As a Cake Stuff customer who uses the Click & Collect service you probably won't have orders delivered by courier very often, so won't receive our automated emails about your delivery and may not know about some of the changes that have been taking place recently
We want to let you know about some of what's been happening and also about more important changes coming very soon. We want to explain the reasons for these changes as fully as possible, without giving away too much that our competitors may find useful (they like to nosey around on our website)
We realise it looks like a lot of information, but if you use the Click & Collect service, you really need to read this . . .
Cake Stuff now operates from 2 warehouse locations . . . 'Warehouse A' is our HQ in Lesmahagow, plus we also now have our new 'Warehouse B'
Warehouse A is packed full with stocks of 8,000 different product lines - everything from tiny cutters to pallets of sugarpaste. Space is at an absolute premium and the lack of space is preventing us expanding the range or operating as efficiently as we want to. Warehouse B allows us to split stock between two locations, freeing up valuable space
We're keeping Warehouse B's location secret as we can't have customers, reps, deliveries etc turning up there. All business, customer service, ordering etc takes place at Warehouse A, leaving Warehouse B to get on with fulfilling their share of orders
At the moment, both Warehouses A and B hold more-or-less the same stock of products. We decided to do it this way until Warehouse B was fully up-and-running, but we are sure you'll agree that it doesn't make sense to have the same products in two places. It makes a lot more sense for us to make use of all that extra space and have each warehouse hold different products
So over the next few months we will continue adding more and more products to the website. In fact, our target is to offer 10,000 different products by the end of the year, making our range the largest in the UK. Some of these products will only be stocked at Warehouse A and some will only be stocked at Warehouse B
Both warehouses will continue to stock of the top-selling essentials like sugarpaste, boards, boxes, colourings etc at least for a while yet, but many of the new products being added this year will only be stocked at one location, which means that some products may not be available for Click & Collect . . . more about that later
The lack of space at Warehouse A also limits the number of people who can work there at the same time, so one of the biggest benefits with opening Warehouse B is that we have a completely separate team picking and packing orders, seven days a week, enabling us to ship orders even faster than normal. In fact, we're now delivering over 90% of all orders EARLIER than the delivery estimate we show at checkout
At the same time, we are implementing our new computerized warehouse / stock management system. The team members picking your orders and checking in deliveries at the back door will be using hand-held scanners rather than printed order forms and the whole system will be much faster, slicker and almost completely automated. This should help us keep over 95% of available product lines in stock at any time
So we can now add thousands more products to the range, we can carry more stock and we can ship orders faster. All of this is vital in helping us keep prices low for our customers. Almost everything we stock has increased in cost due to the poor exchange rate - either because we import it from manufacturers abroad or because it is sugar-based (sugar is traded in Euros or US dollars). Despite almost everything costing us more, we have hardly increased the selling price of any products at all during 2017-18. We can only do this if we are able to purchase in large volume and operate very efficient warehouses
To operate two warehouses efficiently requires some pretty clever computer-geeky-type stuff (that we don't fully understand), so in May 2018 we are beginning a 3 month trial where all orders placed on our website will be automatically split between the two warehouses. Some orders will be sent from Warehouse A and others from Warehouse B; but the really clever bit is where one order is split into two parts - one part shipped from Warehouse A and the other part from Warehouse B
Because we use DPD for most courier deliveries, we can ship one part of the order from Warehouse A with the other part from Warehouse B, and DPD are able to match up the boxes and deliver them to the customer as one consignment - something you'll be used to if you regularly order from Amazon. DPD can still deliver separate boxes at different times of the day because they may be on different vans but that happens with all DPD deliveries, so our split-shipping system is just as reliable as any other DPD delivery
We can do all this at no extra cost to the customer and you still get text / email alerts from DPD to update you, including confirming your one-hour delivery time slot
The Click & Collect service was always supposed to be a temporary way to help customers through the transition from us having a shop to being purely online. However, we moved from our last shop away back in 2004 and every time we discuss the future of Click & Collect at our management team meetings, we can never quite agree if it's time to call it a day or not - so the Click & Collect 'trial period' continues on for a few more months
Please let us state clearly that we do very much value our Click & Collect customers - many of you are long-standing customers and we appreciate your loyalty and support. However, Click & Collect orders make up around only 2% of our total sales and, now that we have two warehouse locations, there are a few really important changes we need you to know about...
Click & Collect was never a faster alternative to having your order delivered - it was purely to offer customers living close enough to Warehouse A the option of picking an order up, if it was more convenient for them
We aim to despatch all orders within 24 working hours of being placed (Express orders are shipped same day). This timescale applies equally to Click & Collect orders, so please remember there could be hundreds (literally) of orders in front of you in the queue and that those customers have the right to expect that their orders are shipped on time
So here's a little reminder of what has always been offered...
Until now, we have prioritised Click & Collect orders but the faster we get, the faster some customers expect us to be. Over the past few months we've been put under increasing pressure to have Click & Collect orders ready much sooner than was agreed at checkout or arriving outside our opening hours. We all work hard to pick every order as quickly as possible but prioritising Click & Collect orders like this has a knock-on effect that can often delay other orders being shipped on time
The new totally automated system explained above and operating two warehouses makes it impossible for us to continue this way any longer
During the 3 month trial we will be closely monitoring all aspects of the business, including the Click & Collect service
We want to be honest with you - the future of Click & Collect is in the balance. If we feel that Click & Collect is no longer compatible with the overall business - if it continues to impact on other customers by delaying orders or takes up a disproportionate amount of time, then it may (sadly) be time to call it a day
On the other hand, if we can get Click & Collect working in a way that fits in with the other 98% of orders we're trying to deliver as quickly as we can from two warehouses, then it may be possible to continue offering the service for some time yet
The 3 month trial should finish in late August. Whatever results it produces and whatever decisions we have to make, we thank you for your continued valued custom and loyal support, we would ask your understanding and hope that we can continue to help you bake it better in the years to come
We will, of course, keep our Click & Collect customers fully updated with developments during the trial period. Just make sure you've opted in to receive our email newsletters