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Warehouse efficiency

03 April 2014

Independent retailer of solid hardwood furniture, Oak Furniture Land, has experienced a 10% improvement in its warehouse management productivity, since introducing a new high-tech system across the business.

The introduction of a new, electronically-based, Snapfulfil SaaS WMS system, has also more than halved handling damage as the warehouse can now make consolidated picks, which means that product types can be grouped as they are loaded onto a lorry going to a depot.

Rapid growth in sales in the last two years means that the main warehouse at head office in Swindon now holds more stock at any one time. Oak Furniture Land was outgrowing its old paper-based system and so the new system was introduced to help to streamline processes and efficiencies. As a result, picking turnaround times have reduced significantly and stock is leaving headquarters for delivery at a faster rate.

The electronic system uses RF scanners, which means that staff can now track where an order is anywhere in the picking process. For the customer, this means that warehouse staff can also make any changes to their order much more easily, and subsequently there is much less chance of the order being delayed.

Oak Furniture Land IT director Ross Lawson said: "Just as we spend a lot of time developing other parts of the business, such as our logistics, sales and customer service, it is vital that we do the same for the management of our warehouse processes. We needed a system that was future proof and able to flex as we continue to grow at pace.

"Implementing the new system has had a dramatic impact on the way we run the warehouse and also for our warehouse staff and their working day. We are now looking ahead to phase two, where we are planning to extend the system so that customers can track their order to delivery.”

One of the additional main benefits of the system includes resource planning, as it is possible to track operatives’ collectively as they manage orders. It is then easier to identify particular areas where there may be common problems, so that changes can be made to their working day to help them work more efficiently.

In May last year, Oak Furniture Land moved to a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Swindon which includes a 300,000 square feet state-of-the-art distribution centre, equal in size to four football pitches. The facility was opened by Michael Fallon, UK Minister for Business and Energy.