In this blog we talk to Chris Tonks, Codestorm’s Chief Technology Officer and head of the development team that created Codestorm LINK, our fully integrated warehouse management system.
What is LINK and why was it developed?
Chris: When we purchased Codestorm in 2014 it was clear that our clients were moving towards out-of-the-box e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Magento. We wanted to offer our clients something which gave them the same level of technicality, flexibility and ease of use but in the field of e-commerce fulfilment.
LINK was designed to work seamlessly alongside clients’ e-commerce platforms to give full visibility of all third-party logistics services we offered them.
For Codestorm it allowed us to streamline and standardise all parts of our internal fulfilment process from start to finish.
For our clients it gave them full control of the service we were providing them and allowed them to monitor and measure our performance at any time.
Describe LINK in three words.
Chris: Transparent, flexible and scaleable.
What were the major challenges in its development?
Chris: We had to build and implement LINK whilst still using our legacy systems – there couldn’t be any downtime in between. We had to spin those plates!
All of LINK’s component parts had to be designed and developed from scratch as they were not available off the shelf – there were no short cuts – everything had to be built from the ground up and there was a lot of work into the methodology to make sure it was scaleable and manageable in the long term.
Which businesses and sectors are LINK perfect for?
Chris: LINK is perfect for all sectors and sizes of business, whether you’re a start-up brand, an established subscription company, a large membership organisation or an international charity. It is flexible enough to cater for varying requirements such as specific pick and pack instructions, bespoke print, bespoke postage rules and in-depth reporting. Our clients include sports nutrition brands, male grooming products, unions, professional bodies and large charities.
Which LINK feature are you most proud of?
Chris: The print engine – it enables our customers to create and manage their own print template library. When coupled with their data, it enables the client to have a printed product which is bespoke and individual, based on the data provided for each customer. The printing possibilities are endless.
What e-commerce industry trends or headlines are you currently keeping a close eye on and why should clients care about these issues too?
Chris: Block Chain Technology. You will hear this get mentioned more and more.
It is already widely associated with its cryptocurrency guise. Examples include Bitcoin, Ethereum and Lite coin to name a few. The technology behind this actually has a lot more uses as it is a decentralised ledger of encrypted transactions. Using this technology, coupled with GPS and the mobile data network, it will soon be possible for buyers to request very specific delivery locations such as the boot of cars or locked porches which can be transitionally unlocked and opened by the delivery driver.
This gives the customer complete control of the buying process. It’s all about convenience, security and that ensuring delivery is made correctly, first time.
What new technology or innovations in the world of e-commerce logistics and warehouse management are you most excited about?
Chris: RFID technology (wireless barcoding) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These will result in a move towards machine-based processes involving goods inward, stock control, order picking and packing and despatch.
Artificial Intelligence can also be harnessed to determine customers’ likes/dislikes based on preferences so packaging can be personalised or relevant items can be inserted into the package which they are interested in.
Both are the next level of personalisation and accuracy – more transparency, flexibility and scalability.
How will LINK respond to these?
Chris: LINK is based on a modular design so new features can be added with minimal disruption. We have already successfully worked with our clients to develop bespoke functionality and integration. LINK is based on a sound methodology and can integrate whatever new technologies the future may bring – we will continue to help our clients grow their business, improve their customers’ experience and gain visibility and control of orders and inventory.
At Codestorm we see clients as partners and so are happy to share our knowledge and expertise with you whether you are a start-up business or large company with over 5,000 orders per week. If you would like to discuss any of these issues with Chris or any of our other industry experts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.