Magazine Article | December 1, 2005

Optimize Warehouse Operations With ERP, WMS

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

When this retailer relocated to a new DC, it applied enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management system (WMS) solutions that support growth.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, December 2005

Sportsman's Warehouse, a fast-growing retailer of outdoor sporting goods, needed to overhaul its DC to support its future growth plans. With a planned expansion of 10 stores to augment its existing 30 retail outlets, Chris Utgaard, Sportsman's chief operating officer, was tasked with upgrading Sportsman's supply chain process.

At the time, Sportsman's provided merchandise for its retail stores via several manual processes from within a 40,000-square-foot warehouse. After an order was received, a secretary would key it in and print out a hard copy pick sheet. Pickers would then go around the warehouse to search for the product. "Initially, we were looking for a WMS. We were expanding too rapidly to service our distribution through our paper-based systems," states Utgaard. While investigating WMSs, Utgaard's team found that many such systems were implemented in combination with ERP systems. In March 2004, the decision to implement an ERP became the first step in Sportsman's many upgrades. Simultaneously, a decision was made to relocate to a larger, updated DC. Sportsman's turned to Q4 Logistics, a designer and implementer of supply chain solutions.

As a seller of firearms, ammunition, and other high-security products, Sportsman's Warehouse is required by the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) to track the serial number, manufacturer, and model number of such products during shipping and receiving. Q4 Logistics helped Sportsman's select the Warehouse Advantage WMS from HighJump Software, a 3M Company, as it provided the necessary product tracking capabilities.

With several concurrent projects taking place and lacking the proper in-house expertise, Sportsman's involved a number of vendors to integrate the various projects. HighJump Software focused on the WMS implementation and managed all interfaces between the ERP and the WMS. Rapidigm, an IT services company from Pittsburgh, controlled the ERP implementation, and Q4 Logistics focused on the DC upgrade. Sportsman's employees concentrated on ensuring that necessary merchandise reached all new stores, as many were opening at the time.

ERP, WMS Support DC Automation
Over a four-month period, field tests were completed and all systems were ready to go live. Next, the move to the new DC took place over one week's time, while the older facility was shut down. "We felt we would get the best results with a 'big bang' approach. Generally, the faster you execute projects, the better off you are, regardless of the time spent fine-tuning. You'll always have shortcomings after going live, but productivity jumped the first week we went live," states Utgaard.

With the new systems and the relocation to the DC, Sportsman's was able to introduce automation and zone picking in the warehouse. Sportsman's managers can access real-time data about goods as they travel through the supply chain. Operating in real time helps improve inventory accuracy. "We know from the system what we have in inventory, where it's located, who put it away, and who last touched it," says Utgaard.

Human errors such as mispicks have been eliminated. With the new DC, Sportsman's runs with increased accuracy and is able to ship products to two additional stores per day. Sportsman's anticipates continued growth to $500 million in 2005, up from $330 million last year. It successfully opened 10 new stores in 2004, with another 15 expected this year, and it is positioned well for future expansion.