Educators Resource, a wholesale distributor of pre-kindergarten through eighth grade learning materials and educational toys used by schools, teachers, parents and children, has strengthened its back-end operations and fulfillment infrastructure. A warehouse management system has helped the cataloger improve order processing, customer service, and supply chain and operational efficiency.
The WMS, from Cambar Solutions, enables Educators Resource to control and monitor the movement and storage of materials within its distribution center, says company president Jack Summersell. Educators distributes more than 20,000 SKUs, but carries less than a case pack of each SKU in most instances. Summersell says it wouldn’t be economically feasible for the merchant to manage such a broad, but shallow inventory profile without the Cambar WMS.
“The system also enables us to process a relatively large number of very small transactions each day, including receiving, putaway, replenishment, picking, shipping and cycle counting,” Summersell says. “The Cambar WMS gives ER the capability to batch pick, bulk pick and wave pick as necessary. Manual paper-based processes would drive operating costs up prohibitively.”
The flexible pick rules and putaway rules allow Educators Resource to strike a balance between the competing demands of space utilization and productivity, Summersell says. The marketer started using Cambar technology in December 2000; since completing the implementation, it has maintained an average picking accuracy of 99.8%.
“This keeps our customers happy and minimizes costs associated with returns and replacements,” Summersell says. Its inventory levels are at an all-time low relative to revenue, while its fill rates are at an all-time high. “All of these benefits collectively result in improved ROI and customer satisfaction.”
The WMS is a fully integrated paperless solution incorporating wireless technologies. Cambar provided Educators Resource with the necessary hardware offerings, including radio frequency technology and bar code scanning.
Cambar’s WMS also provides significant reduction in warehouse operational costs, Summersell says. For example, high receiving accuracy is a prerequisite to high picking accuracy. High levels of real-time inventory accuracy lead to efficient re-ordering. Reduced safety stock and well-conceived picking and putaway rules all work together to maximize space utilization.
What’s more, inventory accuracy reduces stock-outs, short-picks and shrinkage, he explains. Order pooling parameters allow Educators Resource to process orders with similar characteristics in groups that optimize labor management.
“The Cambar WMS eliminates waste through accuracy and efficiency in both daily operating costs and space utilization,” Summersell says.
“We need to meet or exceed service level expectations established by larger competitors, and even noncompeting larger distributors in other lines of trade,” Summersell says. Its WMS “is definitely a critical success factor to our business.”