STL: Back Online but not Back Up to Speed

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for those of us who’ve become used to checking STL’s stock availability and ordering online: the website was taken out of commission back on Thursday October 23rd for an IT systems upgrade over the following weekend. If things had gone according to plan disruption to service would have been fairly minimal and the site would have been restored on Tuesday October 28th.

It didn’t happen. Instead, a series of notices appeared assuring us that restoration was imminent… until suddenly, this afternoon, there it was: back online! Congratulations to all concerned.

Unfortunately, however, there are still a number of bugs in the system leading to various difficulties which STL are working desperately to resolve — delays in order processing, invoicing errors and incorrect carriage charges levied, to name three that I am personally aware of — and Mark Hurley, Commercial Director, is sending out periodic updates on the situation along with apologies for any inconvenience caused:

The warehouse continues to run at full capacity, but we are aware of problems in a number of areas; for example, we have charged carriage on some backorders – this and others we are working rectify as soon as possible.

We are disappointed if we have let you down and we would like to assure you we are doing all we can to meet the service levels you require. We acknowledge that the most important thing we can do at this time is to deliver your orders promptly to your door.

(Message dated 5/11/2008)

My advice is: check your invoices carefully, contact customer services promptly as soon as you notice any discrepancies and, for the time being, order elsewhere if the products you require are available from another supplier. At the moment STL are aiming for a 48 hour order turnaround; I suspect it may be some time before we see the same-day despatch we were used to before the upgrade…

Last but not least: keep the good folk at STL in your prayers; I’m sure they’re finding things just as frustrating as we are.

6 thoughts on “STL: Back Online but not Back Up to Speed

  1. Many thanks for your prayers and support, the team here in Carlisle really appreciate them and it’s a phenomenal feeling to be in an industry which prays for each other.

    However I do not underestimate the inconvenience that has been caused to retailers as we bed down our new IT system and that what you and others are looking for are parcels delivered with the product you need. Please be assured that this focus is at the heart of the entire team in Carlisle, whether they work in IT, in Customer Services or in the Warehouse.

    As I and my colleague’s review what is happening daily we can see that we are making significant progress by the volume of boxes leaving the warehouse.

    If you have any concerns though over your order please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Services Department at

  2. Do I hold the record? I am still waiting for an order placed on Monday 3rd nov and it is now Tuesday 11th nov

  3. Hmm, Geoff – you must be one of the glitches in the system! You have my sympathies and prayers that your customers are more patient than most!

    Must admit that I am only awaiting a box from friday – oh and a credit note for all the current Select Promo stuff I had ordered
    *(well as much of it as seems to be available – has anyone else noticed how much of the select promo stuff seems to be unavailable before the promo even starts? I have a number of upset customers on this front who have wanted a number of items just for me to have to tell them there are no stocks and this was on the first official day of the promo – makes me look bad and in turn Select ~therefore STL~ look bad and I am not sure where that all sits with new legislations etc??)*
    and that was recieved in the day the systems went off line, and was charged at full price for- that took me ringing for 3 days after the original date given for recontacting them.

    I found that just being put on auto hold continually was a tad annoying and that was on all the lines including the order line! it wasn’t until I left a particularly pointed voicemail about if you say you will phone people back then please do, that I was finally contacted back by Paul who was lovely and very apologetic and obviously feeling a tad stressed – I did apologise for adding to the stress! however the credit has yet to arrive but rather that than missing orders!

    This really would seem to have been a bit of a shambles and my heart does go out to all the staff that must be at tears and breakdown point, it is not a fun place to be at all. I really can emote on this one as back in the SPCK day my shop and team were the beta test site for new epos software for the SPCK shops and that was a disaster initially too!
    My prayers for all the staff – and for the systems too! I kind of think it would go something like ‘Lord of Pot’s and Pan’s and things’ – maybe Lord of Wires, Circuits & Code?

    Ohh but I might be the one with the longest wait for a rep visit as I still haven’t had one since I went official in February as my rep has had to cancel a few times since the last time I mentioned no rep visiting on this blog. To be honest it’s probably not that important as I can order from the Bulletin and other advance catalogues and Bertrams & Gardners give me better discount levels as standard anyway and I have an account with Ingrams in the US, but then I am lucky because I am a general bookshop as well so have these, other new starts probably wouldn’t!

    To be fair STL are not the only ones that haven’t visited, I still have yet to be contacted by the CPR rep for my area, despite a few discussions with Mr Mordue who has said that I will be visited a fair few times now since Feb, and STL have the up on this one as at least I get Bulletin from them – though SPCK give me a decent level of support when I order from them, they don’t send any AI’s out to me, but then Bertrams, Gardners and STL do, so at least I shouldn’t miss anything too important! However all the other companies rep’d by CPR, well lets hope they are covered by me spotting them in the various buyers notes!
    It puts a new spin on the publishers moaning about sales, buying stats and not being supported really – how do they know and who do they blame when the sales aren’t showing because the orders are all going through the big wholesalers, or books aren’t ordered because the info isn’t passed on to the shops to enable them to make the pre-orders and advance buying decisions??
    Again let me point out I have 14 years experience in Christian Bookselling and own an independent general bookshop, so I have knowledge and resources many new starts don’t, if my experiences are the norm or a general trend then it’s something the trade needs to be looking at, and some a lot more than others!!

    I think Lincoln maybe is too far from anywhere else on the road calls?
    or perhaps after all it is just because, as another Christian Rep (from one of the headline Christian publishers) told me today whilst standing in my shop ~that just happens to be in a market hall!~,
    it’s a shame Lincoln hasn’t got a Christian Bookshop anymore!
    That did kind of make me wonder why he was there then!
    I pointed out what he had said I considered offensive as Lincoln did and does have a Christian Bookshop thank you and duly led him over to the nicely appointed Christian Section that he hadn’t actaully been and looked at until that point and demonstrated that there was a full and comprehensive Christian Bookshop in Lincoln, and although compact in size it is widely stocked and represented and we don’t need much space as we do judicious ordering on a semi-daily basis of what sells and what will sell.
    I also pointed out that with most places – though currently some exceptions exist! – offering 24-48 hour delivery this makes small works just fine thanks!
    I also pointed out that there has not been a day when there hasn’t been a Christian Bookshop in Lincoln since the late 1940’s. Advance Bookshop
    *(which by the way started out in the same market I now inhabit! I know this to be true and factual as Tim who owned Advance before it’s demise had told me so, and this was confirmed by the Daughter of the people that founded Advance Bookshop as she now uses my shop, as does her daughter, and they always express their delight in us being right where it started!)*
    and the SPCK opened within 18 months of each other, and sadly closed down within 18 months of each other, – Unicorn Tree Books was already carrying a small range of religious books before SPCK/SSG closed down as Tim from Advance had spoken to me before he closed and I was catering to some of his customers whose churchmanship was such as SPCK did not suit them(!) and then later on even before SPCK/SSG closed I was having to stock Communion Wafers and other such items due to strange bannings on purchases by the then leaders of SPCK/SSG, thats why when the staff were so reprehensibly treated I already had the account with STL etc up and running and some stocks in, so there was no gap in Lincoln – its just I beefed up the selection, gave it it’s own entire unit, and didn’t have to worry about competing with my old staff and risking their livelihoods in anyway, indeed one of those staff still works for me Part-time!

    So I guess if my being in a Market Hall makes me not real or non-existent (though to some I am a skin horse!) well I can carry on without seeing the reps, after all that leaves me more time for serving the customers!
    However I do enjoy seeing the reps and others that do come or phone me very regularly, and if any others want to come they are more than welcome, particularly if they can check the bias and engage the brain as they walk through the door to the Market Hall. Otherwise don’t worry too much, Bertrams and Gardners amongst others ~and soon once again STL we hope, especially for Geoff~ have a good speed of service these days, and some of them even do marginally better discounts than you might expect to get or do get from seeing a rep! That’s worth considering these days.

    Ok sorry for hi-jacking Geoff’s real issue! Phil – feel free to cull this rant as needed or if you want, and if not (or even if so!) thanks for giving me somewhere to release the tension and share in the first place.

  4. Phil,
    I foolishly put these two statements in >< the type of bracket that makes then invisible in wordpress as it reads them as HTML Code! So I am adding them here with the shape of brackets suitably changed! lol.
    Peeps learn from the mistakes of those who should have known better like me!

    this one is in the longest wait for a rep visit!
    {grins at Tim the Rep who Mel likes and has known for what feels like forever!}

    This one is in the bit about reps visisting towards the end!
    {mel waves at Mike, Shelley, Ruth, Aude, Kevin, Rebecca and a whole batch of others too!}

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