The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is the largest nature conservation charity in the UK. Together with its partners, it inspires everyone to give nature a home.
The RSPB fulfil online/telephone orders, reserve store replenishment and key account orders from a 3rd party warehouse. RSPB use Naveo Commerce to manage warehousing operations, call centre operations and retail operations, all on the same system.
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
As soon as the UK went into Covid lockdown the RSPB stores, which under normal circumstances account for 50% of revenue, had to close. Nick Newson, Business System Manager at RSPB comments “Covid has been a worrying time for everyone. All our retail sites had to close and the call centre was shut between the end of March and mid May. We expected our revenues to be negatively impacted however we found that our online order volume increased dramatically. We have seen a 250% increase this spring, which has resulted in our total revenue remaining very close to forecast. The global pandemic has impacted every organisation in the UK. Lockdown brought with it very few positives, but people’s reconnection with nature was certainly one of them. This spring has been unlike any other and we have seen an upsurge in interest in birds and nature and how people can help give wildlife a home in their gardens or local green spaces and perhaps that’s why we’ve seen such a huge demand for bird food and bird care products.”
How did RSPB successfully manage a 250% increase in order volume during Covid?
The main challenge was how to fulfil an extra 250% volume of orders whilst keeping staff Covid safe and ensuring the required social distancing. They couldn’t bring in more staff to handle the increased volumes because of the distancing rules, so they had to work out another way to handle the increased volumes.
They’ve achieved this in several ways. Because the fast moving products have been changing, they’ve used reports within Naveo Commerce to identify which products they need closest to the packing stations. They’ve used a ‘heat map’ to show where the fast moving products are stored and moving them to a more accessible area split across all the aisles.
They have manipulated Naveo Commerce to produce the pick lists by aisle and have introduced strict rules that only allow 2 pickers occupy an aisle at one time. Naveo Commerce on mobile has a skip option on the pick, so if there are already 2 pickers in an aisle, that product can be skipped to the end of the pick.
The outcome is that they have dramatically reduced the walking distance for their pickers, which has resulted in an increase in productivity, despite the social distancing requirements.
Increased Productivity Despite Social Distancing
Wayne Martin, Operations Manager at RSPB, commented “Naveo Commerce is very flexible. It’s allowed us to adapt and change the way we work very quickly and we were able to produce the reports, identify the best location for stock and change the picking order ourselves. To our delight, we’ve increased productivity by 15% during these very difficult times. On our busiest day we picked 2,800 completed orders whereas before Covid we were picking around 3000 per week! In fact, we will continue to use this practice post Covid. This increased productivity has obviously improved our ROI as warehousing is a significant cost element of each sale.”
Like many retailers, RSPB removed the option for next day delivery from their website, not because they couldn’t pick the orders quickly enough but because the carriers couldn’t guarantee next day delivery. To ensure customers have correct expectations, the delivery promise was for standard 3-5 day delivery.
Back orders have been another challenge, due to supply issues across the world, but having a reliable warehouse system has ensured they can give customers accurate information about stock availability.
Nick continued “Our warehouse staff have responded brilliantly to this unprecedented situation. Having such a flexible and reliable system has been essential in allowing us to maintain the customer service levels our customers expect, whilst managing this massive increase in order volume”. RSPB are looking to increase productivity further. They’re already looking to introduce finger scanners, which they expect will knock 5 secs off each order pick, which will reduce the time taken to pick 2000 orders by almost 3 hours.
Wayne commented “We couldn’t have reacted so rapidly and so efficiently if we didn’t have Naveo Commerce. Our staff have responded extremely quickly to the situation and have used Naveo Commerce to the full to improve productivity – which is a major achievement. But, we couldn’t have managed the spike in online order volumes without Naveo Commerce.