JD Sports are the latest company to follow the trend of using a multi-carrier network through the carrier management software MetaPack. In the past, companies preferred to deal with a single supplier, generally giving all their businesses to the lowest cost carrier, or the carrier able to offer guaranteed nextday delivery. However owing carriers’ particular areas of specialisation, or relative expertise, they cannot be all things to each customer. Any diversion away from their core service, and not only can the costs go up, but the delivery date or time is no longer certain. Added to this, unforeseen problems such as strikes, and relying on one carrier could not only mean curtailing growth but that fulfilment could be brought to a standstill.

Where companies have realised the need for multiple carriers, they are usually still locked into their single carrier owing to the cost and difficulty of integration. With their online business growing, JD Sports wanted to offer their customers a wider range of delivery options as well as enter into the European market. Neither of which was economical with the current despatch process in place: JD Sports had invested in a self-built, bespoke warehouse management system with a full integration to a single parcel carrier. And while the carrier integration met the basic needs for the ecommerce business, the single carrier configuration was restrictive and offered limited flexibility and redundancy.

MetaPack was introduced to JD Sports through their major shareholders, The Pentland Group, who have been successfully operating four carriers through MetaPack for more than two years. The flexible carrier management tools provided by MetaPack allow JD Sports to allocate goods to a range of preferred carriers and services, switching as necessary. This ensures they are never in a position where they can’t ship and can provide carriers with relevant traffic to maximise service levels. JD Sports are now in a better position to send their goods more cost effectively, dependant on the consignment characteristics.

International deliveries are now also a more feasible opportunity. Using MetaPack’s functionality all necessary documentation is pre-populated with the required information saving the manual process of completing customs documentation by hand.

JD Sports’ IT department has welcomed the integration to MetaPack as it saved time and resource in the long term. “It was a relief to them knowing they would only have to do this once” explains Paul Maxwell, Ecommerce Technology Manager, adding “developing a ‘middleware’ program enabled us to interface via the MetaPack API and fully integrate MetaPack with our bespoke in-house WMS system. Our system can now allocate deliveries via pre-defined criteria and we are able to manage the allocation rules simply and efficiently via the MetaPack console.

“MetaPack has provided us with a competitive advantage; it gave us the freedom to base our carrier decision on service as well as price. We’re now able to increase our delivery offering, ship internationally at a competitive rate and in turn raise our customer service offering. “

Published on: 9:34AM on 13th September 2010