Driving operational efficiency


Breathe Technologies was appointed to support QVC UK with an outbound despatch system that would keep pace with QVC UK’s sales activity and enable them to always provide competitive customer service.

QVC UK has the largest shopping channel in Britain and an interactive website, which offers a wide variety of consumer branded products. The new outbound system aimed to:

  • Meet the increased demand of higher customer SLAs
  • Provide real-time reporting on pre-defined KPIs
  • Despatch a large product range from a varied supplier base efficiently
  • Reduce reliance on manual systems


Phase 1

A series of automated systems and improvements to manual systems to add efficiency and trackability to each aspect of QVCs outbound processes.

2 automated Bagging lines; a complex software driven automation system able to manage high order volumes from several sales channels plus peaks from regular promotions leading to throughput of over 1,100 orders an hour for each line

Further automation included 3 over shipping labelling systems – a dual purpose label where the despatch note and shipping address label are combined together into one label fixed to the outside of the carton, without the need to open and reseal the carton

A software enabled manual packing line that supported volume peaks.

Offline ‘uglies’ cell that allowed large out of gauge products that don’t feed into the main sortation system to be processed

Phase 2

3 x semi-automated desktop bagging machines for jewellery orders. Breathe created data and user software interfaces with the desktop baggers that improved the efficiency and visibility of the packing process. This achieved throughput of 2000 jewellery orders per hour, error reduction and improved lead times that enabled next day delivery.

At a later date, Breathe optimised the operation again by upgrading the software interface to support quick and accurate shipping label creation.

Phase 3

A software upgrade to optimise the existing automated bagging lines

Breathe’s high level software is an ideal solution to connect with incumbent WMS systems removing the need for complex IT intervention while facilitating additional growth and demand in the business. It’s ability to connect with automated systems ensures a joined up approach between all operational aspects.


Overall Phases 1 and 2 saw automated warehouse throughput increase to 8,000-9,000 per hour – as a result of more efficient picks, improved space utilisation and less reliance on manual processes. Breathe’s high level software provide real time reporting against KPIs and transparency of processes and events across the automated system.

The final phase 3 upgrades saw further improvements

  • Increased throughput from 1100 to 1240 orders per hour enabling a reduction from two shifts to one
  • Reduced lead time and errors and greater productivity
  • Further improvements to space utilisation

Overall QVC saw a significant reduction in unit cost per parcel, an improved customer experience and constant real time ability to track the progress of each order.

“Breathe Technologies has a strong grasp of the QVC installation, current operations and our project requirements. Their willingness to help, alongside a ‘can do’ solution approach, provides and excellent customer service experience.”

Andy Shuker, Distribution Systems Manager, QVC