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There is no denying digital media has disrupted the book publishing industry, but what is becoming more evident is that customers still love to own physical books! With all formats of books set to continue to be in demand, it is even more important that your business remains as competitive as possible.

Share your positive story that ends with your warehouse operations delivering efficiencies on every level.


WHSmith, a leading UK retailer has a long-standing relationship with Breathe working on a range of bespoke automation and software solutions over the last decade. From high speed sortation to a returns Warehouse Management System, Breathe aims to deliver efficiency improvements on every level.

  • Increased despatch and returns throughput via high speed sortation
  • Intelligent software controlling high speed sortation, packing and labelling, ensuring complete accuracy
  • Elimination of product damage
  • Significant reduction in time-consuming manual systems and sorting processes
  • Accurate audit trails provided by real-time communications of books scanned, weighed, sorted and despatched
  • Seamless integration of automation hardware and high-level software in both new and incumbent systems
  • Reporting – increase your reporting capabilities with software that will manage large volumes of system data

Phase 1 solution 2010-2011: High speed sortation

WHSmith originally commissioned Breathe to help the business manage the sortation of different return orders from its stores. With hundreds of thousands of books being manually sorted before going back to various publishers with specific packing requirements, WHSmith needed a way to deal with the following challenges:

  • Very high labour requirements
  • Lack of visibility across sort operations
  • Daily volumes needed to increase
  • Poor accuracy

The Solution

Breathe installed physical hardware to sort books supported by digital automation to manage the orders, providing accurate reporting.



order throughput per hour

Reduced overheads through introduction of high speed sortation system.

Increased accuracy

Improved reporting for operations & management to make decisions.

Phase 2 Custom Returns WMS & Obsolescence Updates 2019:

The Challenge

WHSmiths’ Business requirements have evolved over the last decade to meet the demands of the market. Breathe Technologies was appointed in 2019 to tackle the following:

  • Number of systems were end of life managing the warehouse process 
  • Data requirements had changed and systems no longer fit-for-purpose
  • Accuracy needed improving 
  • Reduction in labour intensity 
  • Clearer picture of sortation system before and after phase 1
  • Ability to manage picking not just returns

The Solution

Breathe delivered a Customer Returns WMS to manage end to end – goods in to despatch.


Increased productivity

Ability to manage picking as well as returns.

Improved operational visibility

Increasing functionality to support business requirements and improve system utilisation.