Casebook 2011: Urban Outfitters’ supply chain makeover

Fashion outfitter improves productivity and collaboration with trading partners.

By ·

Supporting sales and measuring performance across 1,800 retail and specialty stores on two continents can stretch the seams of a growing business. A warehouse management system (WMS; Manhattan Associates, 770-955-7070, allowed Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters to transform its supply chain processes with a long-term solution that would support operations across all of its channels.

The improvements have translated into a 35% reduction in total labor, an 80% reduction in manifesting and invoicing processes, a 66% reduction in turn time through receiving (from three days to less than 24 hours) and a 60% rise in putaway efficiency.

With a tradition of building successful partner and customer relationships, the company selected the same provider that had successfully worked to streamline the company’s multiple systems and labor-intensive processes in 2006. This time, the company sought an expanded solution that would handle higher volumes while delivering increased process efficiency, improved supply chain visibility and more meaningful performance measures.

“The solution has demonstrated the scalability and depth of functionality required to support multi-channel operations and growth,” says Ken McKinney, executive director of logistics for Urban Outfitters.

Moving to the next level of efficiency, Urban Outfitters relocated the fulfillment and call center activities of its direct and wholesale channels to a facility in Trenton, S.C. There, the company implemented a WMS to seamlessly optimize day-to-day distribution network processes from one common interface, in real time. 

“Urban Outfitters obtained a significant return on its investment,” says McKinney. “We achieved increased productivity and supply chain visibility along with improved trading partner collaboration and product flow.”

Future transformation initiatives include plans for two additional WMS implementations in the company’s Pennsylvania and Nevada retail facilities.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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