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Home Décor Giant Powers Up E-Commerce With Help From Open Sky Group

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Home Décor Giant Powers Up E-Commerce With Help From Open Sky Group

November 1, 2022

The Challenge

When a privately owned, international housewares, furniture, and home accessories company, operating more than 100 stores in the U.S. and Canada, decided to dedicate its 600K square-foot distribution center (DC) in the Midwest to ship an expected 75K packages a day direct-to-consumers, they leveraged the Blue Yonder (BY) expertise of Open Sky Group to get the job done and modernize e-commerce.

The company was already using Blue Yonder WMS to manage activities at the location, but its 2013 version of the software had outgrown its useful life. Further, the system was not designed to accommodate direct-to-consumer shipping, a few small items at a time. To meet their goal of centralizing e-commerce orders at the DC, they would have to fully automate a new facility and update the WMS for end-to-end pick, pack, and ship capabilities.

Prior to the decision, other DCs in their network handled e-commerce B2C orders ad hoc, often creating congestion and inefficiencies in the normal B2B flow of pallets and crates. Moving all their e-commerce activity to the new DC would both improve the flow of goods at the traditional DCs and establish a purpose-built, modernized e-commerce hub designed to compete with the likes of Amazon.

The Solution: Modernizing

Discussions began at the onset of the pandemic, February 2020, with team members meeting virtually to reimagine the new design for the DC.

To convert the facility into a modernized e-commerce distribution center, the solution would require a mix of automated solutions, including an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), conveyance for four-level picking, cartonization stations, a parcel management system, and slotting software. All these components would then have to be integrated with the latest Blue Yonder WMS to ensure that single item and small package orders could be tracked efficiently through the warehouse, with full visibility into inventory availabilities.

The project launched in August 2020. Agile methods were used to complete work in sprints, as components arrived, were installed, tested, and integrated around a jagged construction schedule plagued by pandemic-related supply chain delays and staffing issues. Tight collaboration among Open Sky Group, third-party vendors, and client resources managed to advance the project in stages.

The first package shipped out of the facility in June 2021. Full automation went live in September. By November, just before the peak season hit, the last components were installed, and all systems were deemed stable for business, reaching their goal of evolution.

The Results

The 15-month turnaround was remarkable, considering the restricted pandemic conditions and associated delays. Because so many of the client’s personnel were already trained on the BY system, the latest version was adopted swiftly and without issue.

The newly equipped DC effectively passed its most stringent test during the 2021-22 peak season. With so many consumers working from home and shopping online, orders doubled over pre-pandemic conditions. Backorder fulfillment is one area where the system showed its mettle; only minimal support from other DCs in the network was required to meet customer demands. The collateral benefit is that fewer trucks hit the road, shrinking the company’s environmental footprint, while also cutting time and cost in the process.

Employee satisfaction at the warehouse is high. Automation has reduced the amount of physical labor, while analytics presented on graphical dashboards provide decision-makers with the necessary insights to enhance efficiency, safety, and productivity.

Today, Open Sky Group and the client are making minor corrections to the system based on early learnings. Progress is also now closing on a greenfield facility set to launch in fall 2022 in Texas.

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich

CEO

Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.