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WMS helps bring distribution in-house amid strong growth

After cutting ties with a 3PL, retailer easily handles 50% spikes in daily order volume.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
March 01, 2013

Batteries Plus is a national franchise that specializes in helping consumers and businesses with their battery and light bulb needs. A flexible warehouse management system (WMS) helped the company bring distribution in-house to a new 100,000-square-foot facility, where it now ships 11,000 order lines a day to more than 530 stores.

Originally an all-battery retail store, the company expanded its offerings to light bulbs in 2009 to meet the growing demand for more energy-efficient products. With its strong growth, the expansion to light bulbs, and an increased need for space, the cost and complications of using a third-party logistics provider (3PL) became too great. In addition, the lack of communication between systems—such as the inability of the Batteries Plus enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to access the 3PL database—was hampering visibility across the network and creating doubts about the data’s accuracy.

The company’s new national DC outside Milwaukee, Wisc., carries 4,300 distinct items, 80% of which are picked as eaches. To accommodate this volume and diversity, the company needed a flexible WMS (Highjump, highjump.com) that would integrate smoothly with its current systems and give a reliable, accurate view of operations.

“We believe in self-help and doing things for ourselves,” says Michael Lehman, CIO, who says that Batteries Plus has unique processes and merchandise that is often subject to government regulations. “The ability to configure the WMS ourselves was a significant reason for choosing this solution.”

The company has increased its product line and has seen no dip in picking accuracy. Even when order volume jumps 50% in a day, the WMS provides the visibility to ship accurately and on time. In addition, the company can now pull data from the WMS and ERP and display the information on the same screen, providing a more complete picture of the network.

The WMS also features a collection of applications that allows them to adapt without interruptions to workflow. “I can choose an app on a Friday, pull it down over a weekend, test it and have it implemented by Tuesday, all without doing any development work,” explained Victor Lecato, WMS system analyst. “The ease and cost effectiveness of simply downloading the solution has definitely made a big, positive impact on our business.”

About the Author

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Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


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