Were getting well over 90% of our Hawaii packages delivered the same day we drop them at the DDU, which is phenomenal.
Its 5 AM in Hana, Hawaii. Do you know where your package is? XanGo Juice does, and heres the inside story:
Its early February, and were in Lehi, Utah to meet with Lance Chatham, Market Coordinator for XanGo Juice, and John Farley, the President of ParcelPool.com, XanGos logistics partner. XanGo is a unique juice-based nutritional aid high in antioxidants, and its packed in bottles, so careful shipping and handling is paramount. XanGo ships to residential customers in the US as well as many countries around the world. ParcelPool, started in 1994, specializes in fast, cost-effective residential deliveries to Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as Japan and Europe.
A Three-Way Partnership
To find out how XanGo gets its packages delivered to residential customers in some of the more remote places in the US, were going to follow an actual XanGo package from Lehi all the way to a customer who lives in the picturesque village of Hana on the island of Maui, 2,910 miles across the Pacific and accessible only by the famous Road to Hana. Its all made possible by a three-way partnership between XanGo, ParcelPool and the U.S. Postal Service, ParcelPools last mile delivery partner. Our customers have come to expect a very high level of service from us, according to Chatham. They expect the packages to arrive quickly, which can be a challenge [when dealing with] ZIP Codes outside the 48 states, and while en route, they want to know where their order is and when it will be delivered. And its a given that the shipment needs to arrive in great condition. We want the outside of the carton to look exactly like it did when it left us here in Lehi, with no dented corners or scuff marks. And finally, we need to do all of this at a reasonable cost. There has to be a great deal of coordination and communication between our supply chain partners to pull it off.
ParcelPool Takes It from There
The journey starts once XanGo finishes processing packages for the day, and a ParcelPool driver makes the pickup. While the packages are heading to ParcelPools Salt Lake hub, its data center in nearby Orem is processing XanGos manifest data. Within a few minutes, the data will have been batch processed through a suite of USPS address verification databases. It might seem like overkill, but we use every tool at our disposal to get the best possible addresses. Weve found that on the few occasions where a problem or delay occurs on the delivery end, its usually related to a less-than-perfect address. At this point, they know a great deal about the address: a validated street and unit number, if its a business or residence, the carrier route number, even the precise latitude and longitude of the addressee, which is needed as part of the new GPS package tracking software, the first in the industry.
The packages are scanned once they reach the Salt Lake hub, and a label is produced containing the newly scrubbed delivery address, a Delivery Confirmation barcode and the e-VS postage information. e-VS is an optional electronic verification and postage payment program from the USPS which allows shippers to bypass the front end sampling and verification process. The verification process is done once the packages are deposited at the Destinating Entry Post Office, in this case, the Destinating Delivery Unit. Farley explains that e-VS is vital for us because we often have very tight processing windows before the packages need to get on outbound flights. e-VS replaces a paper process, and allows for better data communication between us and the Postal Service.
In stark contrast to ParcelPools cutting-edge information technology, the physical movement of the packages within the hub is largely a manual process, and thats by design as well.
We handle packages for a number of customers that are shipping large or fragile items, such as electronics and flat screen monitors, that just dont do well in an automated conveyor environment, adds Farley. We use the large aluminum air cans rather than pallets to avoid in-transit damage, and since we load and unload the air cans ourselves and we can add shipping blankets between cartons if needed. Palletized shipments are
handled by airline employees using forklifts theres just no way were going to put a flat screen TV on a pallet. Although the Postal Service makes final delivery of most ParcelPool packages, we also offer white glove delivery for items too big for the post office to handle, using the same drivers who deliver to the DDUs.
The Flight (and Road) to Hana
At this point, the prepacked cans are loaded onto to the next commercial flight to Mauis Kahului Airport. ParcelPool flies packages directly into Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, six days a week. Its a big job logistically, since ParcelPool delivers early bird to every single DDU in Hawaii. Its much more cost- and time-effective to put the packages on direct, non-stops into each island, rather than bringing them all into Oahu, and then flying them to the other islands, adds Farley. Fewer touches are always better. Once the packages arrive at the ParcelPool warehouse in Kahului, they have to be sorted by DDU and on the road to Hana no later than 6 AM. And what a road it is: a winding two-hour drive through lush tropical rainforests and breathtaking cliffside ocean views.
An Inside Look at a Typical DDU
Its a quick drive to the post office on Papalua Street once the ParcelPool driver arrives in Hana. Hana Postmaster Joey Zarate is out front to greet ParcelPools Katsumasa Hibiono as he unloads and scans the packages. Zarate points out that theres been a post office located in Hana since 1866. In remote areas like this, people really depend on the Postal Service, and we try to live up to that expectation.
Most everyone is familiar with the lobby of a post office, with its walls covered with PO Box doors but its behind those doors where the real action takes place. Once the packages are received in the morning, they are scanned and then distributed to the carriers for delivery later in the day. Carriers fall into three categories: city carriers, rural carriers (who drive their own vehicles) and in the case of Hana, Highway Contract Carriers, who move mail between postal facilities and deliver mail along the way. In every case, the carrier will check for any late-arriving vacation holds or address changes before heading out for delivery.
Last Mile Delivery of our Package
Once out on the route, the driver scans each package just prior to delivery. Most packages will fit into the mailbox, while packages for customers with cluster delivery will be placed in locked parcel bins, with the key to the parcel bin left with the customers letter mail. XanGos Chatham admires USPSs service, and isnt shy about saying so. The post office does a truly outstanding job at delivery. Were getting well over 90% of our Hawaii packages delivered the same day they are dropped at the DDU, which is phenomenal. The USPS goes to every address every day, so the incremental cost to deliver a package is quite low. Their delivery people really know their customers, and that leads to more accurate delivery and fewer returns. We also take into account that using the Postal Service for last mile delivery is environmentally friendly, since the postal carrier has no need to deviate from their daily route to deliver our package. Contrast that with the other carriers who report that they use about one-tenth of a gallon of fuel for each package!
The Final Chapter Closing the Loop
Upon returning to the post office, the carrier downloads the Delivery and Signature Confirmation data, which is then received back at the ParcelPool data center in Utah. In this case, our Hana carrier delivered the XanGo Juice package at 1:43 PM). We need to know the delivery status of every single package, and we just werent getting that with our previous commercial carrier, adds Chapman. ParcelPool gives us the ultimate delivery status on every single package, even those few that cant be delivered for some reason. Our customers can go to our XanGo Web site, track their packages in real time and see the ETA of their order. With ParcelPool, there are simply no missing or unscanned packages. Previously, our packages took an average of 3.7 calendar days when you factor in the weekends. Those same shipments are now taking an average of 2.4 calendar days, and the cost is substantially less. So the decision was an easy one for us.
For more information about ParcelPool, contact ParcelPool President John Farley at 1-877-PARCELH (727-2354) or RB@ParcelPool.com. For more information on XanGo Juice, visit www.xango.com.