Unlocking e-commerce growth
We have been working in an exclusive partnership with a prominent UK book retailer since 2008. Representing a clear parallel with the Bulk operation, we dispatch over 38 million items every year directly to both e-commerce customers and to their retail stores. Furthermore, we rapidly and expertly responded to their changing requirements as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, as evidenced below.
The retailer’s warehouse is based in a 158,000 sq.ft. warehouse storing over 65.5k different product lines. We operate this warehouse to manage the fulfilment and dispatch of products directly to the consumer via the company’s online propositions, and provide daily deliveries to the majority of their stores across the United Kingdom via a carrier managed solution.
The direct to customer e-comm volume is a 60/40 split of single and multi-item orders which are packaged through an integrated auto boxer solution, capable of handling different consumables to support white label fulfilment.
During peak, the operation grows to in excess of 600 employees (more than a 60% increase), enabled by strong partnerships built with local employment agencies. Operating hours also increase to 24 hours, 7 days per week.
A British Book Retailer’s Supply Chain Transformation
Even pre-Covid the historical advantages of the conventional bookshop were being fast eroded. This retailer needed a more efficient way to stock its stores, for stores to carry more individual titles and for a reduction in overall stock levels to occur.
We focused on the key elements of organisational design, cost-to-serve, and supply chain flow. This resulted in major changes to sales and order processing which significantly increased forecasting accuracy to 98%, delivered improved supplier relationships and enabled greater use of centralised inventory to significantly drive down costs.
We analysed and optimised warehouse processes, introducing digital solutions to improve accuracy and efficiency, with improved handling practice introduced to also reduce stock damage. As a result of this, we were able to introduce a new next day delivery service from centralised stock increasing availability and sales across the store network and delivering a £5m reduction in inventory.
Responding to Covid-19 Challenges
Like many other high street retailers, this book retailer had to transition overnight from operating in an omni-channel environment to a single channel environment. Previously only 4% revenue was derived from online sales and now during peak there was a 1650% increase in online orders with an average 820% uplift over the period.
Our ability to quickly reconfigure the distribution centre enabled a flexible supply chain solution to deliver increased capacity and throughput. This included a two-fold increase to the size of the packing area and an increase of 700% in team members now working under strict social distancing guidelines at work to protect our people. Our unique Unipart Way tools including visual management and Communication Cells were key to engaging people in the changes and to understanding the supply chain needs in order to respond with agility to the challenge.
Acting fast with a flexible supply chain solution meant delivery times were barely impacted. Thanks to the reconfiguration of processes, the increase in capacity and prioritising of stock shipped, customers received their delivery in record time (24-48 hours), despite incredible market challenges.
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Emma's extensive background, spanning logistics and retail distribution, underscores her adaptability and ability to excel across diverse industries. Her vast skill set and rich experience position her uniquely to chart new territories for Unipart's e-commerce sector.