How FootSmart Supercharged Its Distribution Operation

John Caplinger, vice president of operations for health and footcare merchant Benchmark Brands, says there wasn’t anything wrong with its distribution operation in Memphis. But Caplinger says the operation needed to be “supercharged” even though service levels were high and operating costs below average.


But the company wanted to ensure proficient performance and keep up with the rapid growth of volume and SKUs.

“We had to focus on the combined objectives of both increasing productivity to keep up with order volume, and increased capacity to stock our rapidly increasing SKU count (currently in excess of 100,000 SKUs),” Caplinger says. “We found the most urgent opportunities were in the packing, returns, and receiving areas. We also had to figure out a way to substantially increase our available number of picking locations without compromising productivity or inventory accuracy.”

Caplinger says the main priority was increasing outbound capacity, which involved a combination of process, layout and investment, primarily in the packing and shipping area.

“We completely redesigned the packing area, including an enhanced conveyor system and the introduction of automatic bagging equipment,” Caplinger says. “The automatic bagging equipment turned out to be a real home run. We are able to run nearly 50% of our outbound shipments through the baggers, with productivity running about double what conventional packers can do. An even bigger result was the reduced shipping charges and supply costs that were achieved through the use of bags.”

If you want to know more, John will be speaking on this topic at the Operations Summit in Memphis May 2-3. For more information, go to

Jim Tierney ( is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-358-4265.

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