By Claire West

Royal Mail today announced an out-of-the-box e-commerce fulfilment tool specifically designed to help small to medium-sized retailers save time on order management processes so that they can concentrate on expanding their businesses.

Royal Mail's E-commerce Engine® has been developed in response to evidence that many smaller e-tailers are spending time managing customer orders and dealing with storage and despatch issues at the expense of focussing on business growth.

The Royal Mail E-commerce Engine® is ideal for store-based, online and multi-channel retailers who want to expand their presence to new sales channels to grow their businesses. The solution helps to give a single management view of an e-tailer's different sales channels, inventory listings, customer orders and communications with simple feeds to accounts and logistics.

The e-commerce engine is also fully integrated with Royal Mail's shared-user warehousing solution, enabling businesses to outsource their entire warehousing, despatch and returns operation, paying only for the staff and space they need, when they need it.

The service launch comes at a time when many retailers have outgrown their existing systems and processes, leading to operational difficulties that are creating a barrier to growth. Research commissioned by Royal Mail reveals that:

• One in three SMEs - Small and Medium Enterprises - (31 per cent) believe problems with storing stock are limiting their capacity for growth

• One quarter (25 per cent) are frustrated with their current ordering and storage management systems

• 37 per cent still use IT systems that require manually rekeying orders

• Over half (53 per cent) of SMEs do not have a clear idea of how much their fulfilment is costing

Gary Winter, Head of Fulfilment at Royal Mail, said: "Many small to medium-sized retail businesses are outgrowing their systems and premises and this is limiting their ability to grow.

"Many smaller businesses are being held back by their existing systems and processes which eat up time and restrict their ability to expand into new sales channels. Every hour spent managing day to day operations is an hour less on business growth.

He added: "Royal Mail has developed its e-commerce software and warehousing services to free SMEs from day-to-day operations, and help them spend more time on what's really important - expanding their businesses."

The Royal Mail E-commerce Engine® was launched earlier this year to retailers with a turnover of more than £500,000 per year but, following its success, it has now been made available to smaller retailers who can access the solution through

The E-commerce Engine is one of many tools developed by Royal Mail to help businesses to grow. Royal Mail's internet-based Delivery Promise Tool, for example, is helping online retailers to make sure they offer consumers the best possible experience and reduce shopping basked abandonment.

The tool can analyse any e-retail website, monitoring the quality and availability of delivery information such as cost, time, tracking, delivery options and contact details. It produces a detailed report which includes recommendations on how each website can improve its service.