Premier Housewares Impressed with Parcelhub’s Willingness to Innovate
The continuous demise of High Street retail means the case for Direct to Consumer (D2C) eCommerce is growing in relevance. While many retailers and brands have their own premises, many others don’t, or they lack sufficient space to store, process and ship their extensive product ranges directly to their customers. Throw in the sporadic nature of fashion-led sectors, and retailers are becoming increasingly reliant upon dropshipping suppliers who can source, store and distribute products in a multitude of quantities, on the retailers’ behalf, mitigating risk and increasing perceived product innovation.
As one of the UK’s leading dropshippers and suppliers of homewares to the retail trade, Premier Housewares boasts over 12,000 products. This is constantly on the rise; derived demand from consumers, and directly from their retail clients means they have to continuously innovate. As a result, the wholesaler currently sources and introduces more than 100 new products every month. Strict quality control is carried out on all items, both in their Glasgow office and at factories overseas, to make sure that everything they supply is of a high standard and is fit for purpose.
The birth of a dropshipping giant
Established as a family business in 1988, Premier Housewares have experienced phenomenal growth and are now recognised as a market leader. Their origins lie in commodity kitchenware items, increasingly complemented by ceramic product lines such as Royal Windsor and Regent Pearl, consolidating their reputation as a supplier of superior products.
Building upon their initial success, Premier Housewares expanded into textiles and home interiors. The multichannel wholesaler continued to work with retailers who were looking to supply the market with on-trend, design-led furniture and home accessories. Expanding their operational facilities in domestic and international markets allowed Premier Housewares to satisfy the demands of retailers looking to make large purchases of high quality stock.
Hayley McAlinden (Online Sales and Account Manager at Premier Housewares) explains their operational setup: “We pride ourselves on being one of the UK’s most influential suppliers and distributors in home lifestyle products to the retail trade. With three separate holding facilities at Glasgow, Cumbernauld, and East Kilbride in Scotland, Premier Housewares has the capacity to hold stock on behalf of customers, to be delivered via whichever method is most suitable and convenient.”
Premier Housewares’ expanding storage facilities and vast stock levels led to a requirement for streamlining their delivery management and tracking, with their order management system. Hayley discovered Parcelhub back in November 2017 and found it could be an ideal solution; a single platform designed to help them manage these processes:
“Because we have such a large range of products, from tea towels, all the way up to three seater sofas, it would be extremely difficult and highly inefficient to rely upon a single carrier. Not any one carrier in the industry offers a range of solutions suited to our extensive, evolving product range.
“For example, some of our smaller items are most effectively shipped on an international packet service, whereas larger items may require a two man delivery. Many of our European customers are asking us to dropship directly to the consumer; to orchestrate international and UK delivery management across 12,000 SKUs just wasn’t possible with a single carrier – initially we tested a number of different carriers (some of which we still use through Parcelhub), but it was too difficult to conduct negotiations directly with these carriers because of the varied amount of product that we have. It was easier for us to try and find a one-stop solution like Parcelhub, which would give us access to a wide range of carriers and services in a single platform, and increased visibility of delivery statuses.”
Increasing operational efficiency
Fiona Gilchrist (Head of Systems at Premier Housewares) explains their requirement for more robust technical infrastructure: “In an effort to try and improve our efficiencies in-house, we identified the need for an automated label processing solution. Initially we were printing them in bulk from the customers’ portals directly, then passing them onto the warehouse where the goods would be picked – the warehouse team would have to manually label the products one at a time – they had to find the product to match the label to and then it would go and get packed.”
Following their initial enquiry, Parcelhub’s David Ward-Webster (IT Support) and Sean George (Business Development Manager) made the journey to Premier Housewares’ Glasgow headquarters to learn in detail about their requirements.
“We explained to the Parcelhub team that we needed a solution that would facilitate our expansion in the direct distribution space. This had to take into account that while we would manage the distribution for our partners (via Parcelhub), some of our partners would like to retain their own carrier contracts. To add to the complexity of our requirement, some of our partners wanted to use Parcelhub for processing labels, but retain their existing carrier contracts.
“Parcelhub’s multi-carrier software was about 90% appropriate to our needs so still required further customisation to meet this objective. David analysed how we processed our orders and implemented a staged plan, which included partner phasing and further custom development.
“To have an IT developer visit us, learn in great detail our complex requirements and scope out a plan was incredible. I was surprised at how open and willing Parcelhub was to take on the project – other delivery management providers we had spoken to were either too rigid and unwilling to offer a tailored solution, too expensive and unnecessary, or both. Parcelhub is highly forward-thinking and sees customer-driven developments such as this as an opportunity of mutual benefit, and will be rolling out this offering to other customers in the future.”
David added: “Our in-house development team analysed Premier Housewares’ current system capabilities and the new functions required. With their help and feedback, the solutions decided upon were unintrusive but effective, empowering the client with a greater degree of control over individual packages, and a smoother packing and labelling workflow.”
Customisation to fit the dropshipping model
Many UK and international retailers operate purely online and so don’t have the ability to source and ship products from their own premises, which is why brands such as Robert Dyas rely on wholesalers including Premier Housewares to source, store and dropship products. Other Premier Housewares partners including Wayfair, Amazon Direct Despatch, Argos and JD Williams do have their own premises, but rely on the wholesaler for additional storage to complement their own in-house offerings. This broad range of requirements, with so many stakeholder expectations to cater for, is why a tailored delivery management solution was a necessity.
Premier Housewares’ Direct Despatch warehouse team have experienced measurable benefits which have been instrumental in facilitating further expansion in the dropshipping arena: “We integrate currently with over 35 different Direct Despatch customers, downloading their orders through EDI and Codeless Platforms to integrate into our backend ERP system and Parcelhub. We are adding more customers to this each month and Parcelhub has been instrumental in increasing the number of our Direct Despatch customers by 50%. In terms of label processing, jobs that used to take our team two hours can now be processed in a couple of minutes.”
Fiona added: “Parcelhub software has also increased our visibility of order numbers, postcode and tracking statuses, and helps us to determine which products should be allocated which services, more accurately and correctly rather than over-costing to be on the safe side (or cutting it short with a downgraded service and suffering negative feedback at the expense of the end user). Parcelhub’s Web Despatch platform is also extremely useful for checking the most appropriate shipping service for new items.”
Enhancing delivery experience
Hayley details how Parcelhub has increased their delivery efficiency: “Prior to partnering with Parcelhub, lots of our parcels and packets were being sent on inappropriate services, which led to wastage. Their consultative approach has enabled us to better marry our dynamic product range with the most appropriate carrier services. We have experienced cost savings in the region of 30%, whilst maintaining and in some instances enhancing delivery performance, thanks to a combination of Parcelhub’s buying power, faster problem resolution and accelerated label production. Most importantly of all, faster order processing has enabled us to distribute greater quantities and has given us greater confidence to offer a Next Day delivery solution to our clients, in addition to our pre-existing 3 to 5 day services.
“Furthermore, we are deeply impressed with the speed with which Parcelhub’s sales administration and customer support teams can identify and address problems with client collections and consumers’ deliveries; which are undoubtedly thanks to the firm’s robust relationships with their carrier partners.
“When we worked directly with parcel carriers (prior to our relationship with Parcelhub), the collection vehicles would turn up sporadically; now that we have the backing and influence of Parcelhub, we feel that the collection process is more structured and flexible. Should any issues arise, Jemma Picken (Sales Admin) and Matthew Swift (Sales Admin Supervisor) are always willing to go above and beyond. Their extensive knowhow and support setting up new accounts with our dropshipping partners has been enormously helpful.”
The future of Premier Housewares
Hayley continued: “We are targeting more Direct Distribution (DD) customers day to day. The more the high street declines, the stronger the case for DD becomes; major retailers will increasingly switch to online. If these retailers don’t have the infrastructure to despatch products directly to their customers, they will have to rely on the support of wholesalers such as Premier Housewares.”
Hayley concluded: “We are planning to eventually introduce Parcelhub’s Outsourced Tracking Solution as we are impressed with their innovative SMART Notifications platform, which we believe will further enhance carrier performance and the end users’ delivery experience.”
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 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, UK Mail, DHL, Whistl, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, ArrowXL, Interpost, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce. Dedicated proactive parcel management comes as standard.