The company’s distribution centre (DC) in Altona North, Victoria services the entire Australian and New Zealand market. Across its portfolio, Brand Collective operates in the B2C and B2B spaces, servicing online orders for the likes of Myer and THE ICONIC as well as marketplaces such as eBay, Catch and Amazon.
In 2017 Brand Collective implemented the Microlistics Enterprise Warehouse Management System (WMS) which not only had a major impact on the business at that time, it also positioned Brand Collective to respond to the massive uptick in online retail during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With eCommerce booming, so was the complexity that came with managing a larger number of orders across less lines and spread across an entire product range. Brand Collective’s current WMS was not up to the task, and the company realised that in order to capitalise on the market potential, it needed a new system that could leverage automation to increase its pick productivity, and help find further efficiencies within its operations.
The multifaceted nature of Brand Collective’s operations, and the number of different brands and customers it needed to service from one DC, was a further challenge to its current system, with the WMS at the heart of almost everything it wanted to do to improve the DC’s processes.
Brand Collective was also motivated to reduce its labour costs, with the company’s current WMS requiring a great deal of manual intervention. This was exacerbated by its poor picking efficiency for online orders, available on every product in the warehouse.
In addition, Brand Collective needed to improve the way it handled reverse logistics, after the increase in eCommerce created more returns and a new eCommerce returns policy was instituted at the company.
All these challenges pointed to the need for a more advanced WMS to improve current operations and position Brand Collective to capitalise on the growth in eCommerce.
Brand Collective invited proposals from a number of different WMS vendors for its new solution. It was an exhaustive process with Microlistics scoring the highest on a balanced scorecard of measures, and the entire Brand Collective team unanimous in the decision that Microlistics was the right provider.
Driving Brand Collective’s choice was its desire for an experienced and relatable partner in its technology journey, and it was impressed with the support that could be provided by Australian-based Microlistics. Brand Collective felt that being local would allow the Microlistics support team to really understand its business. And should any issues with the WMS arise, the Microlistics team could respond rapidly because it would know how the Brand Collective operation works and understand the market it operates in.
Microlistics’ Enterprise WMS was the specific solution chosen due to its system flexibility, ease of use and price competitiveness. The WMS uses an open, rules-based architecture that can be tailored to the most complex warehouse environments and can be configured to match and improve most operations without the need for any modifications or software development. Microlistics Enterprise WMS would allow Brand Collective to make changes on the fly, through a switch or a configuration.
Also, with Microlistics’ clients throughout the world using many varied automated picking systems including pick-to-light, automated cranes, multi-pick trolleys and warehouse robotics, Brand Collective was confident that Enterprise WMS would be able to communicate with, and control, its current and future equipment and automation.
Once a purchase order is completed on the factory floor, Brand Collective’s suppliers are able to go into the Microlistics WMS web portal. There they print the labels for that purchase order and apply it to the correct carton. When the stock arrives at Brand Collective’s DC, the receiving team can simply scan the carton and the WMS knows which SKU and the quantity of SKU in each carton. This results in more accurate shipping and faster inbound processes.
Brand Collective receives online orders constantly. The WMS allows Brand Collective to pick an individual order in one of 12 dedicated zoning areas instead of having operators moving around the entire warehouse. And the WMS generates automatic reports that can be continually refreshed throughout the day to know where the process is at in real-time.
Brand Collective has approximately 40 different tasks set up in the WMS allowing it to take less time to pick an order, but also allowing it to be agile and change workflows with the click of a button. This is essential with so many brands, and allows Brand Collective to be efficient and agile in redeploying resources accordingly, and meeting crucial delivery dates.
From its Altona DC, Brand Collective now delivers an impressive amount of eCommerce orders. Fulfilling between 2,000 to 4,000 orders per day that cover 25,000 to 35,000 units, the DC services 2,000 wholesale customers, 120 retail stores and 15 eCommerce stores. The site is home to nearly 50,000 SKUs and approximately 1.8 million units.
This performance was amplified during the Covid-19 crisis with significant growth across its online retail orders, particularly when all the retail stores started to close down at the end of March 2020. The challenge at the beginning of the pandemic was ensuring Brand Collective had the right amount of resources in the right place at the right time. Its Microlistics WMS ensured the company fulfilled orders in 24 hours, and there were no issues meeting the increased demand.
Getting information out of the previous WMS was difficult and time-consuming, but with the Microlistics WMS, Brand Collective can not only monitor the business in real time, but also inform ideas around how it can improve efficiency and labour productivity more generally.
The Microlistics Enterprise WMS offers advanced omni-channel capabilities around picking eCommerce orders efficiently, along with store replenishment and B2B wholesale orders accurately, pack the right carton or parcel to right order and seamlessly manage shipments to carriers. All while integrating with existing systems for inventory, order management, accounting and online storefronts.
Another benefit that Brand Collective has been able to realise through the Microlistics WMS is the amount of data and reporting that the business has access to, giving it the ability to extract more data than it previously could, and gaining valuable business intelligence to improve efficiency, labour productivity and reporting capability.
Zoning the warehouse with the Microlistics WMS has offered the company significant efficiency gains in picking rates and putting away of stock.
During Covid-19, many consumers had no choice but to switch to online shopping and for many, this was their first experience of online purchasing. This sped up the already impressive uptake of online shopping in Australia which is predicted to continue, and Brand Collective is already reaping the benefits of investing in a sophisticated and advanced WMS to meet the increase in demand.
Looking forward, Microlistics is working closely with the Brand Collective team to introduce them to a number of technology partners so that the company’s needs for automation and other complex technologies are met. Brand Collective is constantly looking at ways to innovate with Microlistics, viewing Microlistics as more than a vendor – considering it a trusted partner.
Thanks largely to Microlistics WMS, Brand Collective now has a DC that can respond to unforeseen events in the future, and ride the wave in online retailing.