June 7, 2002, 12:00 AM

Streamlined warehouse distribution application boosts inventory accuracy

IWS’s Progress-based solution achieves 99.9% accuracy in inventory control at the outsourced fulfillment center for Sears.com.

When Chicago-based Dart Warehouse made the leap from being a local warehouse facility to a total outsource fulfillment center for divisions of national web and catalog companies, it faced inventory control issues as the truckloads of merchandise it processed for its growing customer base climbed to as many as 100 per day. Today, it handles the fulfillment needs of 25 customers including retailers Sears.com and the Great Indoors.com with custom software applications developed by Integrated Warehouse Solutions on the Progress Company’s OpenEdge platform – while boosting inventory accuracy and saving on cost, the company says.

IWS adapted its IRMS warehouse management solution for Dart initially to meet Dart’s needs for a new fulfillment client that would significantly expand its warehouse volume, the Sears Wishbook gift and toy catalog. On signing on with Sears, Dart had 45 days to expand its physical plant, find and integrate a warehouse distribution application to handle higher volume effectively, and integrate it with Sears’ outsourced call center. The warehouse distribution application Dart was then using required the services of an IT staff of 15, and it provided less than complete accuracy in tracking inventory, the company says.

Using Progress’ OpenEdge technology, IWS built out and integrated the new Progress-based IRMS solution by the deadline. The streamlined solution achieved 99.9% inventory accuracy, a significant boost from the 5% shrink rate Dart had to figure into its contracts under the prior system, and it has reduced operating costs by an estimated $1 million, the company says. The warehouse distribution application reduced labor costs alone by as much as 90%. "We now have only two non-technical developers to manage the application," says Herb Duggan, general manager of warehouse owner Dart Logistics. That meant that Dart’s customer Sears saved on fulfillment costs, too, as it freed up resources for use in its core business of marketing and merchandising.

Retail is a growing market for the estimated 2,000 independent software vendors and application service providers that use Progress’s OpenEdge platform to develop custom software solutions for several different industries, according to Niel Powers, director of product marketing for Progress Company. Approximately 15% of Progress’s independent software vendor and ASP partners already use OpenEdge in products they’ve developed for the retail market. "In North America, just about all of our partners are looking at some aspect of retail now," Powers adds. Progress Company, a business unit of Progress Software Corp., is focused on software and services that streamline the development, deployment, integration and management of business applications.

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