As long-standing users of SAP, they knew that tackling the mobile user experience was a critical success factor of this project. Failing to significantly reduce the time per order pick and associated operating cost would not result in a profitable ecommerce business. Three focus areas were identified to achieve Hallmark's ecommerce goals:
Hallmark was seeing threats to their market share, with competition coming from both established and new entrants to the greeting card sector, offering a wider choice of product ordering and delivery flexibility.
Hallmark understood they needed to evolve their own product and service offering to align with their customers' changing needs. The way retail customers wanted to buy meant they didn’t want to be constrained by the traditional wholesale retail fulfilment model that had dominated the larger customer accounts. Smaller customers and ecommerce channels wanted to be able to place smaller orders more regularly. This change presented a significant impact for Hallmark, with order lines shifting from cases or even pallet quantities, to as little as individual cards.
The UK warehouse in Brighouse, Yorkshire, had traditionally served large volume wholesale demand, and as such had a layout, processes and operational technology optimised for this purpose. It was not able to support the new services, such as single item picking, for their customers efficiently or cost-effectively.
With ecommerce demand growing year-on-year, Hallmark decided to invest in the necessary supply chain changes to meet their customers' evolving needs by providing flexibility on order quantities and delivery options, and firmly establishing a strong ecommerce fulfilment capability for the future.
To establish their ecommerce fulfilment capability and provide the new services efficiently and cost-effectively, Hallmark engaged their supply chain expertise partner Rocket to design and implement a new warehouse layout, operational procedure and supporting warehouse management system processes and mobile technology.
Achieving high order picking efficiency was a critical success factor. A dedicated single picking area in the warehouse was introduced with supporting replenishment, pick wave planning and optimised ecommerce picking tours configured in the Hallmark WMS, SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM). Picking was carefully designed to minimise operator travel distances and times, with pick-faces only visited once per pick wave for a given operator. Similarly, the replenishment of the picking area was optimised with minimised travel times achieved through bulk placement strategies.
Mobile devices were specifically selected to give the warehouse operator the best possible experience and allow fast, error-free picking with the type of product being handled and design picking process. The Honeywell Dolphin 75e was deployed in a wearable configuration with a touchscreen, worn on the operator's forearm, combined with a wrist-mounted scanner. This combination allowed for optimal product handling and fast interaction with the SAP EWM system.
With the high use of agency warehouse staff in peak periods, the picking process had to not only be efficient. The mobile solution was designed and built to be intuitive and easy to learn to keep on-boarding and training times fast.
Using Rocket Mobile, the SAP Mobile user experience was streamlined to provide clear intuitive screens with optimised interaction through touch screen and barcode scanning. Data entry and screen flow were simplified with the removal of redundant data and keystrokes that were non-beneficial. Scanning was rationalised without any impact on accuracy or quality.
As with many businesses, Hallmark has a highly seasonal demand profile for many of its product ranges, meaning fast, slow and non-movers would change significantly throughout the year. This had to be addressed to ensure the single picking area could be managed and picking efficiency could be maintained throughout the year. Rocket introduced the use of dynamic pick faces and process to allow reorganisation of product to maintain optimal use of space and sustain high pick rates.
The co-existence of the new ecommerce processes and the existing wholesale business was critical. This was achieved with carefully designed warehouse routing and work allocation, ensuring servicing the legacy wholesale business was not put at risk as the new ecommerce business was added.
Business outcomes in efficiencies % compared to what was achieved previously.
"Engaging with Rocket is a pleasure and they’re always quick to respond to any needs we may have. Their team take the time to ensure they understand not just technical details but also the business requirements behind the change and, applying their extensive EWM knowledge, this has often driven a solution exceeding our expectations.” Pete Groves, Hallmark Cards UK
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