With a reputation across the globe as one of the best apparel brands, our customer opened their first outlet in Beijing in 2005 and now has more than 3,600 stores in China. In 2010, they officially adopted e-commerce and became the most popular men’s shoe brand on Taobao in just six months. That was just a start for their successful transition to e-commerce.
During Singles Day, an annual shopping festival, they experience tremendous growth in sales. Daily processed orders generally reached 1,500 a day, and up to 3,000 orders per day during peak periods. Compared to previous years, the brand saw an increase of over 700,000 orders on Singles Day. This short-term increase in the volume of sales activity caused their warehouse to become overwhelmed and resulted in it taking more than a week to deliver all of the orders.
This was when our customer saw the need to be better prepared for the future, with the goal to provide a better customer experience and timelier deliveries.
To prepare for the massive increase in sales and deliveries on Singles Day, our customer set up four extra warehouses to streamline deliveries and avoid delayed shipments. It also introduced Honeywell Logistics Solutions Warehouse Management System (HLS WMS) to their operations to ensure efficiency.
HLS WMS was successfully deployed into their warehouses in August 2013. Following the launch, we conducted WMS performance inspections and adjustments, order interface testing and optimisation, and pressures tests while formulating strategies for Singles Day and rehearsing for it. We also provided on-site support for our customer, which included HLS WMS monitoring and interface platform tracking, on-site instructions and assistance, and emergency handling.
One of the main strategies recommended by HLS WMS to the warehouse was the Wave picking method, which is designed to pick goods for multiple orders, thus enhancing efficiency and preventing staff from walking back and forth. This picking method optimised the efficiency of subsequent picking operations.
Due to the large number and variety of products, our customer required multiple picking strategies to maximise efficiency. The first method was sorting while picking (shoes-shoes orders and apparel-apparel orders), where every picking cart with cartons carried multiple orders, and each carton represents one order. Labels were assigned to different orders during picking.
Then there was also wave picking for put walls (shoes-apparel orders), where shoes and apparels are picked using the wave method and sent to the put wall. On the put wall, each case/slot represents an order, then, corresponding labels are allocated to different orders.
As for single products orders, when orders reached the amount of a whole box, a wave is generated. Whole boxes are picked and then sorted for each order. When the order pool is large enough, the effect of wave optimisation and regional path optimisation is clearer.
Finally, when it came to the review and packing stage, quality inspection worked in an assembly line operation: review, packing, labelling, and bundling. After reviewing and packing is done, packages are then weighed and handed over to the transportation and delivery team.
During the lead up to Singles Day, more than 1,000 temporary workers were hired and trained. They constantly increased their operating efficiency while following standardised and rigorous procedures introduced and recommend by HLS WMS.
With the support of HLS WMS, our customer was able to ship all orders (which reached over a million orders) placed on Singles Day within 5 days, rather than over a week as was the case in previous years.