• Wed. Sep 21st, 2022

Waterstones: Book delivery backlog due to technology upgrade – BBC


Aug 11, 2022

The bookseller Waterstones has suffered weeks of disruption to its business operations following an upgrade of its warehouse software.
Authors and publishers have been left frustrated by delivery delays after the new system from Blue Yonder created a backlog of orders.
Some customers have been waiting up to six weeks for their orders.
Waterstones says it regrets the unusual slowness and has contacted customers to apologise for the inconvenience.
The UK's largest book chain, Waterstones acquired the country's biggest independent bookseller Blackwell's in 2022, signalling a further unification of the bookselling industry in a deal that Waterstones called the fight back against Amazon's "siren call".
The retailer, which has more than 300 stores across the UK, also acquired the 115 year-old family-owned chain Foyles in 2018.
At the Scotland Book Trade Conference in May, managing director James Daunt said a "substantial" long-term distribution centre project would be rolled out over two to three years, including a new warehouse management system aimed at improving efficiency.
But in recent months, customers have been experiencing serious delays in the deliveries of their orders, leaving authors and publishers disgruntled.
Sam Missingham, publishing commentator and founder of The Empowered Author book marketing service, raised awareness of the issue on Twitter and received a number of responses, including from Waterstones staff who claim to have been subject of abuse from angry customers.
The backlog has also posed a problem for newly published authors, who are worried their books will be forgotten because their titles have not made it to shops yet.
Author and actor Susannah Wise told The Bookseller that she had been signing some of the "only" copies of her book, Okay Then That's Great at Hatchard's book shop in London because the Waterstones distribution hub was "up the swanny".
She said Foyles had not received any copies of her new novel, while Daunt Books in London's Marylebone had only one.
Wise added that she understand the retailer was doing its best but the resulting backlog of three or four weeks meant there were now other new books to prioritise.
"I don't know how they can shelve all these books and give them all priority. It's nobody's fault but it's really bad timing."
A spokesman for the retailer said: "Waterstones last month upgraded the system that manages stock distribution from our warehouse to Blue Yonder technology. This is now operational, with stock flowing to our bookshops and customers alike. Over the implementation period, however, a backlog of orders was created which we are now processing as quickly and efficiently as we can."
Waterstones said it anticipates beginning to benefit from the new platform by September.
The spokesman added: "We note some of the public commentary, much of which complains that we have under-bought some titles.
"Unfortunately, no amount of sophisticated new warehouse systems changes the fact that as booksellers we choose what to buy, sometimes being a little too reticent, sometimes too enthusiastic. We can't blame Blue Yonder for this."
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