New E-commerce fulfilment survey finds evidence of retailer growing pains

Business is booming for online retailers but only half are happy with their fulfilment operations

London – 19 June 2017: Business is booming for e-commerce retailers according to a new global* market study announced today by Peoplevox, a leading expert e-commerce Warehouse Management System (WMS) provider.

Jonathan Bellwood
Jonathan Bellwood
Peoplevox’s “The 2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report” found sales of 82% of the e-commerce and multichannel businesses taking part had increased in 2016, with only 6% reporting a decrease in orders. While many voiced concerns over increasing competition, Brexit and currency fluctuations, the majority (88%) expected a further increase in orders during 2017.

Despite such positive results and the generally upbeat outlook for this year, only 53% of respondents said they were happy with their fulfilment and warehouse operations. Purchasing and Forecasting was highlighted as the most common challenge overall with almost a quarter (24%) saying this was the one area requiring the most improvement in 2017.

Furthermore, many of those businesses questioned (63%) admitted to not always shipping on time with 34% citing the unavailability of stock being a key reason. When it comes to rectifying shipping errors, the majority (80%) appear accepting of the additional carriage, customer service and warehouse labour expenses as an inevitable cost of order fulfilment. 1 in 5 admitted to not knowing the cost of shipping mistakes.

A majority (78%) of businesses questioned also found meeting the additional demand for orders at peak times an ongoing challenge in 2016, with just over half (52%) resorting to hiring temporary staff. Paying overtime to existing staff and pulling in staff from other parts of the business were other common solutions.

While 62% of respondents said their business used a WMS, 70% of those that don’t ‘will not’ or ‘may not’ implement one in 2017 for reasons such as complexity, unclear benefits, or believing their business just isn’t ready. A significant minority (30%) said they still rely on their ERP/e-commerce platform for managing the basics of warehouse management.

However, specific business challenges or key IT events appear to impact directly on a retailer’s decision to invest in a dedicated WMS platform. 40% stated that an increase in picking errors was the main reason they would or had implemented a WMS while other common reasons included sales growth, warehouse expansion, or the implementation of new e-commerce platforms or ERP systems. Just over 10% said poor online ratings had also inspired a move towards implementing a WMS.

Commented Jonathan Bellwood, Founder & CEO, Peoplevox: “While it is encouraging to see so many survey respondents reporting continuing sales growth, which is broadly in line with figures for the online retailing sector as a whole, our report has identified a number of growing pains. These will become increasingly challenging for businesses as they continue to expand rapidly.

“First and foremost, in this super-competitive era of E-commerce Fulfilment retailers can no longer afford to paper over the cracks. With expectations of next day/same day delivery, customers just won’t accept the apparent inability of online businesses to accurately ship on time, every time, or inadvertently sell items that just aren’t available. These fundamental warehouse and fulfilment issues need to be addressed before they grow into more serious problems that may risk customer loyalty, cause increases in the number of returns, a failure to maximise available sales opportunities, and an escalation in avoidable overheads.”

Added Jonathan Bellwood: “For those still without or delaying investment in the latest technology, the availability of affordable, fit for purpose e-commerce fulfilment solutions now makes it easier than ever to equip their warehouses with the tools necessary for maximising productivity, accuracy and profitability.”

The full report can be downloaded by visiting

A total of 154 respondents from a variety of countries took part in the online survey during the first quarter of 2017. Approximately 70% of businesses are UK/Ireland based and 10% are in the USA. They work in organisations predominantly identified as either multi-channel retailers (31%); online only (21%); or marketplace resellers (13%). Approximately 80% have turnovers of £1-25M with 12% in excess of £100M. The majority (58%) have been operating for at least 7 years with fewer than 3% under a year.

About Peoplevox
Peoplevox is an expert Warehouse Management System (WMS) provider offering a truly fit for purpose e-commerce WMS solution capable of handling the complexities and pace of online and multi-channel retailing. By partnering with Peoplevox, brands, pureplay and multichannel retailers are able to meet their fulfilment needs through improved people management, efficiency and performance.

As a leading mobile-first WMS solution, the Peoplevox WMS puts powerful e-commerce logistics software at the fingertips of warehouse personnel, at all times and in any location, ensuring they are always at the point of activity, enabling maximum agility, accuracy and productivity. The highly scalable software-as-a-service (SaaS) Peoplevox WMS enjoys considerable market success, currently relied on for shipping over 3 million parcels per month by more than 100 clients in 20 countries, including such well-known brands as Barbour, Intersport, Mothercare and The Range. Easily configured and deployed by non-IT client personnel, its flexible open architecture allows straightforward integration with all leading e-commerce sales, marketplace, delivery, ERP and accounting platforms.

Formed in 2009, the idea behind London-based Peoplevox came from founder Jonathan Bellwood’s previous career experience when implementing legacy systems at customer warehouses globally. Their growing frustrations at the associated costs, complexity and lack of flexibility involved led to the creation of the Peoplevox e-commerce WMS.

For further information:
Tel: +44 1923 606 660

Media Contact:
Nigel Parker
Strategic Public Relations Limited
T +44 (0)118 948 7099
M +44 (0) 7778 872 457

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