Written by
Ian Dade
StoreFeeder
On
February 8, 2024
Contents

The evolution of our system

February 8, 2024

In recent weeks, our blogs have focused on what StoreFeeder WMS can offer your business, in terms of efficiency improvements, accuracy gains, reduced costs and time savings through automated processes.

But any provider can throw claims like this around, sure. But we back these up not only with customer testimonials, but also with a reassurance that we know what we are doing through how our system came to be.

Did you know that StoreFeeder WMS was developed within a warehouse to meet a specific need, and grew from there? Read on…

How it all began:

StoreFeeder began, like all great inventions, through necessity. Our founder and MD, Brian Williamson and our Operations Manager, Ian Dade, met in 2002 when Brian came to work for a 3PL (third-party logistics) company that Ian was managing warehouse operations for at the time.

Within a few years they rightly thought there must be a software solution to operational problems within the business’s warehousing, stock management and despatch elements as everything was very much manual and paper based, and Brian was tasked with developing a solution enabling stock management and reducing picking and despatch errors.

Roll forwards to 2007 and the very first iteration of a WMS was up and running within the warehouse.

Later in 2007, the 3PL exhibited at a trade show in London and we spoke about the software with prospective customers, with great feedback. This is also where we first met Metapack.

This meeting paved the way for a more detailed and automated courier function to be utilised in the warehouse, using Metapack as the engine. It truly changed the way the WMS was operating in the warehouse and really started to achieve the greater efficiency and accuracy that Ian had been striving for.

At that same time, the evolution of APIs for marketplaces and couriers was in full swing, and it was an inevitable next step for the development team to begin integrating into the most popular marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and form its own direct API’s with couriers such as Royal Mail and DPD.

A couple of years of hard work by Brian, assisted by Ian’s knowledge of warehouses, some arguments, compromises on both sides, and probably a few hundred mugs of tea, and a more intuitive software that worked well within a busy warehouse environment was built, tested, and running, StoreFeeder was born.

The system worked so well, and Ian was so happy and impressed with the difference it made to his warehouse, that Brian and the owner of the 3PL decided to launch StoreFeeder as a stand alone piece of software into the relatively new multi-channel software market.

2011 saw the first real promotion of the system as it was showcased at Internet Retailing Expo in Birmingham and eCommerce Expo in London.

At both events the system drew some major interest from retailers and potential marketplace and courier partners, and a couple of the established multi channels system providers started to take notice of StoreFeeder as well.

Brian and Ian in 2011 at eCommerce Expo, London

How we became part of the Royal Mail Group:

Rapid growth and development took place over the next few years as more customers came on board, more functionality was developed, and more couriers and channels became integrated.

In 2015, Brian and Ian had a chance meeting with Royal Mail and a conversation about how other couriers were utilising API’s to link directly to eBay took place and Royal Mail liked what we were saying. How we used these API’s to run StoreFeeder and the WMS, and being able to show them orders coming in directly from channel, and being shipped by the scan of a barcode within the 3PL warehouse itself got them thinking.

Ian and Brian were invited down to Royal Mail to speak to senior managers about a project to allow Royal Mail customers to link their sales channels to a Royal Mail system and print labels.

That meeting led to the contract to design and build what is now Royal Mail’s Click & Drop platform.

And we stepped up, delivering a fully operational system within 12 weeks.

The project and resulting uptake in participation of Royal Mail customers meant that Royal Mail saw StoreFeeder as an integral part of the operation and bought the company. So as of 2015, StoreFeeder became part of the Royal Mail Group.

How we have grown and developed:

So now as a business, we operate StoreFeeder as a tool for online sellers to better manage their warehouses and the Click & Drop system for Royal Mail, and both sides of the business have grown and developed and become valuable tools for their users.

For StoreFeeder the development of our WMS app has been the biggest enhancement of the system in recent years.

In 2017 we launched a basic app, that allowed the picking and booking in of deliveries through a handheld Android device.

Since then, 2 redesigns and a lot of new functionality meetings later, and the app delivers users the ability to pick, book in, transfer, despatch, stock check, view products, adjust inventory and much more, all in the palm of your hand.

The WMS app sets our system apart from the competition and will continue to do so as it develops in line with evolving needs of a busy eCommerce warehouse operation.

2024 and beyond:

Well, the 3PL still uses our system and app, and is very much still a partner of ours, even though Brian and Ian no longer work for the business itself. They are still our test bed, our sounding board for ideas as that is where it all came from. A lot of the staff who started the journey to improved WMS functionality with Ian all those years ago, still work there and are quick to tell us what they think, good or bad. You can’t buy that honest feedback, backed up by nearly 20 years of actual use of the StoreFeeder system and app.

StoreFeeder as a business now employs 70+ people with teams in the UK and Poland. We employ some very talented people who really care about the products they are developing for you to use.

And for our customers and users, we are conscious that we are more than just a tool for the warehouse. Businesses depend on us, and we do not take that lightly.

Every business owner has employees to pay, each of those employees has a mortgage, family, bills and all of them are reliant on our system being the best it can be to help their employers make money to pay their wages. That is why we strive to make the system as efficient and accurate as it can be for eCommerce businesses and is what drives us to constantly review and improve.

Throughout the time that we have been operating, we have seen customers revenue grow by an average of 31% within the first 18 months of coming on board. Our mission is to help businesses like yours grow to their full potential.

StoreFeeder’s ethos is to give merchants the tools to work on the business, not in the business and provide a stable, high-performing platform that offers efficiency and accuracy benefits, not matter what size the business is.

StoreFeeder now has thousands of users. We listen to them, why wouldn’t we, they help us to keep improving StoreFeeder.

As we started in the business of fulfilling orders ourselves in the 3PL our users know that we understand them and their needs.

That is StoreFeeder, what a journey it has been…

Oh, and Brian and Ian, despite many disagreements and a few pints over the years, are still working together for StoreFeeder, just less hair and a few more stress lines, but both proud of where the system came from, where it is going and what is does for our customers businesses every day.

Brian and Ian in 2023

For more information visit our website

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