NVC Lighting take control of their stock with Warehouse Management Software  

OGL spoke to both NVC UK’s Deputy Manager and Logistics Manager to understand how prof.ITplus has helped them eradicate the issues they were experiencing within their warehouse department, which were having serious effects on their stock management, efficiency and customer service.

They explained: “We were running two systems that were not linked, they were completely different IT systems and it was chaotic. It caused enormous problems such as stock accuracy issues, inaccurate location of products and warehouse inefficiencies which in turn affected our stock values. It was chaotic and a problem that we knew we had to address.”

The Logistics Manager explains: “The stock management system we had was a location system rather than a warehouse management system, so with the onset of prof.ITplus, it’s enabled us to do lots of different things.”

What challenges did NVC UK face before prof.ITplus WMS?

Stock accuracy, warehouse inefficiencies and customer service were the key areas NVC UK saw challenges in before implementing prof.ITplus WMS. “Stock accuracy was a really big problem when I first joined. We’d take an order on the phone and when we’d go to pick the stock it wasn’t there, or the right quantities of stock wasn’t there because we couldn’t manage our stock by location or volume of stock in that location.

“Improving our customer service was key for us. Historically, if you went around our clients, they would often have a perception that we couldn’t get a product out to them on time and in full.”

By not having clear visibility and control over the stock they held, NVC started to see a decrease in the quality of customer service they could offer. For NVC their warehouse sits at the heart of their business, so when challenges arose with their stock control it began to affect other areas of their business, and without access to coherent data and reports on their warehouse and stock performance from their previous software, it was difficult to see the areas in which to improve.

Improving stock accuracy with perpetual stock takes in WMS

Before looking to improve on their customer service, NVC first needed to gain control of their stock. prof.ITplus enabled them to start performing perpetual stock checks to regularly keep check of their stock which transformed the way the company managed their warehouse.

“With prof.ITplus we’re now able to do perpetual inventories as opposed to annual stock takes, which allows the business to increase its turnover and profit because of the additional trading days available. We can now carry out the perpetual inventory checks on an ongoing basis, with one person carrying out the activity all year round. This gives us greater accuracy of our stock, knowing that it’s in the right place at the right time ready for a customer to order it. It’s a win-win all round.”

Not only has perpetual stock takes allowed NVC to save money on direct costs but it’s directly affected stock accuracy for better customer service. This year marks a cause for celebration: “For the first time in the history of NVC UK we won’t need to do a yearly stock take, so we’ve gained almost 2 weeks’ worth of business which will also have an effect on our bottom line.”

Changing customer perceptions with prof.ITplus

Feedback from customers can be an easy indicator of any underlying problems within the business and letting customers down was something they wanted to avoid: “There is nothing more frustrating than a customer calling on the phone and the system saying you have stock of items when you don’t. It’s painful and embarrassing to have to go back to the customer to say sorry but it seems the system was wrong. We could tell from the constant everyday issues we were getting, that our reputation wasn’t good. We were extremely inefficient, and spent a considerable amount of time looking for products.

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“We wanted to improve our reputation and our delivery performance and unless you have a very good WMS to support you, that is not going to happen.”

prof.ITplus has provided NVC with the visibility of accurate data so that sales staff can process orders with confidence, the software also provides key reports for the managers to assess performance, identify weaknesses and make enhancements to continually improve the service, which is key. “We strive to continuously improve day in day out and prof.ITplus gives us that advantage.

“The perception of us externally and internally has completely done a 180 turn on itself. Some of the reports we get, such as the on time in full (OTIF) report is a great example. We can now drive efficiencies based on reason codes and assess further as to why the delivery was failed. As a result, we are now at 99.2% on our in time in full.”

With clear reports and truthful data to analyse, the team have the confidence that they can meet the needs of the customer and deliver on their promises. “The KPI’s we have gives us confidence in our performance and you can be proud to take customers around the warehouse. At the end of each aisle you can look at the efficiency measures and all the quality measures that are in place for the team and that is where the transformation comes in. You can sell it to your customers and be confident that it’s not just words, we can demonstrate it.

“We want to be able to promote ourselves on being able to deliver an excellent customer service. I must admit that two or three years ago we couldn’t say that. But I believe that now, with what we’re doing with WMS, we can say that with confidence.”

Increased warehouse efficiencies to reduce costs

NVC saw immediate benefits from prof.ITplus to their warehouse efficiencies. “The immediate benefit that became apparent very quickly was the organisation of the warehouse itself. Looking at efficiency in picking, how to organise stock locations, where to store products based on size and weight, knowing our best sellers and how to move stock around to be in the most efficient position.

“The structure of the warehouse now using [prof.ITplus] WMS enables us to look at our forecasts and purchasing materials to discuss what we’ve got coming in, when they’re coming in and where we’re going to put them in the most efficient way. This makes our housekeeping a lot easier in terms of the perpetual stock taking, picking and dispatching. The whole aspect is definitely a lot more efficient from end to end.”

For NVC’s Logistics Manager, it was key to have access to performance data to enable him to improve efficiencies in the warehouse. “I’m now able to extract lots of different data out of the system. Historically I couldn’t manage my people based on their performance, now I can, and I couldn’t manage my stock, but now I can.

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“Previously our efficiency in picking was unknown. When we first analysed our data, it took around 12.5 minutes [per pick sheet] and now we have that down to 107 seconds, which is fantastic. We can make those improvements based on having fixed locations for products, knowing the fastest moving products and where they’re located. Due to the flexibility of prof.ITplus we’re able to change fixed locations of fast moving products to the front of the warehouse so the guys have the smallest possible walk route.

“It’s a fantastic improvement and we wouldn’t be able to do that without prof.ITplus.”

Having tighter control of their stock and improving the picking efficiencies is inevitably impacting the company’s profit margins. “You don’t want stock losses – it’ll affect your bottom line, if you have far too many people doing a job and you’re inefficient – it’ll affect your bottom line. All these things have dramatically been tightened up and as a result we’ve seen massive improvements on our direct costs.”

prof.ITplus provides confidence in all areas of the business

Giving your staff the tools to effectively complete their daily tasks and confidently sell to customers ensures that each department can work effectively to enable the customer journey from enquiry to order, to stock allocation and dispatching is seamless.

NVC UK praises prof.ITplus because it now gives the internal sales teams the confidence in the pricing and stock levels they see on the system to ensure they’re not firefighting issues when they arise. “WMS touched many areas of the business; it wasn’t just the warehouse. It impacts the purchasing, production, accounts and internal sales departments, allowing people to communicate together with confidence – the overall difference is remarkable.”

prof.ITplus has given the Logistics Manager the confidence to report on company performance, to be able to continually strive for better, “without prof.ITplus how could I manage my warehouse? I couldn’t is the answer.

“We’re able to drive our business forward and delight our clients, with prof.ITplus giving us the data to help us improve on a day-to-day basis.”

To ensure prof.ITplus and the WMS module worked seamlessly for NVC it was important to understand their business processes in order to configure the system to work for them and drive their business forward. To ensure minimal disruption at go-live, it was important for OGL to work closely with NVC to create a clear plan of action. “It was essential that we worked closely together and for me that was one of the most successful factors, if we tried to do it on our own, we would have failed. The back up and support from OGL, together with our team – who were willing to embrace the change, was definitely a major factor in the success of implementing the WMS module within prof.ITplus.

“We had two experts from OGL who were with us six months prior to implementation, they understood the key aspects inside out and how prof.ITplus needed to be tailored to suit our business needs. It was a great partnership at go-live with ongoing support to iron out any teething problems that may have occurred.”

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