Overview of the state of e-commerce following 2020
If you are unaware of e-commerce, then you must have been living under a rock for the last 10 years. The shift in consumer behaviour towards online shopping has drastically altered the way in which businesses sell products and services to consumers. This has since been accelerated by the recent pandemic where all non-essential retail in the UK were forced to close physical stores. Thus, businesses responded by increasing their e-commerce presence.
E-commerce has truly exploded; according to GroupM, global e-commerce sales in 2020 were due to hit $3.9 trillion. However, by the end of 2020, consumers pushed this over the $4 trillion mark. The biggest change has been for CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) manufacturers where e-commerce based retail sales have increased by 277%.
It is impossible to ignore such a huge shift in consumerism. A natural increase in people using the internet, specifically social media, on a day-to-day basis made digital platforms a natural target for any forward think marketer. Naturally, making the products available online was the next logical steps in driving sales. A top example is one of the pioneers of e-commerce – Amazon. During the third quarter of 2020, Amazon saw their net income for Q3 hit $6.3bn, 3 times what it was in 2019. This can largely be attributed to consumers inability to be able to go to the shops.
So, what does this mean for people who are in the warehousing and logistics industry?
With a drastic increase in e-commerce, the demand for warehouse space has gone through the roof. Occupier take-up in H1 2020 had reached 17.7 million sq ft – 20% higher than in H1 2019. This is where QTS as a company fit in. As a UK supplier (part of the notorious Made in Group) and fabricator of mesh materials we have seen a big increase in the demand for our products already with this expected to continue through 2021. It would be an incredibly poor business decision for us if we did not choose to move with the times and create our own e-commerce platform to make the setting up and maintenance of said warehouses much more efficient.
With that being said, we would like to introduce you to our new online shop! We have created this platform which intends to make our standard products available to you at the click of a few buttons. It is the perfect place for ordering products for small to medium sized projects.
We have created this shop with our trade customers in mind. By contacting us and setting up a trade login we are able to offer a huge discount on the RRP. For large or bespoke projects, please continue to contact our expert sales team who will be able to find you the perfect solution.
Hello Craig, can you start by introducing yourself?
Hi, I’m Craig De-Lara and I’m proud to be able to announce, my new appointment as Managing Director of QTS.
What did you do before QTS?
Prior to joining QTS, I was blessed with a diverse career in the security industry, largely with a systems and incident management bias. I was fortunate enough to hold key roles that delivered complex projects for companies such as the emblems ration of a high tech, incident management suite for Santander and multi-million-pound data centre construction, for Pure Data Centres. In recent years I have held c-suite business leadership roles for multi-million-pound turnover organisations, experiencing growth through implemented sales, service, and retention strategies.
Can you tell us why you wanted to work at QTS?
QTS has a rich history and has navigated itself through some impressive transitions to-date, more notably the ingenious strategic move to relocate its entire operation to the UK, where QTS manufactures all of its products and proudly boasts the use of trusted UK/ EU materials.
The moment the founding Director Shaun Ingram and I discussed a role within QTS and the ambitious growth strategies, I could immediately see synergies in both personal and business philosophies and with the passion evident despite 17 years of business, I had a great feeling and have never looked back.
What does the future hold for QTS?
I’m delighted to say that QTS will continue to build on its long-standing success, but it will benefit from a combination of continued experience, fresh enthusiasm and challenged by an outside perspective.
This combination of old and new is designed to continually improve our people, products and services, elevating QTS to the no’1 mesh solutions partner of choice, supporting our trade partners to exceed their clients expectations each and every time.
We’re forever challenging the way we do things and that will form the culture for years to come.
What is your strategy for implementing change?
Our strategy for change is already in motion and I’m pleased to say that our customers are already experiencing the benefits.
With that said, we’re still hungry to drive a continual improvement culture throughout the business and that starts with the people you employ and how you empower them to achieve great things.
QTS is a very close family feel business, which encourages team members to push the boundaries improvements, improvements which intend to significantly improvement customer experience and satisfaction levels.
Such is our commitment to meaningful change, that we have recently appointed into a new role of Quality & Change Manager, as we search to ‘be more’ which forms part of our core values.
It’s an honour to be appointed the role and responsibilities of Managing Director, especially by the Founding Director and newly appointed Chairman Shaun Ingram.
Shaun has driven QTS almost single handedly for more than 17 years and has secured the next phase of its growth with my appointment in true entrepreneurial fashion.
Collectively we have transitioned the business over the past 14 months, having developed a strong team of equally passionate people, so I’m excited by our ambitious plans to grow QTS into the out and out no’1 mesh solutions partner of choice to the trade, through exceptional people, quality product and first class service.
I know what you are thinking, you don’t think you need to use a UK based manufacturing solution because you can increase your margins by importing. But, picture this for a moment; you are in a toy shop and your child wants to buy something, but it is cheaper to buy another similar item. You get home and after 5 minutes it breaks. Not only is your child now devastated, but also you have to go and buy a new one that means you have paid more than if you just got the better quality one in the first place. The saying is true, buy cheap, buy twice.
Now let’s edit this scenario a little bit; the toy in question is now a mesh deck and your child is now your customer. You now have an unhappy customer and a cost that you might have to front yourself. Not only this but the customers products might have been damaged in the process. This seems like a lot of risk for very little reward, does it not?
QTS designs and manufactures its mesh products here in the UK in our factory in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire. This means we can offer a great quality product with a great lead time. Still not convinced? See below why importing your mesh could be a mistake…
The challenges of importing from the far-east
The cost of shipping from a remote city in China where now most factories are placed, versus the cost of road transport from somewhere in the UK, will be drastically different. The biggest cost is the import tax placed on goods shipped from China. This will be an area of uncertainty with the current Brexit negotiations in place. In addition, the distance from here to the far east will obviously increase your delivery prices.
There is then the factor of time. If you are looking for a quick lead time on a project, then the far-east import option is not for you. Not only is there the time it takes to actually transport the goods to the UK but there is also all the added time with customs checks and paperwork that is required before you will receive the items. Think about the sales that you are going to miss out on every time you don’t have the ability to meet those ‘last minute’ project time requirements.
Chinese Manufacturing is known to work with far lower profit margins than their western equivalents – just ask Apple why their iPhone is manufactured over there. China can mass produce the iPhone far cheaper than any American electronics manufacturer hands down. This means they can ship massive quantities across the globe in a cost-effective manner. For those of us that don’t run a corporation like Apple, what if your requirements are for smaller quantities or one-offs? The chances are they won’t be able to accommodate your orders or you will have to pay far higher rates than any local manufacturer to get them shipped over.
I think it’s fair to say ‘Made in China’ has some negative connotations and it’s for a good reason. A particular case of this in China was when they started adding the element boron to their steel mix. The boron was found to cause the welds to crack. This would be potentially catastrophic if the deck were holding any products or if any warehouse staff were nearby.
The biggest difference is in the steel. For example, we use a steel with a rating of S280 which means that the steel has a structural yield of 280 n/mm². In the Far East, the typical rating is only at S230 and our Director has even seen them as low as S195. Any material that we import, we make sure that we either test it ourselves or send off for testing. This has paid dividend when, back in February, we tested some steel from a new potential supplier, but it came back at a much lower grade than they were claiming.
All of the wire that creates our decks comes from approved sources in Europe that are tested regularly and have a tensile strength of 700MPa. The cheap wire from the far east only tested at 510MPa. It means that if we choose to use a material with softer properties such as a cheaper wire, we would get more elasticity from our product. If we combine this with a softer support bar material such as a S230 you would see a great level of deflection in the product under load.
If you would like to know more, get in contact with one of our team.
We want to open this blog entry by recognising the hard work and dedication that Marcus Rashford has put into trying to eradicate hunger by supplying and campaigning for free school meals. His recent petition to the government to extend free school meals hit over 1 million signatures just 2 weeks after it was setup. He joins an elite group of petitions that have managed to hit over 1 million signatures online; there has only ever been 4 other petitions to reach this amount. The aim was to get Boris Johnson to make the same decision he did just before summer when he decided to extend free school meals over the summer holidays as a result of the current pandemic.
The reality is, we are entering another nation-wide lockdown that is going to hit the country just as hard as it did before, if not, worse. Whilst experts are predicting that the economic impact will not be as severe this time around, but the social impact will be just as big of a problem. The pandemic has already highlighted the class divide in the country with thousands of people struggling to feed themselves and their families which is why Rashford’s initiative is so vital.
How can we help?
We have had a few meetings here at QTS about what we are doing as a company to help locally. We are currently raising money for Rainbows. It is a fantastic charity that are raising money for children and young people. But, after hearing about everything that Rashford is doing, we have been inspired to do more. We understand that many companies are helping at the moment which is why we want to know what it is that you need so that we can truly make a difference. So, if you are a local charity or are involved in one then please get in contact with Will and let us know what we can do.
If you Cast your mind back 10 years, It is strange to think of a world where robots are running our warehouses; but fast-forward to now, this is very much a reality. Warehouse Automation is just around the corner and its possibilities are endless. However, the correct infrastructure would still need to be in place to protect the remaining workforce and your products along with helping the automation to work effectively.
What is warehouse automation and where is it heading?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to head up the whole process of switching to an automated warehouse. AI will offer warehouse managers the ability to stock, pick and manage the inventory of the largest warehouse with minimal human interaction. Data will continually flow through a database management system as all aspects of the warehouse will have to be in constant communication for it to work efficiently. This means, at any point, an operative could have a total stock check, for example, whenever they require.
The main benefits of automation:
- Reduced labour costs (by up to 70%)
- Reduced human error
- Seamless flow from a sale to fulfilment
- No human lives at risk
- Reduced product damage
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Remove bottlenecks from supply chain
There is, however, a large amount of scepticism around trusting robots to do the job; we all know how technology can be so how can we possibly place all our trust in it?
Well the trust will only come with using this kind of technology in practise so to put your mind at ease, here is how our systems could help manage any worry that may come with automating your warehouse.
The rackGUARDIAN™ is an anti-collapse mesh that sits behind your pallet racking system creating a safe barrier between the back of the rack and the walkway behind it. In the instance of automation, if a robot should miss judge loading or unloading a product, it will not be pushed off the back of the system. This will protect anyone walking past from falling objects and protect products from getting damaged.
The rackGUARDIAN™ behind the racking systems will also create a network of walkways (or driveways) around the warehouse. This means that it is easy to design tracks around the warehouse for the new AI robots to follow.
The automated warehouse system is not going to come cheap and will be a relatively complex programme which you would not want untrained professionals having access too. With this, our storGUARD™ would provide the perfect barrier to host any programming software behind a locked cage system. This could also provide a safe space for bots during periods of recharging or inactivity.
So don’t get left behind, check out this video inside Amazon’s automated fulfilment centre to learn more. And if you decide to take the leap, let us help you make it a safe one.