Voice Picking Kicks Off Fulfillment Overhaul
August 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Bob Johns, associate editor
Rapid store expansion prompts The Container Store to implement DC changes that boost productivity nearly 15%.
The Container Store has a unique distribution system — the entire operation is under one roof. Of course, that roof covers over 1 million square feet and includes operations, logistics, marketing, finance, and the DC. Christy Parra, The Container Store’s director of logistics systems, pointed out that this gives the company the ability to really monitor the entire supply chain at the ground level. “Everything that goes through our company, whether it be to the store or directly to the customer, goes through here,” Parra says.
The Container Store has grown from a small, 1,600-square-foot store in Dallas in 1978, to nearly 60 locations featuring more than 10,000 products in stores that average 20,000+ square feet. In 2012, The Container Store was looking to open six stores in less than six months. In order to accomplish this without a huge labor increase in the DC, the entire picking process needed to improve. At the DC, each employee was equipped with a wireless handheld scanner. “The process was tedious,” Parra explained. “The device would show on its screen where the next pick was, and the employee would have to scan the location when they got there. They would then scan the product, physically enter the number picked, and scan the pallet that the product was added to.”