Retailers are having to adapt to massive changes in customer product buying behaviour. Many of these changes are due to increased connectivity through faster digital, and often mobile, technologies and has led to e-commerce being expected to account for over 25% of all retail sales by 2021.

Commerce through multiple touchpoints empowers the consumer in many ways, but as transaction speeds increase so too do expectations on product choice and deliverability. It therefore often falls to leading providers of warehouse and distribution solutions to keep up with the speed of online sales, same or next day delivery promises and distribution to high street retailers in the most efficient way possible.

Online merchants frequently compete on price and huge players like Amazon develop flexible distribution systems with warehouses often being strategically located within a targeted geographical area so that they are able to fulfil and ship orders in the quickest time possible.

Those hoping to compete in the same arena as the likes of Amazon could do worse than heed the words of Steve Jobs: “You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.”

Competing on price is often difficult to achieve for small to medium-sized businesses who just don’t have the negotiating power of the large enterprises. It is, however, possible for them to compete on delivery times if they can achieve a fast throughput of goods by combining an efficiently organised environment with technologically advanced production and labelling lines.

Regardless of size, any e-commerce business that can eliminate costly bottlenecks in the supply chain, often caused by traditional print and apply labelling systems, will achieve a faster turnaround of their products and will be able to compete more effectively and win new business.

One key way of removing such problems is by installing a state-of-the-art labelling system such as QuickTamp, available from ILS and already in use with Ebay. It is a fast and flexible applicator developed by Evolabel that can handle packages of all dimensions at fast speeds.

A crucial advantage of this type of labelling system is its ability to achieve high-precision labelling with impressive line speeds even when the height and dimensions of packages are changing randomly. For example, QuickTamp enables the processing of up to 40 random or fixed-height packages per minute at line speeds of up to 60m/min. Accurate application is assured thanks to the equipment’s height measuring sensor which creates a uniform positioning and removes the potentially error prone task of manual labelling.

Based on Evolabel’s unique Tactile Apply Solution, QuickTamp constantly monitors and controls movement to ensure both the integrity of the package and employees’ safety. The equipment is driven by a pulse, encoder-controlled stepper motor, has a carbon fibre shaft to hold the label firmly in place and a patented 3D printed applicator pad that locates its target quickly and applies each label with unerring accuracy. For safety reasons, if the movement is restricted in any way, the system will immediately stop with an alarm or warning.


In order to ensure maximum throughput, it offers the possibility of a standby arrangement where two machines can be configured together to eliminate all media changeover downtime. In the fast-paced 3PL environment, this type of advantage can help all businesses keep up with the growing demands of traditional or e-commerce retail.

It is worth bearing in mind that an increase in sales orders does not necessarily lead to more money for a business. If there are backlogs in the supply chain due to inefficient or poor labelling systems, businesses may end up compensating disgruntled customers whose expectations are not being met. In turn, this will inevitably have a negative impact on the business in terms of product wastage, poor reviews and lack of repeat business in the future.

If businesses are to keep pace with customer expectations of accurate and ultra-fast delivery of their orders, consideration must be given to installing fully automated in-line labelling systems that are dynamic in nature, user friendly and can be robust enough to cope with growing throughput without breaking down.


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