With Simon Wolfson recently announcing Next will extend order cut-off times as a headliner in their half year results, it seems that the “back-end” working of the internet has finally come to centre stage. “It’s something we have been championing for some time and at last we’re seeing that the people controlling the front-end experience are recognizing that the “dirty” back end of warehousing and delivery is integral to the customer proposition,” explains Patrick Wall, CEO of MetaPack.

He goes on to say, “customer experience is a key competitive battleground and online shoppers are becoming more demanding: looking for the instant gratification of a shop purchase. By increasing order cut off times, online shopping closes this gap. Companies are also now realising that a bad delivery experience can completely negate their marketing and brand awareness efforts, while a good delivery experience can double them.”

In the past cut-off times have largely been dictated by the carriers’ pick-up times and the time taken to pick and pack ready for collection. Margins for order fluctuation needed to be added in to ensure that customer promise was met, especially if a single carrier was used or if carrier allocation was a manual process. MetaPack have revolutionised this with the likes of Asos, Wickes and John Lewis all extending their order cut-off times after implementing the software.

Carrier location, network capabilities and service offerings are all factored into the choice of which carrier to use for the latest orders, while still getting the product to the customer on time. These choices can be automatically changed throughout the day, allocating the later orders on a speedier service or closer carrier with a later pick up time. MetaPack can also aid the warehouse management system to give priority to next day deliveries: so that they get packed first and are ready for the earlier carrier pickup time.

Another way in which MetaPack is extending cut-off times is through web front end integration. To the customer at checkout MetaPack feeds only those delivery options which can be fulfilled. Again these responses will automatically change according to the time of the day and the carriers’ cut-off times. These delivery options can be based on the customer’s location, time of day and size/type of delivery basket. Retailers including asos use MetaPack in this way to provide their same day service to deliveries within the M25.

MetaPack is an intelligent multi-carrier management platform allowing ease of integration into 23 carriers and 590 services without any further capital or resource requirement. In this way the retailer has the flexibility to choose the best carrier and service to meet the customer delivery promise.

Published on: 10:29AM on 29th September 2010