Primos Hunting Calls Snares Efficiency
In "The Hunter," an Ogden Nash poem, a fellow "conjures up a quacking noise / to lend allure to his decoys.
" Today, such a hunter might well be conjuring with a product from Primos Hunting Calls. But without good warehouse technology, that call might never have made it to his lips -- bad news for the hunter; good news for the duck.
Primos, based in Flora, Miss., has roughly 135 employees in two locations. In addition to producing instructional videos and an Outdoor Channel television show, the company manufactures hunting calls, hunting apparel, and other accessories that are used with guns and bows, and that are sold at retailers small and large -- including Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's Sporting Goods, and L.L.Bean.
Increased sales volume and ever-changing customer requirements taxed Primos' manual warehouse processes. Without the ability to verify the packing and shipping of orders, inefficiency and shipping errors were widespread.
When Cliff Manuel became chief information officer in 2006, Primos was already using Macola Progression from Exact Software and had purchased the Exact Warehouse Management System (WMS) for its shipping functionality. For a while, Primos was using the WMS "as a very expensive printer for Wal-Mart labels," Manuel recalls now; the system's other features were going to waste. Manuel decided to learn more about WMS and its capabilities, and eventually shifted the warehouse to barcode use.
"The order verification that the WMS offered turned out to be a lifesaver," Manuel says. "With the ability to scan product as it's packed, WMS has virtually eliminated errors and has contributed to thousands of dollars in cost savings." The scanner provides a prompt whenever an incorrect item is scanned, or when the company is over- or undershipping, driving preemptive action before larger problems arise.
Before, Primos had daily complaint calls from its customers -- and no way to verify the accuracy of those complaints. After adding the WMS, Primos saw a dramatic drop in those calls and claims. The company could now verify the exact contents and weight of each order -- and even each item in the order -- from the recorded information, enabling staffers to report with confidence whether a missing item was indeed shipped or not.
"We had a customer with a $100,000 order call to say that product valued at $15,000 was missing from one of our shipments," Manuel recalls. "Through the WMS, I was able to track the product and identify the cartons in which they were shipped, as well as when they were shipped. The customer did some further research on their end and found the 'missing' product had been misplaced in their own warehouse. Without the ability to prove the products had shipped, we would have processed a $15,000 credit to our customer -- a costly error."
Primos' shipping department is now more streamlined, more competent, and more productive. "Last year we increased our sales volume by $5 million, and, thanks to the efficiency of the WMS, we only had to add one person to the warehouse staff," Manuel says. He adds that advance ship notice (ASN) preparation time dropped from one hour to seven minutes. "The person who handles the ASNs actually came in to my office to thank me for making her job easier."
Now Primos can immediately respond to inquiries with very specific answers, leading to improved satisfaction. A new warehouse expansion plan will add RFID to the warehouse automation setup. In all, the Exact solutions have changed the way Primos does business, unquestionably for the better. "There is no going back," Manuel says. "The rare times that we have technical problems and our shipping stations are down, I would rather have our guys sitting around doing nothing than risk the mistakes that we would encounter in trying to pack and ship using our old methods."
By implementing Exact Warehouse Management System, Primos Hunting Calls:
- kept staffing nearly flat despite a $5 million sales volume increase;
- reduced ASN preparation time from one hour to seven minutes;
- saved at least $15,000 in chargebacks; and
- virtually eliminated shipping errors.