Cheshire Cheese Company Adds Delivery Options with Parcelhub
The preserve of a lucky few, enjoying explosive growth can cripple a business due to inadequate infrastructure. While Cheshire Cheese Company had everything else in order, their delivery management wasn’t scalable; Parcelhub has since granted the premium food retailer the ability to proactively respond to higher volumes and a wide variety of product types, via a range of carrier partners.
With a background in graphic design and product branding, working in senior management for Focal Design who worked alongside the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi in the early 90s on behalf of major global brands such as Müller, Macclesfield-based Simon Spurrell launched Cheshire Cheese Company with Richard Buxton in 2010 having secured the brand rights and discovering ‘exceptional cheesemaker’ David Williams.
Taking on the establishment
Realising that the major players in the cheese industry were very ‘oldy-worldly and serious’, the pair wanted to make their cheese ‘cheeky and fun’. A fusion of useful talents; branding, ideas and manufacturing led to the creation of the brand with a tagline “the only cheese that makes you grin”.
Multichannel in nature, the retailer sells via an eCommerce website, in addition to local artisan markets throughout the UK and at national shows such as Ideal Home and The Good Food Expo. Furthermore, the firm has its own wholesale division headed up by fellow director Laurence Bass, that has recently expanded its warehouse 80% in size to 18,000 sq ft. In keeping with its traditional look and feel, all of these channels work alongside a brick and mortar store operation across the Midlands and North West, called the Cheese & Wine Emporiums.
Building brand commitment
Simon Spurrell: “In an effort to increase brand loyalty, our next development was in 2011 when we introduced our Membership Scheme. This incentive rewards members with free cheese on their birthday and permanent discount across all of our on- and offline channels. Brand advocates are first to get new flavours such as the recently introduced gin, rhubarb and ginger varieties. We now have over 40,000 members, many of which are our inspiration for new product developments.”
Not only is their membership base an incredibly valuable sounding board for new product ideas, Simon and Richard’s experience monitoring and responding to the latest consumer tastes has proven of key importance for delivering sustained growth:
“We make sure our range of cheeses reflect the most recent consumer trends; our most recent introduction was our Gin & Lemon Cheshire Cheese (left), which has proven to be an enormous success. Getting featured in national newspapers and magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue, viral success led to the sale of over 60,000 units of this product alone, all in the space of a month!
“Over the last decade we have expanded our product range from 30 to now over 150 cheeses, chutneys, accessories and gift hampers, many of which have resulted from long term collaborations with traditional artisan food companies. We have also established strategic partnerships with the likes of Virgin Wines and Oz Clarke’s Three Wine Men, featuring our products at their events and collaborating online.”
Integrating carrier options
Simon Spurrell explained their eCommerce operation: “Initially our online store was built using OSCommerce (a free alternative to Magento) and within two years we migrated over to Magento. Following development of this we introduced eBay and Amazon, seamlessly integrating multiple channels with one central order management system, M2E Pro.
“We had issues with couriers integrating directly to Amazon and eBay, and also were looking for seamless Magento shipping integration. While payment processing, listing, stock control and inventory management were sorted, what we didn’t have was a truly integrated shipping solution for our website and marketplaces that didn’t involve importing and exporting CSV files; following extensive research Parcelhub was recommended to us by a trusted developer.
“Parcelhub heralded a host of major benefits that have been instrumental in supporting our significant growth in volumes and has enabled us to respond to volatile demand. Parcelhub provided a very slick integration for despatching – previously we had a lot of problems dealing directly with carriers with failed consignments, which led to a lot of wasted staff time checking if consignments were correct – this made us nervous that dealing with a carrier directly would not have been scalable.
Increased flexibility and control
“Being a multi-carrier solution, Parcelhub has given us much greater flexibility and control; due to differing dimensions, some carriers were not suitable for some of our bulkier, and international shipments, so having a preselected list of service preferences from a variety of carriers allows us to seamlessly switch to a more suitable solution when necessary. Processing 100-150 orders at one time used to take over three hours; following significant time investment from Parcelhub’s software development team, we are now able to process 150 orders in less than five minutes!
Simon continued: “Demand is very seasonal, with two thirds of our annual sales in the run up to Christmas, although Valentines Day, Bonfire Night and Halloween are becoming increasingly popular due to the introduction of products specifically designed for these annual celebrations, such as our Strawberries, Cream & Champagne Cheshire Heart.
Challenges resulting from strong growth
Since 2009 Cheshire Cheese Company’s annual growth has consistently hovered around the 30% mark. By responding more to consumer trends, increasing brand commitment and exposure, last year the manufacturer and retailer experienced a phenomenal 70% sales uplift, which led to significant challenges:
“This Christmas we had a massive influx of orders, with thousands in the space of a few days; thanks to Parcelhub’s rapid label processing and expanding our workforce by a factor of 10 during peak periods, we managed to fulfil all of our orders. Despite a 400% increase in orders, we received very minimal complaints.
“Since switching to Parcelhub’s range of carrier partners, our complaint rate has reduced from 12% to less than 3% which has had a massive impact on our bottom line. Proactive in nature, Parcelhub’s unique SMART Notifications platform has dramatically reduced our tracking queries leading to further time savings. Throughout our experience working with Parcelhub, Donna Smitton (now Head of Account Management) has been amazing to deal with.”
The future of Cheshire Cheese Company
“In 2018 and beyond we will continue to introduce five new flavours every year, further expand our product range and innovate with a new mobile eCommerce app for Apple and Android. Key to driving retention, our app will integrate fully with Magento. In addition, thousands of requests from foodies throughout Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA and New Zealand has resulted in development of distribution to these countries.
About Parcelhub – The bespoke parcel shipping solution.
Parcelhub is a multi-carrier shipping and eCommerce customer services solution. Flexible and scalable, it integrates seamlessly with order management systems, providing hundreds of multichannel retailers, global brands and wholesalers with one access point to many of the largest UK and international parcel carriers.
Multi-channel eCommerce platforms are easily integrated and dedicated proactive parcel management comes as standard.
Distributing more than 6 million parcels on its own carrier contracts every year, Parcelhub’s free multi-carrier shipping software grants hundreds of national and global businesses access to ‘pooled volume’ discounted rates from its carefully selected range of carrier partners, including: Yodel, Hermes, DPD, UK Mail, DHL, Whistl, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, ArrowXL, Interpost, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce.