Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Solving 7-Eleven Inventory Problems with the Cloud



One of the reasons we’re one of the leading express delivery service providers is thanks to our willingness to evolve and solve problems. We see opportunities for growth and insure we have secure and effective infrastructures in place to solve problems for our partners and clients. A good example of this can be seen with one of our partnerships that began life in 2015.

Taobao Shipments for 7-Eleven

We partnered with the convenience store chain 7-Eleven, providing Retail Distribution. We exclusively deliver the goods that are shipped by the Taobao e-commerce stores from mainland China to the 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong. Once at the stores the goods are then collected by the customer. In addition to the distribution of the goods, we were required to provide a parcel inventory service for the number of in-store parcels.
In order to provide an excellent service, we needed to make some improvements to our IT infrastructure.  We faced several challenges that were highlighted during the first Double 11 in 2015. Double 11 is the Single’s Day online shopping festival that is hugely popular with proud singles in China and has become one of the biggest online shopping days in the world.  We were hit with a huge surge in the amount of parcels that needed to be sent to the 7-Eleven stores.  One of the problems was a result of the generally small size of the 7-Eleven stores. Most stores are only able to store between 10 and 30 parcels at a time, causing pressure for the management of the 7-Eleven inventories.

Royale International Group Project Manager Steven Kwok remembers the challenges at this time. A couple weeks after the Double 11 saw the Royale International warehouses full of Taobao parcels as the 7-Eleven stores didn’t have the space to store them. It took two weeks for all the parcels to be processed and dispatched and many customers were getting in touch asking for news on their orders.  After realising that the inventory management model was not suitable, we decided a new infrastructure for Retail Distribution was necessary.  The infrastructure would be designed to cope with an increase in orders during peak shopping seasons in order to avoid backlogs of parcels at our warehouses.

Introducing a New Mobile Strategy

We combined our new cloud computing infrastructure using Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a mobile strategy to allow for real-time tracking and parcel inventory management for each 7-Eleven store.  The AWS infrastructure made it possible to streamline the processes that previously involved tracking parcel inventory using Excel spreadsheets for each store. These days, each store uses an Android device and uses our own parcel inventory management app. The app makes it possible for the staff at the stores to check parcels in and out. The data is sent back to our Retail Distribution System in real time. This improvement means that it’s possible to track the complete parcel inventory across all stores.  Real-time inventory control was enabled, improving tracking and forecasting simultaneously. Steven Kwok now has a new goal of introducing the new mobile client system to every 7-Eleven store in Hong Kong.

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