New warehouse management system leaves cosmetics firm sitting pretty

KeepMe WMS case studyThe introduction of Realtime Despatch’s OrderFlow warehouse management system (WMS) has allowed KeepMe to optimise its hybrid B2B and B2C fulfilment operation, improving the business’ control of its inventory and speeding up the processing of orders.

 

KeepMe is a manufacturer and distributor of cosmetic products and merchandise, with offices in the UK and China. Offering a complete service from design through to delivery, the company works with international clients on a wide range of beauty products from fragrances and cosmetics through to accessories, skincare products and promotional packs.

As the company grew, more of KeepMe’s clients were turning to the company for their distribution. The company soon found that it had outgrown its existing warehouse distribution system and needed something that could be tailored to its needs and grow with the company.

B2B and B2C hybrid fulfilment

Management had noted that oversight of stock needed to be improved, it was necessary for fulfilment to be faster and more efficient, and that any new system must be capable of managing the very different requirements of B2B and B2C operations side-by-side. With this in mind, they began to look at what the latest warehouse management systems (WMS) had to offer.

Realtime Despatch was one of the WMS providers that KeepMe shortlisted, in part thanks to its competitive pricing structure and B2C experience, but also because of the OrderFlow WMS’ flexibility.

“Realtime Despatch and its OrderFlow warehouse management system seemed the best fit for us,” says Steve Anderson, Commercial Director at KeepMe. “OrderFlow’s B2C features looked great, but the team was also happy to work with us to modify the WMS in order to facilitate our B2B operations.”

Separate B2B and B2C picking operations

Realtime Despatch worked closely with KeepMe to design and customise processes that would work for all its operations. A key part of the solution was allowing for separate optimised B2B and B2C picking operations.

OrderFlow was configured to ensure that picks for B2B and B2C orders were optimised to suit their different profiles. In addition, the team set up replenishment processes – one from overhead racking locations to B2B picking locations in the warehouse, and another from the main warehouse to the B2C fulfilment area.

Realtime Despatch also introduced handheld picking to the B2C fulfilment area as well as ‘kitting’, which allowed KeepMe to create promotional kits made up of individual products.

Changing warehouse management systems

The first of KeepMe’s clients to move over to the new WMS was Rodial. Integration and reporting were key parts of the process, and the team set up the move in a way that allowed for seamless continuity of operations and required no changes to be made on the Rodial side of the integration.

“We went through a structured process to prepare for the go live, starting with detailed requirements gathering, followed by build, test and implementation phases,” says Phil Zoio, Realtime Despatch Director and CTO.

 

“The switch to OrderFlow has allowed KeepMe to become dramatically faster and more efficient in both its B2B and B2C fulfilment operations, while gaining full control of inventory throughout all of its warehouse processes. The pack and despatch operation is now much more streamlined and robust.”

 

Improved inventory management

Prior to working with Realtime Despatch, KeepMe didn’t have product locations on its system, which made picking quite laborious. So the first thing that needed to be done was a full warehouse inventory.

“It was a real effort, but worth it,” says Steve. “The Realtime Despatch team then made a lot of changes to their system to incorporate our hybrid fulfilment needs. Over a two-month period we went from not knowing where anything was in our warehouse to being in a position where we could tell you quickly what we had, how much we had and where it could be found. This dramatically improved our efficiency.”

Rodial went live on OrderFlow in October 2018 and since then KeepMe has moved a further two clients across to the new WMS – with more planned soon.

An optimised hybrid fulfilment operation

Thanks to OrderFlow and the Realtime Despatch team, Steve has found KeepMe’s hybrid fulfilment and distribution processes “much slicker”.

“Prior to OrderFlow you had to almost be a ‘brand specialist’ to find orders, so you’d know what to look for. The locations of products in the warehouse were really hit and miss! God forbid is someone was off ill – we’d really have problems,” Steve says. “Now the system is so easy, especially thanks to the introduction of barcodes and handheld picking,” he enthuses. “Now we can take on temporary staff and train them in just five minutes.

“Promotional pack kitting is also so much quicker now, which is great for peak times like Christmas when clients want us to package up gift sets,” he continues. “Every time we want to do a promotional pack we just set it up on the system and it tells the pickers what they need to get and pack.”

Tangible benefits

 The business has seen several tangible benefits to implementing OrderFlow, as Steve highlights.

“We now clear all orders by close of play 80% of the time – and that 20% exception is only during the ‘mega sales periods’. We’ve also been able to free up staff to work on other activities and mispicks have been reduced to zero thanks to the introduction of barcode technology,” he says.

“The switch to OrderFlow has enabled KeepMe’s hybrid fulfilment operations to become dramatically faster and more efficient, all while gaining full control of inventory throughout all of its warehouse processes. The pack and despatch operation is now much more streamlined and robust,” adds Phil.

“It’s been a pleasure optimising Steve’s operation and we look forward to bringing more of KeepMe’s clients onboard,” he concludes.

 

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