Toys, Games and Outdoor Play Retailer Sold on Parcelhub’s Proactive Approach
Despite purchasing power shifting to digital channels, the traditional store continues to be an indispensable part of the customer journey. It’s no surprise then that Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire based Crocodile Stores have recently introduced an on-site shop to complement their existing eCommerce business through their website as well as eBay and Amazon.
Marketplaces will however continue to be the key driver of sales for the Clicks and Mortar store, predicts Founder Matt Kirby, while their new shop, based within their 12,000 sq ft warehouse unit will act as a product showcase, as well as another convenient option for local consumers.
A self-taught online entrepreneur, Matt was early to the eCommerce game. After buying a climbing frame for his children in 2001 he noticed that this type of product wasn’t well served online and decided to have a go at listing and marketing Outdoor Play products himself online. This success was followed by expanding the offering into the toy business, via eBay, Amazon, and their own branded website, built on the popular WooCommerce platform. Initially working from home, the retailer moved to rented offices, following which they purchased an entire office building; more recently they moved into their current dedicated warehouse which now has its own in-house operations, admin and IT teams.
Matt explained: “While we started off selling climbing frames on a dropship basis, we found we were very busy over the summer but quiet over the winter so we started selling toys and eventually games. Over time our sales have shifted completely and now over 50% of our sales occur in the nine weeks up to and surrounding Christmas. While outdoor products experienced growth throughout Summer, toys and games enjoy a much more significant Christmas peak.”
Since its conception the multichannel retailer has grown strongly by introducing new sales channels, marketing via print and online, and through product diversification, introducing major brands such as Little Tikes, Hasbro and Playmobil. At present Crocodile Stores distributes more than 3,500 product lines direct to the consumer (D2C) and also on a dropship basis on behalf of various marketplaces, sending anywhere from hundreds of items a day during quieter periods to many thousands around Christmas.
Matt continued: “In the early stages of our business we were creating product listings manually on Amazon and eBay. As our product range surpassed the 1000 mark, we got to a point where it all felt like it was going to explode. Harmonising all of these channels into a single platform was the role of the Linnworks order management system, which we were glad to hear Parcelhub integrates with.
“In a similar vein, manual label processing and managing multiple carrier relationships became time consuming. Before outsourcing our delivery management to Parcelhub, Crocodile Stores were getting collections from four different carrier vehicles every day. Parcelhub’s multi-carrier service means that this has now reduced to a single collection, with a Parcelhub van turning up on a daily basis. Through Parcelhub we ship a range of parcels and packets on domestic, standard, next day, European and international services via Hermes, Yodel, DHL and DPD.
“While the majority of our shipments are sent via Parcelhub, Amazon collects for Prime customers and we send large bulky items such as climbing frames directly with freight providers.
“We were initially approached by Leigh Sissons, Business Development Manager at Parcelhub back in March and were impressed with the benefits their software and services could bring. Parcelhub mirrored Linnworks’ label printing process and integrated free of charge.
“Working directly with carriers, we would have to carry out the shipping integration on our own. Parcelhub’s in-house software development team took full ownership of the project and have been incredibly helpful, visiting our premises to ensure that our operations experienced minimal interruption. To be able to speak to the guy that wrote the script and for him to jump on our computer and log on was really unexpected; you really can’t get better than that can you?”
“Thanks to Parcelhub’s increased buying power we have been able to provide a tracked service for the same cost as we were previously paying for an untracked service, saving the business money because we have end-to-end proof of our deliveries’ progress. Introducing tracked services has also had a positive impact on our eBay and Amazon selling statistics. Marketplaces are very hot on delivery rates and we’ve certainly improved in that regard. eBay and Amazon watch delivery progress like a hawk – because Parcelhub’s tracking system reports back to Linnworks and then to eBay and Amazon, this has increased our selling performance on marketplaces.”
Simon Wright, Marketing Manager at Parcelhub added: “In addition to saving customers time and money, Parcelhub’s innovative SMART Notifications platform improves merchants’ delivery performance by identifying sequences of carriers’ scanning events that may lead to delivery delays, and specific problem scans such as return to sender incidents, address queries, damaged or refused items; following this a ticket is raised which Parcelhub’s proactive, in-house customer service team investigates and resolves delivery delays if possible, monitoring through to when a resolution is reached. Ultimately this enhances the merchants’ and end-users’ delivery experience.”
Matt concluded: “Parcelhub’s proactive approach has improved our delivery performance, marketplace seller status and customer feedback. It has taken a lot of weight off our customer services team, who now spend less time trying to find parcels and more time focusing on running the business.”
About Parcelhub – The proactive delivery management solution:
Parcelhub is a multi-carrier shipping and eCommerce customer services solution. Flexible and scalable, it integrates seamlessly with marketplaces, eCommerce platforms, OMS, WMS and ERP systems, providing hundreds of multichannel retailers, global brands and wholesalers with one access point to 20+ carrier partners and 300+ services.
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, DHL, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, ArrowXL, Interpost, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce. Dedicated proactive parcel management comes as standard.
Parcelhub is part of the Whistl Group. Whistl is the leading delivery management company enabling customers to get their letters, leaflets or parcels to customers efficiently and cost effectively both in the UK and internationally. It is headquartered in Marlow with 8 depots and 2 fulfilment centres across the UK handling 3.8bn items a year. The company is privately held with over 1,500 employees and a turnover in excess of £600m. It has grown significantly over the years and is now expanding its presence in the eCommerce sector offering fulfilment services to customers through a seamless experience from first click to final delivery.