Internet shopping – for many of us it has become second nature. We want something but either don’t have time to go to the shops or we don’t have the inclination to stand in queues and battle the crowds – so we look to the Internet instead. It’s becoming increasingly popular to shop online, whether it’s for car care and car detailing products, a new office printer, Christmas presents or just the weekly groceries!
But what happens once we’ve placed the order? What happens in that period of time between the click of the ‘Pay Now’ button and the knock at the door announcing the arrival of the parcel?
Jez Gilman, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ultimate Finish, the UK’s largest online car care and car detailing store, has his roots firmly in the parcel business, having spent many years running a well known national parcel carrier.
Parcel carriers are the final part in the chain of a whole sequence of events. Getting each piece to link together smoothly to provide our customers with an exceptional shopping experience is our top priority. My background in the parcel industry gives UF an invaluable insight into the nuts and bolts of global delivery systems. – Jez Gilman, Ultimate Finish
The life of your parcel, it all starts like this…
Search: Whatever the search term you can be sure that Ultimate Finish is easy to find. Our wide range of loyal customers includes car enthusiasts, valeters, professional detailers and automotive dealerships. Headquartered at the world famous Brands Hatch Race Circuit, Ultimate Finish supply the finest car care and car detailing products to discerning enthusiasts in over 80 countries worldwide.
And so, when a keen car care enthusiast needs to top up their stocks of shampoo, polish and wax or a professional detailer needs machine polishing pads or more cutting compound in a hurry, they boot up their computer, select their favourite search engine – let’s assume it’s Google! – And type in ‘Ultimate Finish’. (Editors Note: or you can bookmark us by visiting Ultimate Finish and then holding down the CTRL & D keys on your keyboard at the same time!)
Click: After browsing through the UK’s largest selection of Car Care and Car Detailing products on the Ultimate Finish website, selecting items along the way and adding them to the basket, the customer goes through to the secure checkout. At this point there is the opportunity to subscribe to the Customer Loyalty Scheme which rewards returning customers with increased levels of discount based on cumulative spend. Having ticked the subscribe box, the customer completes his transaction using their preferred payment method of either credit / debit card, PayPal or Google Wallet. Click – and the order is placed.
Verify: Ultimate Finish’s checkout process is secured by the latest SSL certificate and whichever method is selected; all payments pass through a security checking system, vital to protect our customers against the fraudulent use of their payment details. For security and additional peace of mind, Ultimate Finish does not store credit or debit card information. To further enhance the shopping experience, customers can select an alternative shipping address to their billing address. It is far easier to deliver parcels when there is someone around to sign for them!
Allocate: Product pages on the Ultimate Finish website display live stock information and once the order is placed, a management system allocates items that are physically in stock. If an order contains an item that is ‘awaiting stock’, an email is automatically sent to the customer, giving them the opportunity to either; wait for the item to come back into stock (normally within 5 working days) or swap it for a suitable alternative item.
Pick & Pack: With the order now securely placed, all the items are checked and the stock immediately allocated. The order is then electronically transmitted to our state of the art distribution centre in Burgess Hill, West Sussex for processing. Once received, the order is checked and assigned to one of the dedicated UF pick and pack team, who, armed with the picking list and bar code scanner, carefully locates and selects the products. All products are racked by category and not by manufacturer, which, together with the barcode scanning system eliminates any possibility of the incorrect item being selected.
Once selected, the items are then checked to ensure all seals are intact, separately wrapped in bubble wrap to protect them during transit and then packed into our eco-friendly boxes.
Dispatch: Once the order is complete, the dispatch system automatically prints the shipping label dependent on the final destination and the chosen service. Ultimate Finish offer a variety of shipping options to 80 countries worldwide:
- FREE Delivery (Mainland UK only)*
- Standard Delivery (1-2 working days),
- Next Working Day & Next Working Day AM
- Saturday AM (Mainland UK only)
- European ‘Standard by Road’
- European ‘Express by Air’
- Express By Air (Rest of the World)
* Orders over £29.95
Once the parcel is packed, a unique consignment / tracking number is sent back to the central processing unit and an email confirming dispatch and containing the tracking number is automatically emailed to the customer. Live tracking information is available from all of our chosen distribution partners.
The parcel is placed into a security cage to await collection by each of the carriers. Several collections are made throughout the day with the last one at 6.30pm. In fact, Ultimate Finish boasts the latest cut off time in the industry – all orders placed before 6pm are (subject to stock availability and chosen service) packed and shipped the same day, meaning a customer in Aberdeen can place an order at 5.59pm, select the Next Day shipping service and it will be shipped from our West Sussex warehouse same day and received in Aberdeen the very next day. If a pre-noon service is selected the parcel will be there before 12 o’clock! Our European and international customers can take advantage of super quick transit times due to late cut off times and the proximity of our warehouse to the major parcel gateway at London Gatwick (LGW) airport.
Overnight: Once the carrier arrives, the parcel is collected from the cage and electronically scanned on to the collection vehicle, usually a (44 tonne articulated lorry). From here the parcels are forwarded to the collection hub (Gatwick) for sortation. The parcels are scanned into the collection hub to confirm receipt, checked and loaded onto the overnight trunking vehicle for transportation to the carriers national hub centre. Before leaving, each trunk vehicle is secured with a unique security seal.
Once the trunking vehicle arrives at the national hub centre a member of the operations team breaks the security seal and the parcels are unloaded, scanned and sorted electronically by postcode into the correct cage for onward transportation to the delivery hub. Once again the parcels are scanned into cages and loaded on to the lorry which again, is security sealed before driving through the night to the delivery hub.
Delivery: At the delivery hub the management team breaks the seal; the parcels are scanned as they are unloaded and sorted by postal code into the correct cage for the each delivery route. When the driver arrives for his morning round, the parcels are scanned again, this time onto the van to indicate that the parcel is “Out for Delivery”, Customers can track their parcel from collection right up to the point of delivery by entering the tracking number into the relevant carrier’s website.
Good Morning, I placed my order at about 17:30 last Thursday and received it the next morning before 11:00. Now that is real service, thank you very much, fantastic. Ray C. (UK) – May 2012
Hi UF, Just want to commend you guys on your service and quick delivery! I placed an order on Friday afternoon (Australian time) and it has already arrived to my house before Monday lunchtime – half way across the world BTW. Very impressive guys! I don’t even know if I could get something sent Interstate in Australia in that record time! Will definitely be purchasing from you guys again – Thanks!
Dominic L. (Australia) – January 2012
Good morning! I received the goods at 10 A.M. this morning, so I am a VERY happy customer! You delivered in 24 hours to Norway, which is VERY good! You have 5 stars in my book! Have a great day!
K. Nagell-Hoyer (Norway) – October 2012
I ordered a CTEK Battery Charger & Conditioner from you on Friday afternoon and it was delivered to me here in South West France today. That is such brilliant service for which I thank you. I purchased a similar charger from you when I was living in the UK and was most impressed by your service then which is why I bought again from you on this occasion.
Richard P. (France) – January 2012
Ultimate Finish – Delivering Legendary Automotive Care worldwide since 1999.