Q&A: Jon Stockton, Managing Director, Whistl Fulfilment
Jon is Managing Director of Whistl Fulfilment, the UK’s leading independent provider of e-fulfilment solutions.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Prior to joining the Whistl team earlier this year I spent 26 years of my career with TNT Express which became FedEX. My last role was as Vice President Ground Operations UK and I have held a variety of leaderships roles in that time.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Whistl is the UK’s leading logistics specialist in e-fulfilment, contact centres, mail and parcels. Our focus is to support our clients with the right solutions for their needs from our portfolio of tailored solutions ensuring the best possible service for businesses and brands.
What’s special about your approach?
At Whistl our mission is to grow by doing a great job with ‘can do’ people working efficiently to deliver exceptional service. That means that we always demonstrate a flexible and open approach to every interaction we have with both existing and prospective clients tailoring solutions to their specific business needs. Our in-house technology is key as it helps transform a multitude of complexities into a simplified solution making training and usage easier.. Our approach is about developing a long term partnership supported at Board level rather than just a short term revenue gain. A further USP would be that the wider Whistl Group offers a range of complimentary services to Fulfilment such as our Parcel and International delivery management.
What advantage does it add?
Quite simply our approach sees us build meaningful, sustainable long term partnerships with customers which provide opportunities for growth on both sides. There are many examples of significant growth for both Whistl and our Fulfilment customers.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
We take the time to work with our customers to carefully capture all of the pre-requisites for a successful implementation – from IT development to operational execution. Alongside the traditional operational and financial KPI measurements for success (both internally and externally) we assess our implementations in the longer term on customer retention and further business growth. Regular reviews with customers where open and transparent feedback is always encouraged give us an ongoing sense of the satisfaction that they have with our services and solutions.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
Customers use our infrastructure and approach to deliver upon their own strategic objectives. Good examples of where they benefit would include:
- Speed of delivery to end users e.g. our cross-dock model for stock which provides fast turnaround of orders
- Innovative and pro-active approach to change key disciplines in line with market forces / expectations e.g. real-time PI (Perpetual Inventory), Cross-Border Fulfilment post Brexit
- Quality and excellence through real time inventory and activity tracking resulting in a high percentage of stock accuracy and giving full visibility
- The Whistl approach and speed of decision making for key investments e.g. new property, automation, resources
- Flexibility to change objectives according to demand
For Sports Pursuit we provide e-commerce fulfilment for flash sales and stock holding models. We have worked with them since their early launch days seven years ago now as an over £65m turnover business, despatching over 1 million orders a year.
We have developed a real time perpetual inventory system which operates without the need to stop operations for a stock check. This has led to lower charges and increased speed with the ability for one hour despatch for deliveries. We have also developed a cross border closed loop solution to avoid double duty, delays in customs clearance, bulk clearance of goods to reduce costs and increased cost of carriage for its operations in Germany
Are there other companies you partner with?
We partner with a multitude of other companies to provide day to day operational support including carriers, recruitment agencies and packaging companies for example. In addition to this we have developed a number of key strategic partnerships, most notably with a market leading mid-sized European fulfilment provider. We have successfully integrated this partner onto the Whistl platform and enabled a number of our customers to overcome the challenges that Brexit has provided allowing them to expand their service offering beyond the UK.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2022 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2021?
During 2021 retailers have found it challenging to be able to accurately understand and plan their forecasting due to the unprecedented volume surges experienced last year as a result of the pandemic. This has meant it has been difficult to precisely predict volume trends and I believe that this is likely to continue into 2022. In addition, there are labour shortages in key areas such as warehousing and drivers that will mean that both retailers and their suppliers will need to continue to think differently and innovate to maintain and improve their service provision.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Whistl has an excellent track record of collaborating and engaging with their customers and suppliers to keep abreast of the changing dynamics of the marketplace, and we will continue to do so. At Whistl we can demonstrate our ability to make key decisions quickly and decisively. This has enabled customers to continue to innovate and adapt to growth surges and I believe that this will be a critical success factor as we continue to grow our fulfilment business.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
Our objective is to be the largest independent fulfilment company in the United Kingdom providing full multi-site end to end services for medium sized brands and retailers (c. £5m – £100m turnover) including;
- Pick and pack
- Contact centre management
We have the flexibility and the ability to realise this objective through our infrastructure and our people.
Any final thoughts?
This is an exciting time for Whistl Fulfilment – there are many opportunities for us to support customers with the changing face of retail and we have the right people in the team to deliver the right solutions to meet their needs. Whistl committed to continued investment where it makes financial sense for both us and our customers and we have a number of key strategic initiatives, particularly in automation that we expect to come to fruition in the early part of next year. It’s a great time to be a part of one of the fastest growing areas of e-commerce retail.
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