Philip J Openshaw - stock.adobe

Waterstones’ supply chain disrupted in Blue Yonder implementation

Bookseller Waterstones is recovering from the effects of a Blue Yonder implementation that has seen authors and readers up in arms

Retailer Waterstones says it is working hard to get over a supply chain glitch that arose after a recent Blue Yonder software implementation.

According to a Waterstones’ statement: “Waterstones last month upgraded the system that manages stock distribution from our warehouse to Blue Yonder technology. This is now operational, with stock flowing to our bookshops and customers. Over the implementation period, however, a backlog of orders was created which we are now processing as quickly as we can.

"We have been in contact with customers whose orders have been delayed to apologise for the inconvenience. We very much regret the unusual slowness, and we are pleased to have orders running again normally."

The bookseller said it expects the backlog of stock deliveries into shops to catch up over the "quiet August period", with new releases  being processed without delay.

"By September we anticipate beginning to benefit from the much more sophisticated platform now at our disposal," the company said.

The glitch provoked a Twitter storm from readers unable to get their hands on some summer reading.

Art historian Janina Ramirez was among the authors who took to the social media platform to assuage the disgruntled: “So sorry for anyone awaiting #Femina due to the #waterstones situation. I promise it’s worth the wait!!!”

Femina is an important new history of the middle ages from a feminist perspective, “giving voice to the influential women of the Middle Ages who have been silenced by male gatekeepers”.

The Guardian’s David Barnett cited Edinburgh-based author and Scotland independence activist Sara Sheridan who said her latest novel, The Fair Botanists, was Waterstones’ Scottish book of the month, “but lots of shops ran out [because] of the ordering glitches”.

Also evident from Twitter is that Waterstones staff bore the brunt of some customer ire. “I had a customer throw a book at me,”, reported The Bookseller, in a full report of the fiasco.

Waterstones added in its statement: "We note some of the public commentary, much of which complains that we have under-bought some titles. Unfortunately, no amount of sophisticated new warehouse systems changes the fact that as booksellers we choose what to buy, sometimes being a little too reticent, sometimes too enthusiastic. We can’t blame Blue Yonder for this.”

Blue Yonder is an Arizona-based supplier of supply chain software. It was acquired by Panasonic in 2021 for $7.1bn, and was formerly known as JDA Software. Its 2021 top-level revenue was $1.1bn.

Its software includes warehouse management, transportation management, supply chain planning, merchandising, workforce management and retail planning. And its Luminate platform is said to use machine learning technologies to make its supply chain management software work autonomously.

Its current chief executive is a Briton, Duncan Angove, formerly president of Infor, and who featured several times in Computer Weekly in that role. The book retailer, founded by Tim Waterstone in 1982, employs 3,500 staff.

Computer Weekly has contacted Blue Yonder for further comment.

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