Rolling up the sleeves for a secure internal webshop
A logistical nightmare
Securitas is a worldwide pioneer in the knowledge of surveillance and security. In Belgium alone, some 6,600 officers are responsible for the security of office buildings and events. They are all decked out in a neat uniform, which stands for confidence and security. But it was a logistical nightmare, as the type of uniform varies according to the location or nature of the assignment.
Is the uniform damaged? Or are security officers switching assignments? Then uniforms must be replaced overnight!
Until recently, delivering uniforms to all security officers was a complicated and long-winded process, involving a lot of phone calls and emails.
The solution? An internal webshop. After all, employees are also consumers who expect user-friendly and efficient digital tools to work with. Ordering new work clothes should be as simple as shopping on Zalando, bol.com, or any other e-commerce platform, don't you agree?
But the convenience of ordering is one thing. They also had to take into account two more challenges:
- Damaged or superfluous items shouldn't just disappear, because that would encourage abuse.
- As a world leader, Securitas is acutely aware of its responsibility towards the environment.
That's why all used items must also return to their depot, both for security and recycling reasons.
To create this end-to-end supply chain solution, we collaborated with Bleckmann, a world leader in omnichannel distribution for lifestyle and fashion. Based on their input, we translated dozens of possible scenarios into a user-friendly internal webshop.
The flow goes like this: If a security officer places an order, the platform forwards this information to Bleckmann. They attach a unique RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chip to every piece of clothing. By matching it subsequently with the right SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) code, the platform knows exactly which pair of trousers and shirt have been sent to the officer. When the officer then returns worn pieces of clothing, the platform automatically knows which article of clothing has been returned, based on the unique RFID.
In perfect Symfony
Of course, the whole project didn’t just happen overnight. The functional analysis to elaborate on the complex flow of orders, returns, and exchanges resulted in a fifty-page document with no fewer than 24 flows on the platform. Based on this document, it was quite obvious that a lot of custom development would be required. What Securitas needed was far from a traditional webshop. Therefore, we made the technical choice for Symfony, an open-ended PHP framework that allowed us to build the internal webshop just the way we wanted it to work. Because of its flexible nature, we could deviate from a specific way of working. While many frameworks force a developer in a specific direction, Symfony gives the freedom to develop essentially any feature in an elegant way.
Choosing for Symfony and the technical freedom the framework offers, allowed us to tackle the following challenges:
- With so many security officers on duty, the webshop server often receives large numbers of simultaneous requests. As a way to manage this flow and prevent overload, we integrated a waiting line system. Additionally, the platform was put into operation following extensive stress tests.
- Moreover, the webshop does not process payments, but tokens. And it doesn’t stop just there: there are rules about who gets which tokens and under what conditions (depending on the service, position ...). Let’s say that some products can only be bought by an agent that has been in service for 6 months. Well, we can easily integrate this exception without updating the core codebase.
- The tracking and tracing of every garment is achieved by matching the SKU of the type of garment with the unique, sown-in RFID chip. This way, the platform knows exactly which garment will be sent to which officer. For the sake of a good follow-up by everyone involved, the security officers themselves can also keep track of their history.
- And the biggest challenge was the integration of the webshop with Securitas’ existing systems: the HR platform with the personal data of all 6,600 officers, their Single Sign-On platform and all communications regarding orders and returns.
“By automating and streamlining a process including multiple scenarios, we gave back Securitas an unobstructed view on all pieces in their internal market.”
Safe, smooth, and secure
By eliminating the blind spots in the process, we have given Securitas full control of the entire life cycle of all their uniforms, overseeing the entire shipment, exchange, and recycling process of every stitch of clothing. What's more? Over 6,600 security officers can now shop safe, smooth, and secure thanks to their own unique login.
Looking for a digital solution for your logistic challenge? Don't hesitate to contact us!