Until two years ago, Moosejaw Mountaineering & Backcountry Travel, an online and brick and mortar retailer specializing in outdoor recreation apparel and gear, relied on a paper-based warehouse management system. Plans to add four additional stores to bring the number to 11 and an increasing volume of online orders spurred the move to automate the process.
“We’re a small information technology (IT) department with only four people and I knew it would be difficult to support an automated warehouse management system,” admits Earl Campbell, ERP applications project manager at the company. With no in-house data center and tight timelines to have the system in place before new stores opened and before the holiday season began, Campbell turned to a cloud vendor to provide the software and host the warehouse management solution (WMS).
In less than five months after signing an agreement, Moosejaw’s warehouse was equipped with handheld radiofrequency (RF) scanners and a fully automated system. Because the company was moving from paper to automation, one of the first steps was wiring the warehouse to provide access points for the RF scanners, he points out. “The next steps were to test the software and train employees,” he says. “Training was not a problem for us because we have a young crew so they are very comfortable working with technology.”
The most difficult lesson for employees was learning to obey the system’s direction on what to pick and when to pick it, as compared to picking items randomly, he adds. “We achieved 99 percent efficiency in picking and inventory control, even with additional stores and increasing online orders, which now account for 75 percent of all sales, says Campbell. “We also reduced labor costs because we did not have to hire as much temporary help during the holiday season, even though sales were up from previous years.”
Cloud use growing
Use of the cloud and mobile RF scanners was an easy choice for Campbell based on limited IT staff, no existing data center and the need for a quick implementation. Even organizations with existing automated systems are turning to the cloud for supply chain management for cost-effective, efficient management as organizations grow and needs become more complex.
In fact, according to information technology research and advisory company Gartner, supply chain management is the most-replaced on-premise application, with 35 percent of new Software as a Service (SaaS) solution sales in 2012. The growth of cloud-based enterprise software is expected to continue in supply chain management, growing from $7.7 billion in 2011 to a projected $11.9 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of nine percent over five years.
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– By Sheryl S. Jackson