NNR Global Logistics UK proved in 2020 that the ability to manage business through a crisis relies on experience, pragmatism and the will to thrive in the face of adversity. By enhancing its offering under challenging circumstances, NNR won both new customers and the BIFA Specialist Services Award
Having successfully established a new contract logistics facility in Northampton in 2015, NNR began planning its next step in 2019: a brand-new contract logistics facility located in Wellingborough and four times larger than the one in Northampton.
Despite the many challenges of Covid-19, operations at Wellingborough began in August 2020.
Lee Griffiths, managing director at NNR, described the company as “a contemporary organisation that is focused on retaining old-fashioned values”, with an appetite for digitisation that enabled it to adapt its software according to specific customer requirements.
For its first client at Wellingborough, NNR developed a series of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that would facilitate the direct receipt of orders online, providing the order detail and picking requirements. The API would also collect the outbound shipment tracking number and send it to the customer electronically – and it allowed order data to be exported from NNR’s warehouse management system directly into a variety of courier systems. The automation of shipping label production, and the tracking data upload, improved both accuracy and efficiency.
Plus, the system allowed individual customers to create unique gift sets, along with a personalised gift card, when ordering online.
For another customer, a specific API was coupled with a Wi-Fi enabled, handset-based picking process to scale up order processing.
Griffiths said: “The acceleration of digitisation continued despite lockdowns and the management of the pandemic. We held business continuity plan meetings five days a week for several months, and our technology team developed the IT required to connect customers and drive our e-commerce expansion. We couldn’t have done it without those advances in technology.
“We took a pragmatic approach to ‘what if’: we sent 25 percent of our people to work from home in January 2020 – right at the beginning of Covid – so we were able to iron out any bugs before things got really tough.”
By mid-2020, 80 percent of NNR staff were working from home. Nonetheless: “We successfully moved to a new warehouse with new customer-facing technology that had to link with our customers and their customers,” Griffiths summed up.
“We achieved that in the middle of a lockdown and plugged in all the necessary technology, even though the construction industry was also shut down at that time, and managed to go live in August as planned. “It’s all about our spirit – our people are able and willing to work hard to provide specialist services and not fail our customers.”
The right blend
Going back to those old-fashioned values, Griffiths explained: “We’re a Japanese-owned company – our parent is Nishitetsu Group – so there’s a big focus on traditional service. We aim to provide accurate information, pragmatic advice and creative solutions; call back as promised; respond swiftly to messages; and approach everything with a can-do attitude.
“The average tenure among our staff is eight years; it’s easier to instil this mindset when you have that length of service. At the same time we welcome fresh ideas, new people and innovation in order to get the right blend.”
He went on: “As well as old meets new, we have East meets West – and that’s where the magic happens. The Western approach brings innovation to complement the strong and steady Eastern mindset.”