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Sortation system tailors store deliveries

Wet Seal redesigns its distribution center with flexible sortation equipment that resulted in a better profit margin and product selection for the customer demographic at individual store locations.
By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
April 13, 2012

The thought of a wet seal might not stir up images of trendy fashion items. However, the Wet Seal headquartered in Foothill Ranch, Calif., is a national apparel retailer specializing in trendy fashions and contemporary accessory items designed for young fashionistas on the cutting edge of style.

Wet Seal had been distributing merchandise to its 558 stores across 47 states in pre-packs that included six garments in predetermined sizes per pack. An alteration in the company’s distribution strategy meant moving away from pre-packs toward customized orders to suit the customer demographic in each store to ensure that appropriate merchandise goes to the appropriate store. 

“If an item stays on the store shelves too long, it gets marked down until it sells, which hurts the company’s profit margin,” explains Charlie Torok, Wet Seal’s vice president of logisitics.

So, Wet Seal exchanged a labor-intensive carton packing process with three flexible sortation units (SDI Industries, sdiindustries.com). Each machine has the capacity to present 14,400 tray opportunities per hour past a single induction point. Once product is scanned and inducted into the system by an associate, a light sensor detects product on the tray, carries it to the appropriate location, and then drops it (Bombay style) into the designated shipping carton. The system is currently handling 33,000 pieces per hour, but will increase when a planned fourth sorter is installed.
With a flexible design, the sortation system is capable of left and right serpentine curves in horizontal and vertical planes. In this DC, it meant the ability to stack induction stations of two sorters, one above the other, to increase capacity within the existing footprint.

Since installing the new sortation system, Torok says, the DC has ensured carton integrity, gone from 92% accuracy to 99.8% accuracy, and increased the company’s profit margin by saturating each store with the items it needs to satisfy its customer profile.

About the Author

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Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.


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