The Covid pandemic has accelerated the upward curve in online shopping to such a degree that many commentators believe this trend will become irreversible. Since the first lockdown over a year ago, the UK’s e-commerce sector has experienced unprecedented expansion, in fact the highest online sales growth in 13 years.
Total online retail sales growth for 2020 was up 36 per cent year-on-year, which according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index was the highest annual performance since 2007.
Whilst there has been massive investment and technological development in warehouse management systems over the past decade, such as in AI-based automation, robotics, and data analytics, which have contributed to this growth curve, the supply chain industry has been under pressure to change more rapidly, as a result of higher volumes of orders and more demanding customer expectations.
The UK has the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe, and it’s expected that this will continue on a sustained skyward trajectory, as the world continues to tackle the pandemic. With 83% of EU consumers saying they intend to continue shopping online post-pandemic, it’s reliant on the e-commerce sector to ensure that it can respond to this growing demand and deliver on customer promises.
As the pandemic took hold, retailers with e-commerce operations faced a range of challenges overnight, as consumers were forced to stay indoors. Those that already had home delivery were at an advantage, whilst others had to pivot quickly. For thousands of businesses, it was a case of expediting an online proposition or face being wiped out.
To meet such a spike in demand, retailers introduced different solutions such as ‘click and collect’, as well as ‘pop-up’ temporary warehousing to create additional capacity to fulfil this demand.
Most of today’s warehouses utilise the standard tools and processes to maximise productivity and eliminate manual inefficiencies, but as consumer behaviour shifts, businesses must continue to deploy the latest innovative supply chain solutions. Robots in particular have been a boon to the supply chain industry, allowing for the automation of repetitive tasks, which frees employees to apply their knowledge and skills to the production process.
With this exponential growth, however, has been the inevitable increase in work-related injuries. Even before the pandemic, the latest available statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), showed that improper manual handling costs the UK economy millions of pounds each year with more than 480,000 manual handling injuries recorded. Musculoskeletal injuries account for over 40% of all work-related sickness and HSE data shows that more than 8.9 million working days are lost to this type of injury each year.
Until robots are delivering goods to our doorsteps, therefore, the physical risks associated with manual handling remain ever present and critical for businesses.
As a specialist in the innovation and development of materials handling solutions, Stanley is focused on helping retailers and logistics providers to mitigate the risk of injury, improve efficiency and thereby reduce cost.
Stanley’s range of powered lightweight stair climbers is proven to deliver safe and cost-effective goods handling, which when scaled up, offers a significant positive return on investment. Ideal for the majority of home deliveries with a carrying capacity of up to 85Kg but weighing just 13.5kg, the Sprinter 85 stair climber trolley offers retailers and logistics firms an ideal solution. With simple push-button control and twin speed function, the trolley’s caterpillar tracks enable a single operator to deliver loads up and down stairs both safely and quickly. Its compact and foldable design facilitates easy on-board stowage, and a one-hour fast charge battery ensures continual reliability.
Commenting on the prospects for the home delivery market in 2021, Stanley’s Managing Director, Graham Sharp, said:
“The growing trend in e-commerce shows no sign of abating even in the wake of the pandemic, so meeting this demand whilst protecting the wellbeing of employees and managing efficiency and cost are key priorities for retailers. As a strategic business partner, Stanley is able to add value through the provision of specially designed solutions to enhance delivery operations and improve safety. Trials of our equipment have proven very successful with major retailers and we are delighted to have become a supply and maintenance partner to Asda, which is the first supermarket to roll out powered stair climbers to its urban delivery fleet.”