OrderFlow Takes 3PL Nexus Network’s Warehouse Management to New Heights:Nexus Network

Realtime Despatch’s WMS expertise was just the ticket when the opportunity arose for Nexus to expand their courier delivery business into the provision of a full distribution service for South African Breweries.

Businesses that grow quickly need IT business partners who really understand what they do so they can deliver reliable technical solutions swiftly when required. Nexus Network found that Realtime Despatch’s WMS expertise was just what they needed when the opportunity arose to expand and diversify their e-fulfilment business into the provision of a 3PL service for a significant customer, South African Breweries.

About Nexus Network

Nexus Network started in 2007 as a distribution service for loyalty and incentive programmes in South Africa and has since then delivered over 2.2 million awards and rewards across the country.

With a warehouse and distribution network in place, and at the point when the South African e-commerce market was expanding rapidly, Nexus Network seized the opportunity and developed a full service e-fulfilment enterprise.

An expanding customer base, extensive geographical coverage and growing staff numbers made the need for an effective Warehouse Management System increasingly acute. In mid-2016 MD Greg Kruger commenced the search for a system provider that could support its current and future activities. At the top of the shopping list were four key items, namely that the supplier be able to offer a world-class WMS; Software-as-a-Service (SaaS); an e-commerce specialism; and the flexibility to meet future business needs, including possible diversification.

It was at this point that Nexus Network began working with Realtime Despatch, introducing the SaaS version of OrderFlow at its two existing warehouses.

“The whole process went very smoothly, as we had expected, and the system quickly began to contribute to efficiencies and streamlined processes at both sites,”

Nexus Network’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Robbie Ferns.

But that isn’t where this story ends.

A New Challenge

Early in 2017, South African Breweries initiated a tendering exercise to outsource the distribution of its promotional materials. If it secured the contract to deliver this 3PL service, Nexus Network would need to guarantee timely, accurate and consistent management of the entire process from goods in, through to assembly and then despatch of marketing kits. It would also need to take over this operation seamlessly from SAB within a very short timeframe.

These kits are subject to constant variation and may contain anywhere from 2 to 15 items and need to be despatched to anything from a handful to thousands of delivery locations – no small challenge!

Reasonably enough, SAB wanted total assurance that Nexus Network’s WMS infrastructure would capable of meeting that challenge. Realtime Despatch worked closely with Nexus Networks during the tender process. Phil Zoio, Realtime Despatch Technical Director even participated in two of the pre-tender award meetings between Nexus Network and SAB to provide assurance to them that Realtime Despatch could deliver the technical solution within the timeframe required.

The result was that Nexus Network won the tender process and – just a few weeks after having done so – went live with its operations for SAB on 1 August 2017

Nexus kitting area

The client kitting area

Nexus Network took over the existing SAB warehouse as part of the transition. But when they opened the door to it on August 1 they were opening the door to a brand-new operation. “When we arrived that morning, there was a queue of people hoping to be hired, a stock-take to be done and goods to get out of the door later that week” recalls Charlie Armor from Realtime Despatch.” “It was a great week, we put the kettle on, rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in, everything followed from there.”

The Realtime Despatch team were on site for most of the first six weeks of go-live operation and had undertaken a few weeks of development work prior to that, adapting OrderFlow to run the very particular requirements of the SAB contract. This 3PL version of OrderFlow needed to capture the mix of individual promotional items arriving as goods in, group them into a variety of different promotional kits depending on the specification of each marketing campaign and then segment them into different distribution routes from the warehouse. The first kits were packed within 3 days of going live and left the warehouse 3 days after that.

OrderFlow worked absolutely accurately from the start but Nexus Network knew that, with such a new contract, there would inevitably be adjustments and additions they would wish to make once they were fully operational. “So, we were on site” says Charlie Armor, “working shoulder to shoulder with our Nexus Network colleagues, making those adjustments during the first couple of weeks of live running.”

And the great news is that, having made the investment in OrderFlow for the SAB marketing contract, “The hard work has been done” says Charlie Armor. “Nexus now have a multi-client 3PL module within OrderFlow and so are well-placed to expand this aspect of their business.”

For their part, the Nexus Network team is in no doubt about the value of their collaboration with Realtime Despatch

“Having Realtime Despatch personnel come to South Africa and work on-site throughout the process was really advantageous and meant that changes could be discussed and agreed upon extremely rapidly.  I really rate the professionalism of their team and their ability to bring together expertise from both operational and technical perspectives. They offer a great service.”