Rico Industries and NetSuite partner DSI shared the stage on Tuesday at SuiteWorld to explain how a 70-year-old retail organization can bring itself up to date with a modern supply chain system.
Rico has been in business since 1944, selling everything from pennants, magnets and drinks coasters emblazoned with sports team logos. The firm has been using NetSuite since 2013 for CRM, ERP and HCM but it still faced a problem over the lack of visibility and real-time information around its inventory. It turned to NetSuite partner DSI for its Digital Supply Chain Platform, a NetSuite verified app.
Jay Crawford, NetSuite administrator at Rico Industries, outlined the challenges the firm faced around its supply chain:
Rico grew so fast early on that our technology didn’t keep up with where we were and what the demands were. It was just in 2013, that we were still using dot matrix printers to print out orders and paper tickets for the warehouse.
Going from dot matrix to the cloud was a huge leap in terms of thinking and process for everyone. NetSuite has allowed us to scaffold that learning for people and do things when they’re ready. It’s very flexible in that way.
Crawford had a long list of demands before the firm decided to sign up for a DSI NetSuite solution, including flexibility, performance, and whether it would run on desktops, iOS, Android and rugged handhelds. He explained:
Can it be tailored to meet our needs or is it a cookie cutter we have to fit ourselves into? What assumptions does it make about the way we run our business, that we won’t have control over later? Is it scalable? And is it a complete solution? I don’t want to have users jumping back and forth between a terminal and a device to do transactions in NetSuite.
As an administrator, one of the first things I look at is, is this thing a pair of handcuffs that will keep me from doing what we need to do. We quickly found that wasn’t the case. DSI is very flexible, they don’t make any assumptions, it’s a development platform that can be tailored to our needs. They took us from a blank piece of paper to 13 applications that are helping us now in the warehouse.
These apps include purchase order receipt, bin transfer, pick confirmation and ship confirmation. The new applications allow the firm to be much more efficient in order fulfilment. The system can group orders and locate the common picks among them, for example, so instead of sending users to the same bin 20 times a day, it will group similar items together and send the user to that bin one time, and then they can separate the items in the packing process. Crawford gave another example:
For PO receipts, the application lets users zoom in on an image. That’s really important to us as in the sports industry there are a lot of items that look the same, but there are subtle differences and we need to check that when it comes in the door to make sure they got it right as our vendors don’t always get it right.
If there’s a problem, we asked DSI to put a button there where they can take a picture, attach it to the item receipt and email it to the person who cut the PO so they’d know immediately the problems with this item.
Rico also wanted a way to keep its primary bins full. For this, it opted for a saved search method, adding a few custom fields to the bin records application. When a particular bin gets low, it shows up on a saved search, and DSI has a web service that runs in the background and pulls in information to restock it.
Bret Lorenc, chief financial officer at Rico Industries, outlined the benefits the firm has already seen from the DSI NetSuite system, including the ability to reduce the amount of overtime, temporary workers and headcount, leading to 13 percent labor savings in the first 90 days. He added:
Our goal is 20 percent within a year and we’re on track to do that. Before we went into this, everything was manual and on paper. It could be an hour and a half to print out big tickets on busy days like a holiday or back to school. This is transformational in how it’s impacted the floor and how it’s allowed us to cut back on temps. We needed to keep it simple and build in all the logic through the development platform. That for us really made all the difference.
The simplicity of the user interface has been a core part of the success of the implementation, according to Crawford.
The addition of DSI really brought the transactions to life for people in the warehouse. They were used to sitting there with a piece of paper and maybe going back to the computer to update things later rather than doing it right there. I was a little concerned that they would think – oh great, it’s one more thing I have to do. But people were really excited.
This is South Carolina, and a somewhat remote part of it. One lady freaked out one time because the screen saver turned on on her computer and she’d never seen one of those before. This is the kind of user we’re working with, but they picked it up. They’re simple prompting response apps. It’s one question, one answer and they move onto the next question, it’s very easy.
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Disclosure - NetSuite is a diginomica premier partner at time of writing.