When going through periods of growth, or change, every business faces unique challenges. Suddenly, the old way of working doesn’t go as smoothly as it used to. Watertight processes start to let in water, leaving a couple of options on the table. Either grab the buckets and try to manage the leaks, or to plug the gaps entirely and start afresh.
Over the years, we’ve worked with a lot of companies that have experienced a wide range of diverse problems. Most of these issues were easily resolved when they had the right software in place.
The following five are real, working examples from companies that understand how valuable it can be to make strategic technological investments when scaling. They’re five relatively common problems; if any resonate with you, then it could be time to drop the bucket and work out how to stop taking on more water.
Online orders were treated like in-store purchases
Bell’s Shoes is a good success story. When the company started in 1890, the internet wasn’t even a thing. The doors to their first store opened 4 years before “the prophet of our brave new digital dysphoria” Aldous Huxley was born, 72 years before it was predicted to maybe come into existence and 100 years before the words ‘World Wide Web’ were put together.
It’s an old business. It’s seen a lot of change happen over the years. And, since opening a web store in 2007, has seen its online operation really come into its own. It went from running e-commerce from above the store to working out of a warehouse with more than 50 staff. Big changes.
And it was making some pretty costly mistakes. All because it was using the same RMS stock control system that worked in-store in the warehouse. The impact wasn’t abstract: it was unable to fulfil around 8-10% of all online orders.
But. And it’s a big but. It was used to adapting. So it changed over its systems. And everything was OK. With the right Warehouse Management System (WMS) in place, it was able to regain control over the entire inventory. The result? Order fulfilment increased to 99.2% with the remaining .8% wholly caused by marketplace delays. Read the full case study here.
Legacy inventory management systems weren’t cutting it
Fast-growing businesses need the software that they invest in to be able to grow with them. This wasn’t something that the Clothingsites Group was experiencing with its two brands, Woodhouse Clothing and Brown Bag.
The e-commerce platform that it was using just wasn’t able to keep up with increased demand. Pickers were still using paper, and invariably making mistakes. There were manual checking processes in place to prevent these mistakes, which caused slow down. Stock takes were almost impossible, storage was inefficient...the whole situation was far from ideal.
And there was! Time number 2 when stock control software saved the day. Not all heroes wear strings of hard coding, but this one does. Take that, Superman.
Working hand in glove with Magento, a WMS helped massively. Manual processes left the warehouse floor. Paper was banished; pickers started using handheld devices instead. Goods were despatched way quicker, with packing notes and courier labels automatically printed at the packing bench.
The results: the number of orders picked per person per hour increased by 50%, and stock accuracy increased to 99.84%. Read the full case study here.
Mixed pallets led to confusion
Not every business is blessed with a simple goods-in process. While some may be able to breeze through single-item pallets without a hitch, others have to contend with multiple mixed pallets. Surfdome wasn’t one of the lucky ones.
With over 80,000 SKUs, all of which were coming into the warehouse on mixed pallets, the goods-in process was taking far longer than it should have done. Every item had to be visually identified and checked against the delivery note. It was a process that wasn’t just painful, but also one that was rife with errors. People aren’t perfect, so there were a lot of miscounts.
Anthony Kiedis is right. It was a waste of time. Time that Surfdome was able to recoup when it invested in a WMS that fitted its needs; one that worked with its own existing bespoke e-commerce software and with Metapack.
Pretty quickly, oversells dropped from 20-30 a day to just 1 in every 40,000 items sold. Which is huge. Get the full picture here.
Overselling, overselling, overselling
It’s a common thread. And it used to be a big problem for family-run business Skatehut. Growing in 9 years from a small business selling Heeleys to a large firm running two stores, three warehouses and 20,000 SKUs, overselling was something that it wanted to get on top of.
Overselling meant that Skatehut had to introduce buffers for stock, just to allow for expected discrepancies. It also meant that dedicated Customer Service Advisors had to be deployed to tackle problems arising from overselling items. Costly, inefficient and, ultimately, avoidable. Customers were told that stock was there, and it wasn’t. Not exactly an ideal customer experience.
John Travolta wasn’t the only person who was confused. Introducing better stock control software helped threefold. It increased CSAT across the board; from making a number of overselling mistakes to gaining 100% stock control. It improved their staff resources; customer service agents don’t need to handle stock errors any more and pickers don’t need to have expert product knowledge. And it created a truly efficient warehouse.
No news on whether John Travolta got his skateboard in the end, but you can read the full study here.
The best stock control doesn’t have to be complicated
These are just four examples. There are many, many more. They all prove that change doesn’t have to be difficult; growth doesn’t need to be painful. If any of these stories (or any of our case studies) have resonated with you, then it might well be time for you to start thinking about flashing a signal to Stock Control Software Woman to come and save the day. Either that, or you could drop us a line.