Case Study


Hatton’s offload delivery to GFS and clears barriers to international growth


Business impact

International sales increased by 15% in 12 months

Order fulfilment time is 40% faster

Customers order more because deliveries arrive quicker

Pro-active tracking saves time, hassle and resource

Hatton’s Model Railways opened its doors in 1946 selling secondhand toys in post-war Britain. From these humble beginnings Hatton’s has grown into a global British brand and multi-million online business, selling model railways to loyal enthusiasts around the world. But it wasn’t always easy. While international expansion was seen as the key engine for eCommerce growth, the complexities and operational overhead of managing delivery inhouse and was holding them back – until they started working with GFS 12 months ago.

Managing delivery in-house was constraining growth

Like many independent retailers, Hatton’s was working with multiple carriers and trying to manage it all in-house. As the business grew, they found that too much valuable time and resource was being wasted on reconciling multiple invoices. Equally frustrating was trying to track parcels down across separate carriers and get support when it was needed. Multiple carriers also meant multiple labelling machines and multiple pickup times which was impacting despatch times and operational efficiency in the warehouse.

International expansion would mean re-thinking the current delivery model

Hatton’s saw the potential to grow online sales in other markets – but quickly recognised that the current delivery model would need to evolve. Finding the right carriers and services to deliver into those markets with the right commercial rates would take time and effort. They would also need knowledge of duties and taxes and cultural differences to localise delivery to each market. Adding more carriers and services would require complex technology integrations with existing labelling and despatch platforms as well as more operational overhead in the warehouse. It soon became clear that they needed to re-think their current delivery model so they could find a way to open up new markets with less effort, less cost, less risk – and quickly.

It was at this point that they decided to talk to GFS to understand how outsourcing carrier management could alleviate the problem as well as give them access to the technology and expertise they needed to accelerate growth.

A single technology integration opens a world of possibilities

Rather than build a solution in-house, Hatton’s implemented GFS Selector, a multi-carrier labelling platform with an in-built label library for over 1000+ domestic and international services. The installation took just hours to implement across multiple packing stations. GFS Selector was then quickly connected to the Peoplevox warehouse management system through an easy plugin. GFS worked hand-in-hand with Hatton’s to help them decide on the best-fit carriers and services to suit their needs. Once the contracts were in place the services could simply be switched on with GFS Selector. Soon, Hatton’s was shipping to customers in China, Scandinavia, USA and the rest of the world with services ranging from next day, timed services (before 10am and 12 midday), air express and road services for international. Going forward, adding more carriers and even more sales channels will be quicker and easier through the GFS integration, opening up a world of possibilities to Hatton’s to drive growth.

“GFS technology enables us to easily switch on new services, new markets and even new sales channels through the GFS integration. This gives us greater agility and the comfort of knowing that the technology is not going to be barrier to growth or future change.”
Richard Davies – Managing Director, Hatton’s

A single collection with later cut-offs streamlines warehouse operations

Having a multi-carrier labelling system in place, meant that the four labelling machines which were previously at each packing station could now be replaced with just the one, GFS Selector. This allowed for more, smaller packing stations to fit in the same space with fast, accurate labelling. Similarly, the multiple collections were replaced with a single GFS collection service for late pick-ups, 6 days of the week to enable faster despatch and higher volumes. Overall, this has resulted in order fulfilment that’s 40% faster.

Single view and single point of contact for tracking parcels across all carriers

Once despatched, parcels could be tracked through GFS Seeker, a single portal giving Hatton’s and their customers full visibility of parcels from despatch to doorstep. This is supported with proactive parcel tracking services by GFS Customer Care working hand in hand with carriers to ensure service levels are met and parcels get to where they need to be.

“GFS enables us to give customers an Amazonstyle service – but without sacrificing the direct brand
relationship we have with the customer.”

Richard Davies – MD, Hatton’s

One relationship to simplify delivery and power growth

Through the one GFS relationship Hatton’s have found an easier way to access the services, technology and expertise they needed to simplify delivery and boost international sales by 15% in just 12 months. The company is working with GFS to support the next phase of growth by going multi-channel into online marketplaces and by offering online customers an even greater choice of delivery options to increase conversion at checkout.

“Some people might be tempted to go back to working with carriers directly but that’s only because they’ve forgotten what it was like before GFS – we now have one relationship, one invoice and one place to go to for expert advice and support when we need it.”
Richard Davies – MD, Hatton’s

About the company

  • Online retailer of classic model trains and cars
  • Family business founded in 1946
  • Now a multi-million pound UK top 500 retailer
  • Customers all over the world

The need

  • Hatton’s found managing multiple carriers time-consuming and frustrating
  • Multiple labelling systems and collections impacted operational efficiency
  • They wanted to grow the business and explore new international markets but didn’t have the time or knowledge
  • Hatton’s needed a delivery solution that required less effort, less cost and less risk

The GFS Solution

  • Multi-carrier carrier management with pro-active tracking saves time, hassle and resource
  • Single multi-carrier labelling solution, GFS Selector, integrates with their WMS to reduce the number of printers and increase packing stations
  • Access to a range of international shipping options and expertise has opened up Hatton’s route to growth
  • Single collection service enables late cut-off times and despatch 6 days a week
  • GFS Parcels

  • GFS Technology
  • GFS Logistics – single collection service
  • GFS Seeker
  • GFS Selector
  • GFS Manager