Navigating The Perfect Storm
About the client
The client is an established Australian fashion retailer conglomerate with products in over 350 stores across Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore. The stores consist of standalone retail outlets and booths in larger clothing retailers.
The coronavirus pandemic was an exceptionally difficult period for any freight management company. With Australia’s eastern seaboard fluctuating in and out of lockdowns, staff shortages, supply and demand uncertainty, lengthy shipping delays, and the boom in eCommerce; retailers and logistics solutions companies required a lot of flexibility with their operations. Additionally, this situation required a transition of management systems on both the client’s and ELA’s internal side, with an incredibly limited timeframe. The retailer required a warehouse partner who was able to scale and match the growth of their business. ELA needed to simultaneously integrate a new warehouse management system and operational processes so the business could cater to larger retail clients. Usually, the implementation of a new warehouse management system would occur over a 12-18 month period whilst the clients systems remain the same. However, Elite Logistics Australia had a nine-month deadline with a simultaneous ‘go-live’ for the new warehouse management system and the client’s enterprise system. This nine-month integration was occurring from December-2020 to September-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic, whilst online sales were skyrocketing to record high levels and stores were attempting to ramp up into the peak holiday trading season with the uncertainty of lockdowns still lingering. All these variables led to an unpredictable situation that required significant flexibility.
What We Did
Elite Logistics Australia introduced a brand-new Tier 1 warehouse management system, that was fully integrated into the clients brand new enterprise system. This catered for B2C orders, B2B orders, and complete inventory management of 500,000 units across 20,000 SKUs. Customers could purchase from retailers online, with a live freight management system that allowed the stock to be picked in a warehouse and sent with a consignment number to ensure the absolute accuracy of the order. Whilst originally the retailer was operating with ELA on a B2C basis, the introduction of a new warehouse management system allowed ELA to exclusively undertake the B2B work for the retailer.
As mentioned, ELA felt it was an appropriate retail logistics solution to upgrade its internal warehouse management system to match the retail demand of the client, given the rapidly increasing projections. The new management system would be fully integrated and capable of handling much greater stock capacity, whilst also hopefully increasing lead times. However, integrating two new systems simultaneously required a lot of testing. Over 685 IT customer scenarios were completed in a test environment to iron out any mistakes or mismatched inventory.
Overall, the launch was incredibly successful from an IT perspective given the ‘perfect storm’ circumstances. Live integration occurred across multiple channels, with a 99.997% order accuracy on day 1, only 6 products were incorrectly labelled. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. We experienced operational issues during the peak times following cyber week and the lead up to Christmas, causing our pick times to be extended. We learned from these challenges and 2022 proved to be an exceptionally smooth year.
From 1st October – 31st December 2021, we picked 622,000 units. Meanwhile, for the same period in 2022, we increased volumes by 92%: 1.19m units picked, with lead times also being halved for online orders.
We learned a lot about how the new systems operated in real world, high-stress situations. Our dedicated staff worked directly with the customers and clients, ensuring that all parties understood the flow of information between systems and could determine any errors.