Royale International, a Hong Kong-headquartered global express delivery services company, has solved 7-Eleven’s unique parcel inventory problem using a combination of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services.
Founded in 1908, Royale International has diversified its service portfolio from traditional courier services to warehousing to specialized services, such as time-critical delivery, e-fulfilment and financial research distribution.
Coordinating Taobao shipments for 7-Eleven
About 18 months ago, Royale International partnered with convenient store chain 7-Eleven to provide a delivery service called Retail Distribution. Under the partnership, Royale International exclusively delivers goods shipped by Taobao online stores from mainland China to 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong for subsequent collection by customers. The partnership also required the courier provider to manage 7-Eleven's parcel inventory, in terms of the number of parcels in-store.
At the initial stage of the service, Royale International did not have the required IT infrastructure to support this service.
"When the first Double 11 [Single’s Day online shopping festival] in 2015 came along, we faced a lot of challenges for the first time as we needed to handle oall the parcels to be directed to 7-Eleven stores," said Steven Kwok, project manager, Royale International Group.
Given that the 7-Eleven stores are generally small in size, a typical store can keep only about 10 to 30 parcels at any given time. This posed a serious challenge to Royale International in managing the inventory at 7-Eleven stores, especially during Taobao’s online shopping peak seasons.
"In the two weeks that followed Double 11 in 2015, numerous Taobao parcels have piled up in our warehouse because the 7-Eleven stores did not have enough physical space for the excessive parcels that were ordered during the shopping festival," Kwok recalled. "It took us two weeks to process and dispatch all the parcels. In the intervening period, we received countless enquiries from the shoppers concerning the whereabouts and the delivery status of their ordered items."
"7-Eleven told us that the existing inventory management model was not working. We then decided to use AWS to build a whole new infrastructure for the Retail Distribution service to deal with the spikes during the peak shopping seasons, which would otherwise create a huge backlog of parcels in our warehouse."
Target: mobile client for all 7-Eleven stores
To enable real-time tracking and parcel inventory management at each 7-Eleven store, Royale International introduced a mobile strategy, in combination with a cloud computing infrastructure.
Prior to using AWS, Royale International used to keep track of the parcel inventory in each 7-Eleven store through Excel spreadsheets each store compiles. To streamline this process, Royale International utilizes the Android device that each store equips, by installing its homegrown parcel inventory management mobile app. The app enables 7-Eleven staff to perform parcel check-in and check-out.