WMS platform boosts distribution efficiency for ranch store chain

C-A-L Ranch, a ranch and home chain with 26 stores in western states, has increased the speed, accuracy and efficiency of its warehouse and distribution operation with the implementation of a new warehouse management system.

The retailer needed to improve its receiving, put-away and picking process during its busy seasonal sales periods, and turned to PathGuide for its dedicated Latitude WMS.

"During peak sales periods, the distribution floor became a bottleneck in getting goods out to the stores in a timely manner," said Tom Yearsley, CFO of C-A-L Ranch. "Merchandise can't be sold if it's sitting in a distribution center."

In the winter and spring, ranch and farm labor intensifies, which corresponds with an increase for agricultural supplies at C-A-L Ranch. While the distribution center was able to keep up under normal workloads, the demand spikes meant additional stock in the warehouse, which resulted in shipping delays. Late last year, the retailer decided it was time to automate its warehouse processes with a WMS.

While most companies evaluate multiple WMS systems based on functionality, interoperability, customization and price, C-A-L Ranch skipped much of this process because of its membership in Mid-States Distributing Company. This group of independently owned and operated farm and ranch retailers provided C-A-L Ranch with first-hand experience and advice about how to choose a WMS that would suit its needs. Further narrowing the selection process, C-A-L Ranch had adopted Epicor's Eagle ERP (enterprise resource planning) system in 2011 and it needed a WMS that could interface with its ERP.

PathGuide's Latitude WMS was such a system, so the retailer did a detailed assessment of the business impact, ease of use, training requirements and all associated costs of the system. After a careful study, C-A-L Ranch decided to move forward with the implementation of PathGuide's Latitude WMS in late 2014.

The implementation took place during a slower time before the busy spring season, with a 'go-live' set for the end of January 2015. The PathGuide implementation team installed the wireless infrastructure, trained and familiarized C-A-L Ranch employees, inspected the warehouse, and completed all other recommendations and consulting required for implementation. After 10 weeks dedicated to preparation, discussions and build-out, the WMS went live on schedule.

C-A-L Ranch reported a good experience from its first spring with the new system, although it is too soon to provide results. Feedback from employees at the distribution center is very positive. As the pain points were resolved, employee morale increased, making the workplace more productive and efficient. Throughout the deployment process, PathGuide assigned implementation team members who worked closely with C-A-L Ranch to ensure that any additional requirements were met.

"Overall we've been very, very pleased," Yearsley said. "We are more efficient and accurate, much faster and we have far less paperwork. The employees love it as well, particularly since we now get product out to the stores where it can be sold in a timely manner. We've now opened a second distribution center, which also uses Latitude. The whole integration process has been very smooth."

Since deploying the WMS, C-A-L Ranch became a member of PathGuide's Latitude Advisory Board, a user group that meets regularly to discuss industry trends and recommend enhancements to the system. Yearsley appreciates the chance to contribute to this group, as he said, "The success of Latitude helps guarantee our own success."

For more:
-See this PathGuide case study

Related stories:
Even warehouse managers can benefit from mobility
The next gen supply chain will separate retail's winners and losers
Study cites 3 keys to updating supply chain for omnichannel success
In supply chain tech, retailers must change or become obsolete
40% of retailers say back-office technology hampering omnichannel efforts