Watch Gang’s move to Cloud WMS

A retailer of luxury and collectible watches wanted to bring fulfillment in-house right when Covid-19 hit. Remote implementation allowed for successful deployment, and now the WMS ensures high customer service levels.

Watch Gang is a rapidly growing e-commerce retailer of luxury and collectible watches. The Los Angeles-based company knows time pieces, which is why it’s fitting that it deployed a warehouse management system (WMS) in time to support growth in orders after the Covid-19 pandemic hit—even if the early days of the pandemic threw some challenges into the WMS implementation.

The implementation came right when the Covid-19 pandemic hit full force, when businesses where restricting travel and outside visitors, so it relied on remote implementation from the vendor. It came at a good time to support Watch Gang’s growth and its strategic goal of taking control of its own fulfillment processes.

Founded in 2016, Watch Gang provides a subscription service where they deliver watches direct to consumers on a monthly or quarterly basis. Customers can also purchase pieces outside of this service.

Prior to the new WMS, Watch Gang was frustrated by fulfillment issues, specifically around delivery times, quality control and poor customer service, due to mistakes being made by an third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Bringing it in-house seemed the only option, but they quickly realized a WMS was also essential.

After a search for a WMS, Watch Gang selected a software as a service (SaaS), Cloud-based WMS (SnapFulfil) offering the functionality they were after, and with application programming interfaces (APIs) to support integration to the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system and in-house administrative systems.

However, the pandemic threw complications into the project. With a move into new headquarters and warehouse delayed, Watch Gang had to find a temporary 6,000-square-foot warehouse space to begin implementation from while managing the challenges of social distancing, self isolation, travel restrictions, plus site labor shortages. The temporary facility also had limited Internet bandwidth.

SnapFulfil’s Remote Implementation (RI) program offered virtual support, including regular online training and status meetings, to ensure new teams can access and test the system, which helped the project meet its timeline, and it was deployed within 90 days. This ability to on-board the Cloud-based WMS without physical interaction or movement of people was supported by a configurable, rules-based engine.

The Watch Gang team was asked to provide a video walk through of the fulfillment space before and after racking had been established, which assisted the project team with data configuration and set up, and encouraged collaboration. Together, they determined zones, sections and pick sequences for the temporary warehouse space, and planned for the move and system use at the new warehouse.

Knowledge and context on system functionality was provided by the supplier’s services team ahead of Web conference-based training, which was broken down into small chunks.

“This allowed us flexibility in balancing all the new learning with our day-to-day operations, but especially made it easier to digest and retain information ahead of the next session,” says Sam Christian, Watch Gang’s senior vice president of operations. “This was reflected in how well we were able to apply training learned during Go Live.”

Using a dump of the previous month’s orders allowed the supplier to understand expected volumes across each order type and plan for resource availability during Go Live.

“Real-time data was useful from a testing perspective as it uncovered potential mapping issues regarding customers’ required values,” Christian says. “Testing using real orders gave us all great confidence in the process and meant Go Live was a natural progression from training.”

With the WMS in place, Watch Gang found the functionality supports rapid order fulfillment and accurate inventory control. “[The system] manages and solves our specific issues and problems very well and tells us exactly what is where, and the right quantities,” Christian says. “For example, there’s been a perfect count on SKUs from day one, and not a miss-shipment since.”

Christian explains the operation likes the system’s “AutoMode” feature for task allocation to warehouse associates, because rather than being a static list of tasks for one set area, it allows tasks to be assigned dynamically by the system so daily workflow maintains flexibility.

“I find AutoMode especially helpful, as SnapFulfil optimizes the work issued to the operator to maximize their productivity,” Christian says. “I can assign them a whole queue of tasks with a few clicks of a button, because the RF gun simply tells them what to do next, and it streamlines all our processes.”

Under the WMS’ task management, a single warehouse associate can be guided from picking 30 orders and dropping them at a pack station to replenishing a separate pick slot from the bulk area to auditing the count of a location to beginning the receiving of new product that has just arrived.

“SnapFulfil has dramatically reduced the processing time of our average order,” Christian says. “When previously utilizing 3PLs, we had to send batches of orders once per day and then await processing confirmation before being able to send the next batch, often resulting in delays. With SnapFulfil, the moment an order is ready to be released for processing, it can be sent down to the warehouse team without delay and in an organized and optimized manner.”

Strategically, the WMS strengthens customer service by allowing the company to directly manage order fulfillment. As Christian adds, “We’ve managed to streamline our fulfillment resources down from two 3PL companies to simply five full-time staff—and most importantly it’s allowed us to regain full control.”

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About the Author

Roberto Michel's avatar
Roberto Michel
Roberto Michel, senior editor for Modern, has covered manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1996, mainly as a former staff editor and former contributor at Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to Modern since 2004. He has worked on numerous show dailies, including at ProMat, the North American Material Handling Logistics show, and National Manufacturing Week. You can reach him at: [email protected].
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