Podcast: Helping RSPB Handle 250% Spike in Online Orders During Pandemic

Amanda Mulquiney-Birbeck
Amanda Mulquiney-BirbeckDigital Marketing Manager
17 Jul 2020




Welcome to “The End to End eCommerce Playbook” hosted by Maginus. In this series, we’ll share tips, tactics and real customer insights to help you take your online business to the next level.

Podcast Episode  Helping RSPB Handle 250% Spike in Orders During Pandemic

In this podcast we chat to Wayne Martin, Operations Manager at RSPB about:

  • The impact of the Covid crisis on RSPB
  • How they've managed to handle a 250% spike in online orders
  • How they've managed to improve productivity AND keep workers safe
  • How Maginus OMS has helped

For more information our work with the RSPB:



Hi, i'm Janice Mawhinney, Marketing Manager at Maginus. Welcome to episode four of The End-to-End eCommerce Playbook. In this session i'm talking to Wayne Martin, Operations Manager at RSPB. We're going to discuss the impact of the Covid crisis on RSPB, how they've managed to handle a 250% spike in online orders and keep workers safe, and how Maginus OMS has helped to improve their productivity.

Right, let's get started.  


Janice: Right, question number one… so Wayne how has the Covid crisis affected the RSPB business?

Wayne: Due to the lockdown RSPB had to close all their reserves, and on each of the reserves is a store, and what what that did was push the demand through the warehouse - online. We had an uplift in web sales of 250% of what we'd normally be getting this time of year. So, we had the challenges of picking a lot more orders (with less people). I couldn't increase the head count due to the social distancing issues that we were going through. So, we had to to use the system and we had to work quickly because the orders were coming in so fast. We had to work quickly on different ideas of how we could manipulate Maginus OMS to work for us faster. So what we were able to do is take the order pool and manipulate it so we could pull out orders that were in certain aisles  which allowed us to put in place the social distancing measures in place – so we weren’t overcrowding one aisle with say 10, 15 pickers at a time. We were able to spread the pickers out. It's about keeping that two metre distancing rule in place…. We bought in a small cleaning station… all the stations now have perspex between them to ensure that we've got as much social distance in as possible and I think it's paid off.

When you look at the things that are going on in Leicester at the moment - they've gone back into lockdown - and they’re claiming some of their work areas are just carrying on as normal - and they've seen a spike. So we've done everything that we can to ensure that we're not flooding the place with people we're spreading them out and we've delivered more, with the same. So it's it's been a win-win. On average we'd have around about two pickers per aisle covering around about 18 bays. So there’s plenty of space for them to do the social distancing - no bottlenecking or bumping into each other which allowed us to actually increase our productivity.

Janice: So you've had to reduce the number of pickers per aisle and you've had this massive increase in orders so how have you actually increased the productivity?

Wayne: What [Maginus OMS] did was it [allowed] us to reduce the pickers travel time. So rather than the picker going out with say five orders and he would be picking the five orders throughout the eight or nine racks that we pick from. We were able to narrow it down so that the pickers were picking  a lot quicker than they'd normally do. So we're having to take time out to to manipulate the system, but what Maginus has allowed us to do is alter the way that we could release the orders.

Another report that Maginus was able to give us - is what we call a “hit list” or a heat map - which could identify how many times we were visiting a location. If we're not visiting a location and it was sitting outside the footprint. Maginus would show us the most economic footprint to finish the pick.

So we're able to move product that could all of a sudden become slow moving - we could move that out of the footprint, further down the warehouse, and bring the faster moving stock back again. Again, this all helped increase productivity at a time that we needed it.

Janice: Yeah, because you think that that massive increase in order volumes - with no increase in staff – you’d think you'd end up with a massive list of back orders wouldn't you?

Wayne: Yeah yeah absolutely! So we were very happy. I think obviously RSPB shutting their stores down was for a charity like RSPB and was a a big income loss for them - so for us to be able to keep up with the demand showed through I think absolutely.

Janice: So in effect then the additional orders from online have actually sort of balanced out the loss of orders from the store is that right?

Wayne: I believe so yeah – now that people have come online –  they’ll probably use the web a little bit more now.

Janice: Obviously your staff have had to react very quickly. Have you found that OMS has helped you to manage this increasing workload? Do you think you could have managed without OMS or not?

Wayne: No, absolutely. In the past, the old system that we use to use, before Maginus, this  would not have handled the amount of orders. I think when we went live with Maginus nearly three years ago now, coming up to, the system we used before. We used to do two shifts - we'd do a six, two, two, ten and it was really difficult to get the orders through the system and out. So when Maginus came along, on the old system - the record was around about 1,300 orders a day over two shifts, and when Maginus this went live - within two weeks we'd done orders 2,200 orders in one shift. So it was it was a massive, massive change for us.

Janice: Whats’ the busiest day been during the Covid crisis?

Wayne: We've had a 2,800 orders been pushed through the system in one eight hour shift. We're still breaking records on a weekly basis. How many orders - now we've done a 10,000 orders - done over five days. so as an average we've been doing two thousand orders a day.

Janice: That's a big difference isn't it. So that must improve the ROI in terms of the the cost of the warehouse?

Wayne: I guess yeah - the return on investment is being paid off quite quickly absolutely.

Janice: That's good to hear!...

Janice: You've made these changes that have actually increased your productivity during the Covid crisis. Do you think you're going to continue to use those? or will there be other new things that you'll bring into place going forward?

Wayne: Absolutely without a doubt that we'd be using the same tactics that we've used during the COVID situation into Q4. It’s our busiest period. It's given us a good test over these last three months of what Christmas will be like and we've sailed through the last three months so we're not fearing a Christmas rush. As you know retailing and Christmas can be quite a painful time for distribution. So what we've implemented over the last three months we'll definitely be rolling it into Q4 this year. It’s normally RSPB's busiest period so we will be using the heat maps to ensure that products in the right place, we will be using the picking out the aisle method to speed up the pick. Anything that helps us and that’s what Maginus gives us.

If we hadn't have done these we would have been so far behind we would probably have never caught up. So we had to act to make sure that we did things differently because the demand coming through would have either had to increase headcount which we couldn't because of the social distancing. You're adding more people into a potentially dangerous situation so we had to work and think differently to ensure that we could get the product out with the same people. So this is has given us confidence that we can deliver the number of volumes with the same staff. We all know that the headcount is probably the biggest cost in any operation so keeping the head count down while still maintaining a KPI for productivity and delivery, cost, quality all come into play - it's great. 

For more information about our work with the RSPB watch our latest video case study.



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