Van Tilburg Mode & Sport is the largest independent fashion store in the Netherlands. With a wide range of men and women’s fashion, shoes, children's clothing, sports, lingerie and an outlet store, Van Tilburg is a household name throughout the region. “In Nistelrode alone, we have more than 15,000 m2 of retail space. With more than 1,000 brands, we offer our customers everything they need in terms of fashion and sports,” says director Paul van Tilburg, now the third generation leading the family business.
In order to streamline the picking and packing of the ever-growing number of orders from their online store, a tailored solution was found using the Datalogic Memor 10 combined with customized software from ICS Vertex and a new ERP system from ACA.
In 2010, Van Tilburg started selling via the online store vantilburgonline.nl. "A steadily growing branch of the business which now accounts for 12 percent of our turnover" says the director. However, the way in which the growing number of orders were processed until recently needed updating to boost efficiency. "Employees walked through the store on the basis of paper picking lists, where the products ordered online were then searched for and picked," Van Tilburg explains. “Because everything was manual, we barely had any insight into the progress and status of orders. In the new setup, the entire pick & pack process has been digitized and further optimized. That way we know at all times how we are doing and what still needs to be done."
Because the ERP system also needed to be replaced, Van Tilburg started looking for a total solution that included both a new ERP as well as CRM system. "Picking and packing the online orders was part of that complete solution," explains project manager Erwin Zwijgers. The wishes and requirements were submitted to various ERP suppliers and ACA Fashion Software was chosen. “They have knowledge and experience in the fashion world, and they have a standard in-house solution with XPRT, which provided an excellent base for us to extend. Moreover, they continue to innovate, which was important for us as well” says Zwijgers.
Together with the ERP supplier, a solution was devised that fits the fashion shop's approach like a tailor-made suit. "The biggest challenge was that our process is different from that of most other web stores," Zwijgers continues. "Our complete stock is in the physical stores." Online orders are picked while there are shoppers in the stores. "There is therefore a risk that an item ordered online will suddenly no longer be available, because an in-store visitor has just bought the last item," explains the project manager. An almost real-time link between the POS system and the online store is therefore crucial.
To overcome this, ACA Fashion Software used the services of ICS Vertex. Together, the partners fine-tuned the communication between ScanSuite and the XPRT system supplied by ICS Vertex. To make the order picking process as efficient as possible for Van Tilburg, ICS Vertex added several new features to the scanning solution. “For example, as standard the scanner display now shows an image of the item to be picked, together with the most important article information. For additional details, the operator simply clicks on the photo” explains Zwijgers.
The Datalogic Memor 10 handheld computers fit perfectly with the new method. On the clear, 5-inch display, the image of the displayed item can be recognized at all times under all circumstances. Moreover, thanks to the 4G functionality, the scanners can also be used without problems in areas where there is no WiFi coverage. "Thanks to the change in ScanSuite, we can now even pick orders when offline." adds Zwijgers. “In addition, these scanners offer us the opportunity to work with RFID in the future without the need for additional adjustments.” For an ergonomic operation, the scanners are supplied with an attachable pistol grip.
The orders are collected batchwise according to a logical, efficient route - taking into account things such as brand and department. "Once an order is placed, they are automatically split at line level by store and by shipping method," explains Zwijgers. “They are then collected on the shop floor on a pick cart with the help of the scanners. The employee sees the image, walks to the right department, scans the relevant item and immediately sees what the next pick is.” The collected items are then taken to the shipping department. Van Tilburg makes a distinction between single line orders and multi-line orders. Single line orders are directly packed and shipped, while multi-line orders are first sorted and only assembled and packaged once the entire order is complete. When scanning the articles on the packing tables, the system automatically generates the correct packing slip, the return form and the shipping label.
“We have now been working with the new system for more than a month. Although too short a time to quantify all the benefits, it is already clear that efficiency has increased significantly,” concludes Zwijgers. “The new approach saves a lot of time. Moreover, we expect the error rate to decrease and therefore the number of return shipments to decrease as a result of an incorrect pick. That way the service to the customer gets even better."