I had the pleasure of attending HighJump’s user conference last week. As I sat awaiting a Sears Holdings presentation about the company’s integrated retail strategy (aka omni-channel), a fellow audience member made a telling statement to the presenter. He told the Sears executive that the adoption of HighJump solutions by Sears and Deckers Outdoor had recently driven HighJump’s image to a new level of prominence. I found this to be telling because it was consistent with the message I have been hearing recently – that HighJump is becoming a more prominent competitor in WMS supplier evaluations.
HighJump’s conference was held in Las Vegas for the second year in a row. The company’s CEO, Russell Fleischer, presented on the company’s strategic direction and overall value proposition. He reiterated the company’s focus on continuing product innovation, quick time to market, and solutions with a competitive total cost of ownership. HighJump’s strengths such as solution adaptability and total cost of ownership were confirmed by customers in subsequent sessions. For example, I attended a presentation by an end-user that had recently completed a sucessful implementation of HighJump’s WMS solution. This retailer’s WMS implementation was subject to tight time constraints due to the upcoming retail peak season. He confirmed that his firm chose HighJump due to its adaptability, ease of implementation, and other features that contribute to its desirable total cost of ownership.
Overall, I found the customer case studies and other use cases to be highly informative. The presentation on Sears Holdings’ integrated retail strategy was the highlight for me. Historically, Sears was fulfilling online orders through two warehouses in the Chicago area. The company was determined to expand and improve upon its online fulfillment capabilities and assortment options. To achive these goals, it embarked upon its “Cheetah Sears Network” project. The project was designed to leverage both retail distribution centers and store inventory. Approximately 19 Sears stores and 17 Kmart stores were utilized. This integrated fulfillment project required process changes and accurate in-store inventory visibility. The speed of the roll-out was impressive – 75 days from conception to pilot and 9 months to national roll-out. During the 2012 peak season the Cheetah project achived 99 percent fill rates including both DC and store locations, with the average store processing around 750 orders per day. Sears leveraged HighJump WMS to enable many of these processes. Store picking associates were provided with both item number and description to facilitate the process of picking from the retail floor. Sears also conducted a pilot program that optimized store fulfillment processes. This pilot program utilized HighJump WMS logic to geocode sections of the store into picking zones, batch multiple orders together into waves during the day, and develop efficient picking paths. In addition, item pictures were included to faciliate a more efficient and accurate picking process. Sears plans to continue its ongoing improvement efforts to extend its presence in the fast growing ecommerce market.
Finally, I would like to note the degree to which alternative devices, such as iPads, were being utilized for picking processes by end-users at the HighJump conference. Users stated that many younger employees tend to find iPads and other touch screen devices to be intuitive. Also, the ability to easily include pictures of the product can be especially helpful for items such as apparel that may be difficult to distinguish through textual descriptions. Finally, integration of these devices through HighJump’s Webwise tool was considered relatively straitforward and easy for internal IT staff to get up and running.