Rural Retail Leader Optimizes Its Warehouses in Weeks and Reduces Labor $780k
Fortune 300 retailer
2k+ stores across the U.S. and e-commerce channel
9 D.C.s, 200k units/day, 70 outbound associates/shift
Manhattan Associates WMS and LMS
“I can’t do my job as well without the new visibility and ease of managing labor CognitOps provides.”
– Replenishment Supervisor, Rural Retailer
First warehouse live in 2 months, additional warehouses in 2-3 weeks.
44% improvement in overall throughput.
$780,000 in labor savings across all nine warehouses.
Future: network-wide central reporting with Benchmark.
“We are helping achieve better prioritization and utilization, but more than that, we’re helping them see where the opportunity is,”
– Josh Thomas, Sr Customer Success Manager, CognitOps
This established omni-channel retailer caters to the rural lifestyle in the U.S. It provides a range of products for home improvement, agriculture, and lawn and garden maintenance to meet the unique needs of farmers, tradespeople, and rural homeowners. Its omni-channel retail distribution network comprises more than 2,000 stores across the U.S.
Recently, its investments in e-commerce, mobile app, curbside, and next-day delivery kept its sales growing despite the pandemic’s effect on in-person shopping. The retailer’s drive for continuous improvement put pressure on its nine-distribution center network to keep up with the accelerating pace.
The operations team sought a solution to optimize its complex retail and online sales fulfillment to reduce labor costs while meeting delivery SLAs.
Challenge: Complex Retail Distribution Operation Lacked Visibility
- Excel and SCI reports were used to run the operations; manual updates were taking supervisor time and slowing the operation.
- Complex retail and e-commerce operations with competing priorities and lack of visibility to bottlenecks and labor needs.
The company uses Manhattan Associates WMS and Labor Management System, which tracks individual worker performance but doesn’t provide a view of holistic warehouse performance. In other words, it couldn’t ensure they had the right labor in the right place at the right time. Instead, supervisors spent significant amounts of time on Excel and SCI reports.
The company needed an automated retail warehouse operations solution to improve visibility and get the most productivity from associates across the operation.
Solution: Quickly Implement Picking Module in One Retail Warehouse, Expand to Full Network
- Implement CognitOps Align Picking module at largest, most complex distribution center.
- Quickly added Inventory and Shipping modules to amplify benefits .
- Expanded to full 9 warehouse network.
The retailer decided to start with its biggest challenge: mastering the volume and competing priorities of its largest, busiest, and most complex distribution center. This warehouse handles the retailer’s greatest volume of e-commerce sales in combination with store fulfillment. The ability to manage shared labor across channels to get the most efficiency from a combined distribution center is critical. Solving this would CognitOps Align would pave the way for expansion across the network.
Results: Improved Retail Distribution KPIs
- First warehouse live in 2 months, additional warehouses in 2-3 weeks.
- 44% improvement in overall throughput.
- $780,000 in labor savings across all nine warehouses.
- Future: network-wide central reporting with Benchmark.
Implementing the Picking module at the first warehouse took only about two months using streamlined data connections for CognitOps’ industry-leading SaaS solution. After that, the inventory and shipping modules were activated in weeks. Picking was then extended to the eight remaining sites in the network with a two week average turnaround for each retail warehouse site. The implementation timeline for site two and beyond is minimal because CognitOps could leverage its work on WMS connectivity and query creation from the initial site, only modifying it as needed for the new sites.
Since implementing CognitOps, the retailer has seen a 44% improvement in overall throughput and a $780,000 savings in labor costs.
“We are helping achieve better prioritization and utilization, but more than that, we’re helping them see where the opportunity is,” explained Josh Thomas, Sr Customer Success Manager, CognitOps.
Next on the roadmap are a daily Performance Pulse metric to help warehouse managers address labor productivity and utilization issues and a new Benchmark reporting dashboard that gives executives consistent, accurate, network-wide visibility. Both were influenced by feedback from the warehouse floor to the director level.
The company’s operations director supported CognitOps from the initial selection, partly due to its nature as a startup. He wanted the retailer to have a voice in the direction of the solution and build a true innovation partnership.
“He’s a visionary – not just in understanding what the solution was capable of at the beginning, but also what it could be. He knew that the data we were collecting and the models we were building could enable an enterprise-wide central reporting and operations management tool for them. The collaboration has only improved our solution – for this customer and our entire customer base.”