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Friday, 5 December 2008

Improvements to our Invoices

Dear Customer
We would like to thank you for all the constructive feedback we are getting from you on our new system. This has been really helpful to us in giving you the correct information on items such as our new invoices and dispatch emails. I would like to bring you up-to-date with further improvements in both of these areas:

We have made two further improvements to our invoices:

  • In the top right corner Our Order number has been added under the delivery and invoice number. This is our internal order number which relates to your purchase order. By quoting this number to our customer services team, they will be able to check on the exact progress of your order.
  • We have also increased the font size of Delivery, Invoice and Our order numbers making them easier to read.
Dispatch email
We have made the following improvements to our dispatch emails:

  1. In order to help you match our delivery to your order, we have now included all the key reference numbers including our order number, the delivery number, account number and your order reference number, in the top right corner of the email.
  2. The subject line of the email now includes our order number and your order reference number.
  3. The column width has been adjusted so that each article now fits on a single line.
  • Only articles that have been put onto backorder from this order are shown (rather than all items on backorder).
  • Backorders fulfilled and sent with this order are shown separately.
*We have had some feedback asking for the font size on the dispatch email to be increased. Unfortunately we are unable to do this, however we suggest that you use the magnify function within adobe to manually increase the text size on your computer screen.

Dispatch Labels
Finally we have also made some slight changes to our dispatch labels.

  1. We have now added your order reference number and our order number onto the label for quick referencing.
  2. The label numbering has also been amended to reduce confusion.
We hope that these changes will further improve our service to you. If you have any queries or further suggestions with regard to our service, please speak to your Area Sales Manager or contact 0800 28 27 28.

4th December

Today we have, in the main, been picking orders placed on Monday 1st December and by this evening will have begun Tuesday 2nd December 2008. Whilst I acknowledge this is not a same day despatch, please be assured we continue to work hard in getting back to this level as soon as we physically can.
VAT - Over the past week we have contacted all our suppliers to ask what their intentions are with regard to reducing the RRP on titles affected by VAT. Most have come back to us, with the majority reducing their RRP’s and I would like to re-emphasise that we are passing this saving on to you. We uploaded over 30,000 price reductions over the past week and I am also pleased to say that we will now be able to pass on VAT savings for all back-orders placed before, but despatched after, the 1st December!
Finally I would like to, once again, apologise for the on-going inconvenience.

28th November - Improvements to our Invoices

Following the implementation of SAP, and listening to feedback from our customers, we have made a number of improvements to your STLD invoices. These improvements will help make invoice signposting much clearer and will reduce confusion that may have occurred. The following changes have been made:
  • Your Order Number - we have found incidences where the order number of the delivery label is different to the order number on the invoice inside the box. This is due to the fact that a delivery can contain consolidated orders and backorders. To solve this issue, the order number on the delivery label and the order number on the invoice will be for the main order fulfilled by that delivery. 

  • Highlighting of consolidated orders - an associated problem with the above issue has been that where orders have been consolidated, there has been no way of determining which order they relate to. To solve this issue the order number for each consolidated order will be included on the invoice above the products it relates to. 

  • Page numbering - there has been a issue with page numbering on invoices. This has now been resolved. 

  • Promotional prices - articles where there has been no promotional price have been showing £0.00 in that field. The promotional field will now show blank where there is no promotional price. 

  • Column headers - previously our new style invoices have only had column headers on the first page of an invoice. This will now feature on all invoice pages.
As a result of the feedback we are continuing to receive from you, we have identified further amendments to our invoices, despatch emails and labels that will be implemented. I shall contact you again next week to update you on these developments. We hope that you will find these improvements useful. If you have any queries or further suggestions on how we can improve our service, please contact our customer services team on 08457 056 568 or speak to your Area Sales Manager.

28th November - VAT Distribution

As I’m sure you are aware, the rate of VAT has been reduced from 17.5% to 15% from 1st December. STL Distribution has been in contact with most of our suppliers, and in a majority of cases, they will be reducing their VAT-inclusive RRPs to reflect this reduction in VAT. So for a significant proportion of our ‘VAT-able’ product lines, STL Distribution is able to pass on these RRP reductions to you.

From Monday 1st December our system shall be set-up to reflect the reduced VAT rate of 15%. This means that you will see reduced prices on a large number of VAT-applicable products including CDs, DVDs and audio books. (Just to remind you that books and Bibles have a zero VAT rating).
The process for updating our websites will take slightly longer. We anticipate that the new prices will be available online from the middle of next week.
If you have any queries regarding our position, please contact you Area Sales Manager or phone 08457 056 568.

25th November

I would like to give you a quick update on the current progress of our new IT system. Progress is being made with the pick, pack and dispatch of orders - we are currently processing orders placed on 19th November.
We are starting to make progress with the back-log in receiving stock on to the system and you should start to see an improvement in our availability.
We continue to be aware of the inconvenience that this is causing you but be assured we are doing all in our powers to achieve the high level of service that you expect from STL Distribution UK.

19th November - Open Letter from Graham Sopp

I am writing to apologise for the problems caused to your businesses as we have gone live with a new software system at STL Distribution.

The decision to change systems was not taken lightly but our old system, which was 20 years old, was beginning to show distinct signs of age and we feared that it would become unstable. We had already found immense problems in trying to upgrade the system to provide functions required by today’s market.

We originally planned to implement the new system in August. However as the date approached, it became apparent that further testing of the new system was necessary before we could commence training people in how to use the system. We were faced with a choice of going live in late October or waiting until January 2009. Unfortunately, we would have faced immense difficulties in standing down our external project team of consultants for three months while we prepared to go live and then to re-assemble that team in January. After extensive testing of the system we were confident we could start with, at most, minor disruption. So we took the decision to go live in October.

Most of the problems we have encountered over recent weeks are related to business process bottlenecks and are not directly related to software and, in fairness to the system team, could not have been anticipated by the extensive testing we carried out.

We have now deployed our warehouse team in a different way which we are confident will optimise the flow of orders through the warehouse.

At today’s date we are picking orders from 13 November onwards and are working hard to catch up.

I am determined to resume same day despatch for the vast majority of orders as quickly as possible, but I need to be confident we can consistently provide this high level of service. I will write to you again soon when I am convinced we can commit to same day despatch.

I know the last few weeks have been difficult for you as our normal service levels have been disrupted and I apologise once again. We are working round the clock to resolve these issues. I would also like to thank those customers who have contacted us expressing their support and understanding for our team in this difficult time.

17th November

Following on from my last communication on the 12th November we have made significant progress with the pick, pack and despatch of orders.

We are currently processing orders dated 12th November and our objective by the close of today is to despatch a large percentage of orders dated 13th November. Orders prior to this date were picked over the weekend and were not despatched until today, Monday 17th November 2008.

I am conscious that we may have a small number of orders that we have not processed and were received prior to the 12th November-08. If by close of play tomorrow (Tuesday 18th November) either the Royal Mail or FedEx have not delivered your order can I ask you to contact service line or 08457 056 568 stating:

  • The day the order was placed
  • Your reference number
  • How your order was placed
  • Your account number
Once again, I apologise for the disruption caused to your business; I can assure you that we continue to work as hard as we can to get back to normal service levels.

12th November

Over the last 48 hours STL Distribution has been reviewing the process involved in pick pack and despatch, which as many of you will be aware have not been operating at the level expected of us.
Since the weekend we have experienced a number of process and technical issues that has either resulted in orders being despatched incomplete despite product being available from within our bulk storage area, or being delayed until we are able to obtain the product from bulk.
The review that took place bought together members from across the business resulting in a plan that started today and will take us through the weekend. This plan will involve the reallocation of labour away from picking to work on refilling shelves. To replace staff taken from picking we have brought in additional agency labour.
To clear the outstanding orders which are waiting product from bulk, we will focus on despatching the oldest first, newer orders will be processed more slowly as we reduce the flow of new orders this week into the warehouse allowing us to despatch outstanding orders.
This will mean that newer order will be delayed for the short term but those of you who are experiencing problems with orders placed earlier this month should see deliveries.
Once outstanding orders have been despatched we will continue to keep resources on refreshing shelves as well as picking allowing us to return to the same day despatch as quickly as possible.
I accept that in the short term you will continued to experience a level of inconvenience for which I apologise but unfortunately this is necessary if we are to resolve these issues.

11th November

The technical issues we have been experiencing over the weekend unfortunately continue to cause us difficulty although we are working hard to resolve them. The fundamental issue is obtaining enough stock from our bulk locations to meet demand. On paper this may sound a simple issue to resolve but in reality is quite the opposite.
I am conscious that this issue is adding to the delay in processing some but not all orders. Our priority remains to fix this issue until which time we are unable to work at full capacity.
Our inability to process orders as quickly as we would like is causing you inconvenience and whilst I can only continue to apologise be assured our goal is to return to a same day despatch as soon as we can.
The team in Carlisle are grateful for your messages of support and prayers and please be assured that our Warehouse and Customer Services teams are working hard to resolve queries and despatch orders.

10th November

We continue to work to resolve a number of on-going issues which are hampering the efficiency within our warehouse and if you are experiencing a turn around of your order longer than the 48 hour we are looking to achieve, I apologise.
Over the latter part of last week our internet provide for encountered problems which prohibited the downloading of orders. Whilst these issues are now resolved, there will be a delay in processing these orders.
I am happy to report that our FedEx link is now operational and orders dispatched from the weekend onwards we are able to track.
We remain acutely aware of the inconvenience that these issues cause you and your customers. Please be assured we are working to resolve them very quickly.
If you continue to have specific concerns please call Customer Services on 0845 705 6568 or email Wayne Johnston at, with a copy of your order, and one of our customer services team will contact you.

7th November

We have experienced some technical issues overnight, which has delayed our progress although we are working to resolve them - for example problems in moving stock from bulk to live racking has delayed the despatch of a number of orders.
Despite these difficulties orders continue to be despatched although some customers may not receive their order within our interim 48 hour dispatch target and for this we apologise. If you have a specific concern please call Customer Services on 0845 705 6568 or email Wayne Johnston at, with a copy of your order, and one of our customer services team will contact you.
We appreciate that this ongoing situation is frustrating for you and your customers, a frustration that that is shared by the entire team in Carlisle.
We will continue to keep you update on our progress after the weekend.

6th November

Our priority over the past week has been to clear the backlog of orders in our system and have these, and all new orders processed as efficiently as possible. In doing this we continue to prioritise all orders by date of receipt with the objective of meeting a 48 hour despatch and in the main we have achieved our interim target of a 48 hour despatch. We continue to contact customers where we know we have problems and if you have not heard from us regarding an order placed prior to the 3rd November 2008 please email Wayne Johnston at, with a copy of your order, and one of our customer services team will contact you.
Our second priority is to improve product availability. Our warehouse staff are working tirelessly to ensure that titles are received on to the system and made available to you as quickly as possible.
Finally, our overall aim is of course to return to the high service levels which you, expect from STL Distribution such as same day despatch.
Whilst we have received many messages of encouragement and support, all of which are very welcome and appreciated by the team in Carlisle, we are conscious that you are at the coal face, to quote a retailer. We do not underestimate the work that you are doing whilst we bed in our new IT system and we don’t take for granted our partnership as we all seek to advance the Christian faith.

5th November

I would like to update you on current progress of our new IT system. The STL Distribution website is now up and running and we continue to prioritise all orders by date of receipt with the objective of meeting a 48 hour despatch.
We are experiencing some technical difficulties with a small number of orders and in particular we have approximately 20 customers who we are aware are experiencing unreasonable delays in receiving their orders. We are endeavouring to resolve the issues around these orders as soon as possible.
If you are one of the few customers who have placed an order prior to the 3rd November and have not yet received it ˆ could I ask you to email this information to Wayne Johnston at, with a copy of your order, and one of our customer services team will contact you.
The warehouse continues to run at full capacity, but we are aware of problems in a number of areas; for example, we have charged carriage on some backorders ˆ this and others we are working rectify as soon as possible.
We are disappointed if we have let you down and we would like to assure you we are doing all we can to meet the service levels you require. We acknowledge that the most important thing we can do at this time is to deliver your orders promptly to your door.

4th November

I am pleased to be able to inform you that yet again the Warehouse operated at full capacity yesterday, Monday 3rd November. However in saying this I am aware that some customers will still be experiencing delays in receiving orders, for this I apologise. The delays you maybe experiencing are in part due to:
1. The large backlog of orders.This backlog is reducing despite an increasing number of orders being sent through to the warehouse as electronic interfaces, which allow order from SyneRgi to come on line.

2. A small number of processes requiring us to check information.
To minimise the delay to you and your customers we have prioritised all orders by date of receipt allowing us to get very near if not at our interim target of a 48 hour despatch.

Whilst it is vitally important we turn your orders around quickly we are also focusing our attention on ensuring the replenishment of product occurs and I am pleased to say we are making in roads into this area and will be releasing a number of key titles, such as the ESV Study Bible and Rob Bell’s book ‘Jesus Wants To Save Christians’.

Our IT team continue to work around the clock to manage any issues as they arise and minimise inconvenience. One interface that has yet to be resolved is the STL Distribution web site. I am informed that significant progress has been made overnight and testing will continue today. Other electronic ordering facilities such as SyneRgi are working well.

If you do have specific questions please do contact Customer Services via phone on 0845 705 6568 or fax 01228 512 785. Please be assured the whole team are working hard to improve our levels of service and I will update you further tomorrow.

3rd November

I would like to update you on the progress STL Distribution UK is making in catching up with the backlog of orders that have accumulated whilst we have migrated from one IT system to another.
The migration of data was successfully completed over the last weekend and once complete the decision was taken to bring departments online on a gradual basis to ensure that errors could be easily identified and allowing staff to gain confidence with live data.
As planned the system went live last Tuesday and we were able to despatch some orders. Orders continued to be despatched everyday last week, although it wasn’t until Friday that we experienced a relatively trouble free day and were operating at anything near full capacity.
We do continue to experience some issues which may cause some inconvenience, e.g. the interface with Fed Ex is not yet operational and we are unable to advise you exactly where your order is once it has left our Warehouse.
Our priority this week is to clear the extensive backlog of orders and look to offer a 48 hour despatch allowing you to communicate to your customers, with confidence, when they can expect their order. Be assured our aim remains to achieve a same day despatch as quickly as possible.
I do acknowledge and apologise that orders are being processed slower than we would want and this reflects on the service you are able to offer your customers. Please be assured that everyone in the organisation is working hard to improve our level of service and I will update you daily with our progress.