WCS is a dedicated provider of comprehensive supply chain execution technology, services and solutions that range from warehouse management, billing and procurement through to voice, labour management, POD, asset management and analytics. Engineered to be future proof, the company’s flagship product CSnx is a next generation warehouse management platform that offers organisations easy-to-use, flexible, scalable out of the box capability that will automate, diagnose and seamlessly manage today’s complex omnichannel supply chain operations.
Headquartered in the UK, with offices in North America and South Africa, the company was founded in 1969 by grocer Charlie Fitzmorris, and today services many of the industry’s top-tier grocery retailers with its innovative warehouse management system.
WLN – As a leading supplier in the Warehouse Management Systems category, what has the last year been like for your business? How about for the rest of your sector?
The last 12 months across our industry has been about change. During the recession our customers were focused on keeping costs down, retaining legacy systems and maintaining what they had in place. However, recently there has been a seismic shift in thinking within all the organisations we are working with and that has primarily been driven by their own customer demands. Omni-channel has created a challenge that can be solved by the optimisation of warehouse efficiencies. Remaining competitive in an industry where the desire for instant gratification from customers is leading the change is a huge challenge. In the past the supply chain was undervalued, but today there is real recognition that optimising supply chain processes is key to achieving competitive advantage. As a result, we have seen significant growth in our business in the last 24 months, and with the latest version of our product, CSnx launched this year, we’re positive we’ll continue to strengthen our market position.
WLN – What are your best-known products and services?
As the original creator of warehouse management systems, WCS has pioneered many methodologies like stockless warehouse.
We were the first to implement a voice solution both in the UK and US and have a fully integrated offering of purchasing, warehousing and labour management which is unique globally. With the recent release of our next generation product CSnx, we have all our existing functionality and much more to meet today’s business needs and beyond.
WLN – What makes you the first choice supplier in your field?
Primarily it is our long history in the industry. Having worked closely with international customers over several decades, we bring a depth of functionality to our products that is often lacking in competitor solutions. Our focus on a single suite of products is a compelling reason for our customers to work with us. We strive to develop best-of-class functionality and keeping our resources focused in one place means we can offer a strong, stable and functionally rich system.
WLN – What changes have you made to your core offering in the last year?
2014 saw the release of our flagship CSnx Warehouse Management solution with fully integrated Labour Management which also came with an expansion of our existing voice offering to include Voice Perpetual Inventory.
In 2015 we launched CSnx Purchasing which starts with the best of our legacy applications and expands from there. It has been built upon the same open, real time strong Java foundation, enabling seamless integration with our Warehouse Management System.
Additionally, it will be available as a standalone package, which can be easily integrated with other third-party applications.
WLN – What new products and services have you introduced?
In addition to launching our third generation CSnx offering to market and expanding our existing offering, this year has also seen the launch of the BrightTrack intuitive, in-application eLearning product.
WLN – What industries are your customers in?
We primarily focus on grocery wholesale distribution and retail sectors. However we also support pharmaceutical, DIY and manufacturing operations.
WLN – How do your products and services help customers become more efficient, greener or work safer?
Our customers are committing to upgrade to our new offering as they see this as a solution that not only has the same rich functionality to which they are accustomed, but because it can also give them the benefit of being real-time, giving them a true picture of inventory. The modern design allows for easier integration with ancillary systems and removes the need for costly down-time for daily/weekly processing.
Labour management is also at the heart of our technology and built into the core logic, meaning the system is always determining the most efficient way to perform work in the warehouse. WCS customer Brendan Fitzgerald from Musgrave Retail Partners Limited recently commented on their use of our labour module which has given them significant efficiency achievements: “The labour management module within our WMS has delivered significant benefits for us and allowed us to analyse productivity in a different way. Before our use of the labour management functionality, measurement of productivity was based on metrics such as cases per hour assembly and tasks per hour for fork activity. These metrics gave us some basic performance indicators but failed to account for factors such as hit rate, volume and required work effort. Workers could earn additional bonus payments when picking large orders or during periods of increased volume, without any increase in work effort.”
He continued, “The basis of any good productivity bonus scheme should be able to reward extra effort and the Labour Management module we integrated into our WMS system helps us achieve this.” The company no longer has to wait for remeasured standards to realise benefits from warehouse layout changes for example; previous standards had been based on averages and standards only changed when a remeasure occurred. Using the Labour Management functionality each assignment is now based on actual parameters such as distance travelled and where travel is decreased through better layout, the benefit is immediately realised through decreased standard times.”
With our integrated voice solutions we have also saved customers millions of pounds with a paperless workforce. Voice technology allows operators to use both hands to perform tasks, resulting in fewer injuries and a reduction in damaged product.
WLN – Can you tell us about some of your customers and the work you do for them?
Our customers range from those with virtually no internal expertise who need a high level of support to those who have large, experienced teams who need only occasional support. In all cases, we offer implementation services, business and technical consultancy and all on-going support required to our customers to successfully manage their operations. We can customise the product to ensure it fits their needs exactly.
Our customers include the likes of Bozzuto’s Inc., a total service wholesale distributor based in the US, who we’ve worked with since 1997, a total service wholesale distributor based in the US. The company has used the wide range of our tools over a number of years, and they feel that using the WCS system has enabled it to grow and improve its customer service throughout the whole supply chain. It views WCS as a strategic partner, not just a supplier.
Jamie Wright, Director of Industrial Engineering at Bozzuto’s Inc, recently said, “In 15 years we have quadrupled in sales volumes and have quadrupled again in SKU product ranges. Within a few years we have gone from a $1.7bn business to a $2.1 billion operation from the same sized DC. The only way we could achieve that was through the implementation of smart technology from WCS.”
WLN – Is there a recent or current project that stands out as a showcase for your company? Can you tell us about it?
Musgrave Retail Partners in Ireland has achieved significant ROI on its voice implementation recently and continues to see a return of around 660k Euros a year with high levels of accuracy and productivity gains of around 9%. The system implemented earlier in the year integrates seamlessly with our warehouse management system, with all voicebased transactions allowing for real-time maintenance of inventory levels and better synchronisation of replenishment activities.
Accuracy and productivity are critical in modern distribution centres, and the use of voice technology delivers this by utilising hands-free, eyes free communications.
WLN – What were your company’s biggest achievements in the last 12 months?
The early adoption of our next generation product has been a huge success. CSnx is a compelling proposition for businesses faced with the challenges of multi-channel operations. We’ve secured business with several key US and European organisations, and are in the first stages of implementation. Our brand recognition in the industry as a result is building, and the awareness that our product is more functionally rich than any other on the market is being realised.
Our customer user group has advanced significantly during the last year as well, with over 80% of content delivered by the users themselves which is unique in the industry.
The introduction of an issues-led thoughtleadership program where customers can freely engage with each other on a daily basis is hugely valuable and our customers continue to take advantage of peer experiences to adapt their businesses.
WLN – Are you currently investing in the business, taking on staff or going into new markets or countries? If so, how’s it going?
The last 24 months have seen huge growth for our organisation – we’ve grown our talent pool by over 50% and will continue to do so in the next year. The opportunities we have worldwide, will lead to an expansion of our current skilled staff base.
WLN – What are you doing to bring on new talent and raise skills levels in your company?
We’re working internally to evaluate training opportunities for existing staff so we can enhance their skills in line with latest industry techniques and similarly with new talent we take on; we want to help them to innovate by providing the necessary training infrastructure.
WLN – What are the major issues facing the Warehouse Management Systems category as we go forward? How is your company addressing them?
NISA Retail is one of our key customers, Dave Morris, Head of IT at NISA, commented: “Keeping ahead of the game – one main challenge is to constantly innovate to look for competitive advantage in an already technologically saturated marketplace. There is an expectation that all elements of the distribution lifecycle are available to the retailer 24/7 via mobile and tablet systems and it is becoming more of a challenge to keep ahead of the game.”
“Maintaining customer service – the retailer wants smaller, more frequent drops of product to serve their customer. However, this is a challenge to the distribution network to maintain the level of service and to keep costs down whilst keeping the retailer happy.”
“Analysis of BI – the plethora of data produced gives great insight into all elements of the supply chain. However a challenge is disseminating this information to gain meaningful results that can maintain competitiveness and profitability in an omni-channel global landscape.”
Legislation is also having a large impact in food industries. The farm-to-fork compliance requirements of having a preventative food safety plan and supporting systems will be business critical and our system caters for full date and lot management so will support that challenge.
Employee turnover continues to be a key challenge for our customers, so our labour management system comes into its own for these customers. It allows employee incentives, and can readily track performance to lessen attrition rates.
WLN – Will you be exhibiting at any major trade shows in the coming year?
Yes, our plan isn’t 100% finalised but we’ll have a presence at all the major trade shows. WLN – What other big news from Worldwide Chain Stores can our readers look forward to reading in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2016?
The main news will be the growing customer base and announcements around several new customers using the new CSnx platform. Our business is focused on technological innovation, so we’ll be making lots of mobile adaptation and continuing to make functionality more real time and automated.
Allowing visibility across the business will also be key so those outside the warehouse can easily measure performance and effect.