TradePort USA has been offering reverse logistics services to retailers, manufacturers and distributors for more than a decade. Headquartered in the historic small city of Somersworth NH, this dynamic, innovative company has established an expertise in recovering and reselling consumer electronics at wholesale prices.
Each day, TradePort’s shipping and receiving departments are hustling to make sure the many packages keep moving in and out. The company also operate a storefront business in Somersworth. Well positioned to expand its partner base and set up satellite distribution centers, TradePort wanted to make sure it had the capacity to guarantee complete customer satisfaction with both vendors and buyers.
Like many other successful businesses, TradePort discovered there are always challenges riding the coattails of company growth. The leadership team recognized the symptoms of systems issues which would be more problematic as they expanded, including:
- Unexpected stockouts
- Selling items not in actual inventory
- Incomplete orders being shipped such as a TV without a remote control
- Inventory information stored mostly in employees’ heads
- Too much time taken to put together an order
- Time spent dealing with unnecessary customer complaints
- Uncertainty about current status or location of item
- Unknown on hand Inventory
- How long product has been in the warehouse (turn times)
It became clear the real problem was the lack of control over inventory coming in and moving out. Employees were not confident they knew exactly what was in stock and where it was in the process of grading, repair or refurbishing. Customer queries and complaints told them the checks and balances were not in place for filling orders.
It was obvious the issues of scalability and inventory control had to be addressed.
Dave Marino, the Director of Operations and Logistics at TradePort is clear that they “needed control of the product as it wasn’t sustainable to take on additional vendors or additional partners” when they were not sure when the product was received and where it could be found. Management was committed to resolving the issues in order to plan realistically for expansion.
IntelliTrack chose its recommendation carefully: Warehouse Management System (WMS) RF Professional, locally installed and using barcodes. This particular WMS solution could focus on TradePort’s primary need to track the work in progress. The software features standard functions such as:
- Physical inventory and cycle counts
- Shipping receiving and picking
- Barcode labeling
- Zone picking
- Batched order management
- Management queries
- Productivity reports by user or transaction
- History lookups by user or transaction
- Cross dock warnings
- Inventory Inspection and grading
- Relocating product within the warehouse
- Accessory kitting
- Flexible import utilities for inventory and orders
- Receiving Orders to allow the receiving department to see expected product (preparation)
- Ability to create custom product conditions
- Timely and knowledgeable customer support
IntelliTrack was also able to customize functions for TradePort, including:
- Inventory inspection screen able to track an item in an unknown condition through the entire QA/QC process to be made merchandisable to its final location for shipment
- Secondary inspection screen with different inspection criteria for cell phones
- Integration SQL database of WMS with Channel Advisor/ShipWorks for importing sales orders
- Automated inventory upload
- Label design with two barcodes, one with internal SKU, the other identifying supplier, product description and warehouse location
- Custom line numbered receiving orders for varying costs
- Profitability reports; ability to track performance of individual items/SKUs
- Recycling function to ensure adherence to TradePort’s “commitment to green” guarantee
- Integration SQL database of WMS with Channel Advisor/ShipWorks to create dynamic sales reporting based on vendor requirements
The initial installation of WMS included six workstations and four mobile computing devices, each with a license for inventory control and reporting. The QA stations also collect information about inspected inventory. Additional hardware included tethered scanners at each QA workstation and at the shipping station, barcode printers, mobile computers for operators receiving and picking order and a centralized server.
Typically, an IntelliTrack consultation, assessment, project development and implementation would take six to eight weeks. Testing and employee training are part of the package. However, in this case, the installation became part of the company’s warehouse expansion with the implementation of Lean principles, so the project at TradePort took approximately six months.
Even after 18 months, Dave Marino still sounds enthusiastic as he enumerates the positive outcomes from the implementation of WMS at TradePort.
The new physical and information infrastructures have allowed the company to strengthen its operations.
Overall, the company is more efficient and better organized as seen in:
- Smooth, consistent workflow
- Workforce and other resources redeployed as necessary to maintain workflow and increase productivity
- Streamlined pick, pack, ship process
- Integrated mobile computing devices and scanners so not running back and forth in warehouse
- Elimination of manual input of email files from vendors; now imported directly into WMS
WMS has proven its worth financially through its:
- Ability to access information to help prioritize inventory of high volume and high dollar value
- Ability to take advantage of new opportunities in the cell phone market
- Time saved in front line operations equals money saved
Improved relationship with customers.
TradePort is more confident in its relationship with its customers and its commitment to:
- 24 hour turnaround
- Accuracy and completeness of shipments
- Maintain its Top Seller rating on eBay with 99+% positive feedback
Improved information for inventory management.
Information is now readily available to produce accurate, complete, real time customized reports on:
- Customer orders
- Daily sales
- Daily productivity by each task
With the SQL database connected to the shipping database, it is easy to run reports for use internally and for vendors. Such flexible capacity is important at TradePort as each vendor requires a different report. Fortunately, there is a TradePort employee who is able to produce whatever reports are requested by management by using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).