Launched in 2001, Cox & Cox www.coxandcox.co.uk is a unique collection of practical yet beautiful homeware products, unavailable in traditional catalogues. The eclectic mix of old and new makes the site a go-to for independent-minded home owners and interior designers alike, and the company has a strong and ever-growing loyal customer base.
Having seen double digit growth year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2017, Cox & Cox took the decision to implement a new ERP system. They chose NetSuite, citing a need for a true cloud platform that could accommodate the rapid development trajectory of the business. NetSuite UK assessed the customer requirement and decided to bring in the SuiteApp, WAERlinx, to address the complex warehouse management elements of the project.
NetSuite & WAERlinx went live in August 2017 and with the holiday season just around the corner, the WMS was really going to be put to the test. Warehouse staff at Cox & Cox found the system intuitive and simple to use, and the transition was extremely smooth. Cox & Cox reported its busiest ever Christmas (2017) with an efficient, fast, accurate warehouse operation, thanks to the new solution.
David Snelson, CEO at Waer, said,
“It’s great to have such an exciting brand like Cox & Cox as a Waer customer. They have been great to deal with and we love their products just as much as they do ours! The most pleasing aspect of the project for us though was being asked directly by NetSuite EMEA to partner with them on the Cox & Cox project. Their faith in us to deliver a world class system to their customer was well placed and we are looking forward to more projects with them through 2018 and beyond as their rapid global expansion programme rolls out.”
Some of the key features of the WMS component include:
In addition, the system has been further enhanced recently, with more detailed dashboards. Now all Cox & Cox warehouse locations can display real-time data on customer orders, priority orders and critical orders by shipping method, shown here:
Status of orders that are waiting to be fulfilled, with a breakdown, in particular those orders that are categorised as ‘on backorder’ and ‘in stock – no payment’:
Aynsley Peet, E-Commerce Manager at Cox & Cox, said:
“From the outset, the team at Waer have gone beyond our expectations. WAERlinx has really delivered, and our warehouses are running smoothly and efficiently, with happier, more productive staff. We would highly recommend WAERlinx.”
All retailers, whether online or bricks and mortar, have a legal responsibility to ensure they are not selling age-restricted products to underage customers. This could be tricky to control for companies with several sales channels, as in the case with sector-disrupter, BUILT/.
BUILT/ provides customers with a choice of purchasing methods for building materials, both online and off-line with products pre-ordered and either collected at a specified time, or delivered direct to the customer.
Many of BUILT/’s products carry age restrictions, however, so whatever channel they go through, the appropriate checks need to be made.
The three channels available, are:
In the first two instances, the customer must complete an online registration, part of which involves agreeing to terms of business which include a statement that they are over the age of 18, so the responsibility lies with the purchasing organisation.
Products ordered for warehouse pick-up, however, are treated a little differently, and this needed to be reflected in the way WAERlinx managed these orders. WAERlinx’ in-built flexibility meant that our development team could easily add a simple indicator so that items with an age-restriction are marked as such in WAERlinx.
When these are presented for collection, a flag simply indicates that the staff member needs to check the customer’s ID. A message appears within the despatch screen with the words “Have you checked the age of the customer? Products XYZ have restrictions.”
Selecting Yes or No is then written back to NetSuite on the item Fulfilment Interface, providing a clear trail for legal compliance.
WAERlinx – leading the way in warehouse management.
CPR (Consolidated Pick Release) is WAERlinx’ Order Release system and it’s a lifeline to our customers.
In the olden days (okay, in lots of organisations still), once an order was ready for picking in the warehouse, a picking list was printed out and given to an operative to go and pick from the specified bin locations. Marked off by the operator using a pen, once completed, the list was then given back to someone in admin to mark the items off against the system.
In 2018 with increasingly dynamic warehouse set ups, having an accurate, real time inventory record is imperative to the entire operation; it’s an understatement to say that the paper system has become obsolete – it is just not quick enough.
For at least the last decade if not longer, WAERlinx customers have been able to assign a picking list to an operator which they access on their handheld device (more often than not, a smartphone these days).
As each item is picked, even if it is in a different bin to the one expected, the inventory is updated in real time in WAERlinx and therefore also NetSuite.
With clear advantages:
Not all WAERlinx customers use this functionality, however. Some prefer to set parameters for automated picking assignment such as a maximum number of items and total weight etc. This allows them to cut out the step of assigning orders, speeding up their operation even further.
As always, WAERlinx is as flexible as our customers are unique.
Interfacing between NetSuite and a SuiteApp is complex, and given the large volumes of data involved, data issues can inevitably occur. When they do, they have to be identified, addressed and fixes deployed quickly, in order to avoid disruption.
At Waer, our customer operations were occasionally being slowed down by reporting formats that were in need of an overhaul, so our developers put their heads together to find a solution.
Previously, the Waer team were having to look through large amounts of data on spreadsheets via email, drilling down several layers to find the information they needed and consequently spending valuable time clearing or dealing with interface issues.
After some nifty work, the team has brought together elements that were previously on several screens, and the reporting of interface errors has been made infinitely clearer and more manageable:
“With any NetSuite SuiteApp, there is an element of managing the integration between the App and NetSuite and we wanted to make this as simple as possible for our customers. This is a win-win situation, as customers can easily resolve any data-integration issues without having to rely on intervention from the Waer Systems support team.”
Dave Roberts, Waer Systems Technical Director
Did you know that at the time of writing, WAERlinx WMS for NetSuite integrates to over 30 couriers worldwide:
NetDespatch APC, NetDespatch Royal Mail, NetDespatch Royal Mail International, NetDespatch UK Mail, NetDespatch Yodel, NetDespatch Yodel International, 13Ten, GFS DPD, GFS Hermes, GFS Yodel, GFS Royal Mail, GFS Royal Mail No Signature, GFS Nightfreight One Man Home, GFS Nightfreight One Man Store, GFS Nightfreight Two Man, TNT, TNT International, Whistl, Fedex, UPS, BlueGrace, Secured Mail, Parcel Perfect, Temando, Hermes, DPD, Direct Link, Metapack, Globegistics, Stamps, GSO (Golden State).
WAERlinx – as flexible as our customers are unique.
VHA supplies mobile phones and accessories to retail businesses across the United States. They are currently operating out of four warehouse locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Diamond Bar and Houston.
VHA has been operating since 2001 and has enjoyed huge growth in the last few years. They were searching for a WMS that could bring their four warehouses in line, using the Houston warehouse as the template, and integrate to their NetSuite ERP.
Each warehouse has an area where customers can come and collect orders raised in advance. This business is referred to as Will Call inside VHA and as a middle-ground between the warehouse and a shopfront, it required the development of additional real-time interfaces in WAERlinx. Will Call makes up a small but significant proportion of the processed orders, however, most are sent out via a carrier.
This was the first project involving Waer partner and NetSuite Solution Provider, Concentrus and has provided a platform for partnership in the US, with Concentrus offering local time-zone support for US based WAERlinx users.
In addition to the standard WAERlinx solution, additional unique developments for the project included:
“It was WAERlinx’ flexibility and the productivity metrics developed for us that made VHA decide that this was the absolute best product for the project. We look forward to a long and strong relationship with Waer Systems.” Darryl Wooten, Director of Operations, VHA.
There is often a great deal of reluctance about moving from a DIY (do-it-yourself) warehouse management system (WMS) to an industry-leading model. Companies with a DIY WMS may be understandably wary of implementing a new system – as the saying goes, “if it aint broke….” but there are clear and measurable advantages to taking that leap.
The three most common barriers to making the switch
“I know my WMS requires a lot of IT time to maintain and it may not always be up-to-date, but it has grown and been adapted as our business has expanded and it works.”
A 21st century WMS is highly configurable to specific customer needs, market demands and regulatory requirements. Every company is different and a really good WMS developer will understand which elements of your business processes can’t, or needn’t be changed, and those which can – and should.
Good warehouse management software will have been built on decades of experience and hundreds of implementations in receiving, put-away/flow-through, inventory management, order processing, replenishment, picking, packing, loading and shipping.
It should be able to manage the most highly regulated and complex distribution environments world-wide and be easily configurable to meet current demands, yet flexible enough to adapt to future requirements.
Personalised workflows should be standard, enabling the WMS to meet your company’s specific needs. A good WMS developer will work with you to understand the years you’ve spent developing and tweaking your business processes to your competitive advantage.
“Our ERP System already has a WMS that can support our business needs.”
Many ERP systems have their own bolt-on WMS and while this type of system may be fine for a single warehouse with basic processes, the wheels can come off when things start to get more complex.
A best-of-breed model should easily integrate with your ERP system, sales channels and distribution networks and should have the capacity to be configured to the level of detail needed to grow with your business.
“I have a team and system built around maintaining and upgrading our WMS. It will be too costly to implement a new system and re-train everyone.”
The ease of using a leading WMS will reduce your IT staff time, including the time spent on upgrades. While a DIY WMS may require hours of additional coding when an upgrade is installed, a leading WMS will have been designed to be upgraded quickly and painlessly and with minimal disruption. Additionally, the inner workings of DIY systems are often tied up in a few, critical resources in IT, leaving many companies very vulnerable should these resources ever leave.
With a best-of-breed WMS, you get the backing of a software provider that is dedicated to making the best product in the market.
It may also be costing you more to keep an obsolete WMS that requires you to maintain older versions of related infrastructure such as databases and operating systems. With a WMS that can integrate with these other systems, the entire warehouse operation can become more efficient almost overnight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While your DIY WMS system can serve the needs of your company today, flexibility, efficiency, scalability and adaptability are essential business requirements in our new economy and are to be overlooked at your peril.
You can keep tweaking your DIY WMS as your company grows and expands into new markets but every inefficiency will mount up and cost you in the long-run.
A highly configurable, future-proof WMS will save you money and time, and keep you ahead of the competition.
WAERlinx uses barcodes to record receipted goods into specific stock locations, , making putaway quick and simple.
It also makes retrieving them when they are needed, a doddle, as staff can locate them instantly at a later date for picking and despatch.
WAERlinx customers use many and varied tracking methods, most commonly serial and batch numbers. With WAERlinx these can be recorded at the point of receipt or at the point of picking, against a specific sales order.
This enables warehouse staff to quickly pick products in specified quantities from the most suitable location in the warehouse e.g. where there is the exact quantity required in a specific single bin, and these can be scanned individually or in bulk.
All stock quantities are visible in real time in WAERlinx and NetSuite giving the whole business an accurate picture of the business at any time.
The ways builders buy their building materials is about to change… BUILT/ is an exciting new business venture (in partnership with a leading industry player) that will pioneer significant changes in the building materials industry. Currently, the building supplies sector for trade has a very traditional, relationship-based approach to commerce, with pricing for building supplies negotiated from customer to customer.
Those same customers, while very familiar with today’s on-demand economy in their private lives, are not seeing it reflected in their business life. While the three issues of range, price and proximity are as important as ever, there is also a craving for consistency and transparency, which the traditional model cannot easily deliver against.
BUILT/ will bring the building supplies industry in line with other, forward-thinking retail sectors, providing customers with a choice of purchasing methods for the building materials they need, both online and off-line.
In short, customers will have the option to buy online for collection at a dedicated place and time, or arrange delivery to an address or a locker. They can also walk in and make their purchase at their local warehouse shop-front, or use the quick and convenient drive thru for orders made online. Such a wide, and easy to use range of choices will cement BUILT/ as the number one choice for the professional trade.
The complex requirements of this project called for an extremely robust and forward-thinking ERP and WMS combination. The team at BUILT/ considered several options before settling on the combination of NetSuite with WAERlinx; clear winners in terms of their functionality and flexibility.
A typical BUILT/ customer will be a process tradesperson or general builder. They will place an order for building materials in advance and book a time slot to collect them. If they have added their vehicle registration number during the ordering process (where prompted) their licence plate will be registered upon arrival and signs will direct them to the BUILT/ Drive Thru, where BUILT/ operatives will be ready at assigned collection points to load the different materials being purchased. Each site will be divided into a number of zones based on the type of material being stored.
Additionally, BUILT/ will ship building materials to customers at their chosen delivery address, or to collection lockers using their own vehicle fleet as couriers. The WAERpod proof of delivery app will be used with drivers’ iPhones to record delivery, keep customers informed of their order status and plan efficient routes, all of which will be tracked and recorded back to NetSuite.
“We were really impressed with the flexibility of WAERlinx and the experience and knowledge within their development team. We are extremely confident that we have made the right choice and that WAERlinx will be instrumental in making this project a huge success.”
Nick Thomas, BUILT/ CEO
BUILT/ has a complex and challenging set of requirements, however, WAERlinx’s built-in flexibility makes it easy to modify to the solution in order to tailor it to the needs of the project, some of which are outlined here:
The project is scheduled to go live in August 2017 and will challenge traditional thinking in this market. We are very excited to be working with BUILT/ on this brand new proof of concept.
With its incremental scanning functionality, using just a smartphone as a bar code scanner, WAERlinx WMS for NetSuite can validate each item picked for either sales orders or receipted into stock against purchase orders.
Scanning the product code quickly and automatically records and tracks each individual item on a job list. You can also print a dispatch note and detailed carton label at the point of completion using batch number, serial number, use-by date or any other unique reference code.
These are automatically recorded, eliminating picking errors, and the data recorded in NetSuite in real time.
WAERlinx significantly improves the receipt, picking and dispatch of orders by removing the paper element of warehouse processes. Using bar code labelling and smartphones with real-time integration into NetSuite provides 100% stock accuracy.
Profitability and performance are improved by efficient pick-management, ensuring warehouse staff are working smarter, not harder.