Can UK retailers operate like Amazon?

As every retailer knows, customers are increasingly demanding. They expect to choose from a greater range of products and want delivery to be almost immediate.  It’s by satisfying these demands and setting new standards for customer service that Amazon has become so phenomenally successful.

The retail giant has also benefited from the accuracy of its data, which means that it knows the cost of each sale and is not eroding its profit margins. On the other hand, too many mid-size retailers are missing out on this vital piece of intelligence. As a result, they’re often spending too much resource on fulfilling orders and are therefore not as competitive and profitable as they should be.

It’s little wonder retailers large and small have been looking at what Amazon and others such as John Lewis do so well and asking how they can apply it to their own operations to increase customer satisfaction ratings and to improve their bottom line.

Very often, though, their focus will be on non-differentiating administration tasks, says Derek O’Carroll, chief executive of Brightpearl, a leading retail management platform.

“Retailers need to be looking at their back office operations for efficiency gains,” he explains.  “All too often they’re using intelligent, skilled and well paid staff to do simple manual jobs such as chasing up orders and checking on inventory when these people would be much better deployed talking directly to customers.”

Improved automation of back-office operations is the key to freeing up this human talent so it can be used to answer customer queries more quickly and provide the kind of human service that customers value.

“Our customer service has significantly improved since using Brightpearl and we now see a very positive feedback score. Being customer focused is really important to us. We love being able to look after our customers and not having to worry about time-consuming back-office operations,” says Clifton Vaughan, director and co-founder of Natural Baby Shower, which specialises in natural eco-friendly products for babies.

Brightpearl brings together accurate trading activity and financial data, which reveals the true cost of any order, in an easy-to-use one-stop shop.

“It’s increasingly important for managers to be able to access all trading and financial information in a single platform,” says Mr O’Carroll.  “They need to prevent inaccuracies and that’s why our clients tell us how much they appreciate our real-time accounting and reporting.”

Pressure on better margins and just-in-time supply chain management are making Brightpearl’s ability to minimise disputes with vendors, stockouts and double-selling increasingly appealing to a wide variety of mid-sized retailers.

Developments in technology mean this kind of retail automation isn’t solely the preserve of the big players like Amazon anymore.

More and more retailers are realising that automating their back office is essential for success. Brightpearl is trusted by more than 1,200 retail businesses and £1 billion in gross merchandise volume was processed through the platform in 2016. It typically processes 30,000 orders a day, over an average of three sales channels per retailer. In addition, Brightpearl merchants last year traded in 33 currencies across 26 countries.

Mr O’Carroll believes flexibility and connectivity are key to Brightpearl’s appeal to retailers. Its system is designed to work seamlessly with popular e-commerce channels such as Magento, for which it offers the simplicity of an off-the-shelf connector with the power and flexibility of a customised integration at a fraction of the cost.

Brightpearl experienced growth through Magento of 40 per cent last year, closely followed by 38 per cent for Shopify and 25 per cent for Bigcommerce.

“Retailers need to act more quickly than ever these days,” says Mr O’Carroll, “and I think that’s why our customers like the fact they can launch our product three times faster than they can with other systems. They also appreciate that it can be run by anybody – there’s no need for a dedicated administrator.

“Ambitious, fast-growing brands like the way we can help them break into new markets quickly and easily while keeping their costs down.”

As customers become more demanding, both in terms of price and service, the pressure is growing on retailers. “They need to position themselves for the future and that’s why they need a solution that will grow with them and can be scaled up,” says Mr O’Carroll. “The future of retail offers major challenges, but with an effectively automated back office, ambitious mid-size retailers can operate like Amazon.”

For more information please visit