Ocado, the web-based grocer, prides itself on delivering high quality goods, along with a high quality service. In the competitive retail environment, Ocado turned to Esendex to help it stay one step ahead of the game and become the UK’s first online grocer to implement enhanced text messaging services. Since implementing SMS services from Esendex, Ocado has sent a total of 2.7 million customer and staff text messages and seen numerous benefits, including increased communication with staff, and enhanced levels of customer service.
Due to the nature of the home grocery delivery industry, Ocado has to run a tight ship in terms of resource planning. With a large team of employees working a variety of shift-based patterns in its warehouse and delivery operations, Ocado must be able to contact staff quickly and easily to determine availability for overtime, holiday and shift changes.
“Our Customer Service Team Members, who are involved in deliveries, and our Personal Shoppers, who are involved in warehouse operations, are vital to the success of Ocado,” says Ocado Head of Business Planning, Mark Watson. “To deliver the best possible service for our customers, we need to be able to draw on our operatives’ skills effectively, sometimes at short notice, especially at peak season, such as Christmas.”
Traditionally, managers and resource planners at Ocado had to call each employee individually, explain the details of what was on offer, and take appropriate action depending on the response. This system was both timely and costly to implement and also hard to provide a fair and equal opportunity for employees to respond.
Communicating with customers is equally as important as talking with staff. Ocado was eager to adopt a communications tool that would enable it to engage with its customers, informing them quickly of delivery details and updates.
The SMS solution
In order for the online grocer to communicate effectively with its two key audiences, Ocado sought an SMS-based service, which would fit with its existing processes. Ocado selected SMS communications company Esendex for its experience and its application platform.
The Esendex Application Programming Interface (API) enables automated texts to be sent and received with ease.
“The Esendex API is very impressive and was an immediate draw for us,” says Watson. “It was hassle free to set up and integrated seamlessly with our existing business applications, fitting in easily with our processes. This was an important criteria mark that we set when choosing an SMS service, so it was imperative that Esendex met this. The API works well with our existing time and attendance system, so minimal staff training was required on the system and it is also very intuitive to use on an ongoing basis – a real added bonus with Esendex.”
Ocado has two different Esendex business SMS services. For customer services, Esendex provides an automated service, which involves a one-way text messaging service. At the appropriate time, the customer is sent a text with a delivery notification, update, or an opportunity to change their grocery order. The customer is informed in a direct and timely fashion.
Internally at Ocado, the Esendex service guarantees managers can keep a large number of staff well informed of updates quickly and easily and vice-versa. Using a two-way SMS service, resource planners at Ocado have direct access to the application to plan shifts, overtime and holiday cover. For example, planners can text large groups of staff members to ask who wants overtime and staff can then reply on a first-come, first-served basis.
Since using the Esendex service, Ocado has propelled its customer service onto a new level by using Esendex’s enhanced messaging services. With the power of text, Ocado is able to talk to its customers and deliver the reassurance that their goods will be delivered in time as promised.
Ocado has also seen improvements in internal communications and operational planning. Resource planners can now communicate with warehouse and delivery department staff effectively and directly, channelling important messages involving staffing changes or cover.
“By using the Esendex text messaging system, we can communicate…with speed and ease,” says Watson. We’ve been able to reduce calling times considerably since implementing the service, which has been a real improvement for day to day operations. Previously, resource planners spent hours calling staff about cover notifications, now it can be done in a matter of minutes.”