Hermes is one of the UK’s leading consumer delivery specialists. With demand for its services growing at more than 15% year after year, the organisation delivered more than 304 million parcels in 2017, via a UK network of over 14,000 service providers.
Its clients include a wide range of leading high street, catalogue and online retailers who rely on Hermes to safely deliver their goods to customers; it also caters to individual customers, who can send and receive parcels with Hermes via its national network of ParcelShops.
The rapid growth of online shopping over recent years means Hermes’ domain is fast-changing and fiercely competitive; its clients have plenty of providers to choose from and can easily switch suppliers. To maintain its position as a preferred delivery partner, Hermes wanted to increase customer satisfaction and be seen as offering a truly premium service – as well as the great value it was already known for.
As with many large enterprises, Hermes relied upon a legacy system that needed to be restructured. The company’s appetite for innovation had seen more than a dozen different digital properties growing organically over time; to capitalise on Hermes’ market position, they all needed to be brought together into a more coherent ecosystem.
As well as providing a robust digital platform for future endeavours to build upon, this would ensure that clients and customers could engage with Hermes in the most appropriate ways, at all times.
To deliver it, we were engaged to help Hermes embrace a digital-first culture, while bringing deep delivery experience that would allow it to adapt and change rapidly. While helping to make Hermes’ delivery capability more lean and agile, we kept the focus on delivering the platform that will make it the carrier of choice for all consumers and business in the UK – and place it head and shoulders above the competition.
Enabling Hermes’ digital future
As our client put it, “we didn’t need someone to come in and do what we asked them… we needed someone to come in and help us. Equal Experts provide that level of guidance due to their experience and expertise”.
Our consultants joined a co-located team, working as part of a wider delivery programme; this engagement required us to work closely with a number of other suppliers as well as Hermes’ own people.
Gaining as much understanding of the business domain as possible is always hugely important. To this end, we made full use of insights gleaned from stakeholders across the business (including customer services, sales and marketing), as well as Hermes’ clients and the people they deliver to. This gave us comprehensive insight to guide our support within the delivery, and validate our thinking as the programme of work progressed.
The user research gave the team a much deeper understanding of the challenges Hermes needed to address. The organisation needed to:
- Stay competitive by cutting costs – for example, by reducing the large proportion of avoidable phone calls to the company’s Contact Centre.
- Improve the user experience for its clients, and the eventual parcel recipient.
Hermes’ goals made a fundamentally new approach to technology necessary, and this is where our role in the overall programme sat. As increasing complexity was slowing the historical platform down, Hermes embarked upon a new, API-first platform with help from Equal Experts.
The API platform we’ve built together plays a crucial role in moving Hermes towards these goals. It allows the organisation to consolidate multiple online experiences into a single, more user-friendly service. While the front-end services that make use of the new platform (eg. the Hermes app) fell outside our direct remit, they couldn’t operate without the APIs we’ve put in place; the platform provides the bedrock for Hermes’ ongoing programme of mobile and web app development.
Together, the API platform and associated services enable clients and parcel recipients to better engage with Hermes, and allow the firm to provide new and improved offerings much more easily than ever before. For example, new clients can be onboarded far more easily, and are more easily supported as their needs change over time (for example, as they grow into a bigger user of Hermes’ services).
Lighting the way ahead
A key area of Equal Experts’ engagement with Hermes was to lead the Programme Analysis; we helped pull together the delivery roadmap that steers the work of all Hermes’ technology suppliers, defining its direction, priorities and areas of focus. This also helped us to clarify the MVP delivery, bringing it forward and allowing Hermes to start reaping the benefits earlier than anticipated.
Our extensive delivery management experience has also enabled different suppliers to work together as a unified, collaborative delivery team.
Another important aspect of our work with Hermes was one that’s familiar from many of our engagements. Our extensive experience in agile delivery patterns helped us to embed new working practices as we worked side-by-side with the wider deliver team. Now, teams start small and evolve, keeping the focus on continually adding value.
The work delivers
By no means does this work mark the end of Hermes’ transformation. The work is ongoing and there’s much to do – but the company is already better positioned to achieve its goals and respond to change. And it’s already seeing the benefits of its investment in the programme.
As Hermes’ clients pick up on the continuing improvements Hermes is now able to offer, its reputation is growing. New business is being won, existing clients retained. The momentum is building, as the positive impact of current changes is set to be great, from both a brand and experience perspective.
In recognition of this, the Hermes team won Digital Team of the Year in the 2018 Computing: Digital Technology Leaders Awards. It’s a privilege to have been part of its journey so far.