Innovative Retail Technologies

SEP-OCT 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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An on-demand packaging system helped the "world's foremost outfitter" achieve 30+ percent productivity gains and significantly reduce packaging consumption. C abela's is the world's largest direct marketer of outdoor gear and mer- chandise. While the company's been around since 1961, it's anything but a legacy-minded retailer. Cabela's has earned its reputation as a progressive leader in the fulfillment systems and technologies that drive its unparalleled customer service levels. Suffice it to say, it ships lots of orders and it ships them fast. Now, the company is taking big steps to fine-tune the efficiency of the packaging it uses to get its products safely to customers' doors. The Cabela's distribution center (DC) in Wheeling, WV, spans more than a million square feet and fulfills $170 million in merchandise annually. That merchandise is deep, and it comes in all shapes and sizes — from tiny fishing lures and long fishing rods to large and heavy auto, boat, and ATV accessories. Before going out the door, every item has to be packed in a box, a step that required a fair amount of decision mak- ing on the part of DC associates, who were limited to a selection of pre-formed boxes from which to choose. "Prior to UPS, we stocked 35 different Cabela's Journey To Packaging Perfection In the direct-to-consumer fulfillment business, the longest learning curve in the DC is box selection, especially with a seasonal workforce. Tim Roberts, operations director, Cabela's box sizes at each of our 60 pack stations," says Cabela's Operations Director Tim Roberts. "In the direct-to-consumer fulfill- ment business, the longest learning curve in the DC is box selection, especially with a seasonal workforce." That makes the pack station a likely source of waste, cost, and inefficiency. Ahead of the 2015 changes to dimensional weight pricing, Roberts and Cabela's long-time shipping partner UPS analyzed those pack stations to determine if the company could realize any packaging and processing efficiencies to minimize the impact of those changes. Custom Boxes, On Demand The analysis exercise uncovered consider- able waste. Items packed in too large a box result in excessive usage of corrugated, wasted space on pallets and trucks that equate to shippers burning fuel to effec- tively haul air, and would ultimately impact Cabela's shipping costs due to the looming dimensional weight pricing changes. The box selection process was also prone to causing bottlenecks at packing stations and slowing down fulfillment speed. BY MATT PILLAR Sept-Oct 2016 10 Proven Innovations To address these issues, UPS and Pack- size introduced On Demand Packaging®. The right-size packaging process lowered dimensional charges for Cabela's, and it re- duced the cost of materials and the cost of labor, especially during peak order periods. The emphasis on sustainability through smarter packaging also aligned perfectly with Cabela's nature-focused brand. UPS and Packsize worked with Cabela's to design a 'box last' (or post-order) On Demand Packaging process, integrating several EM7TM automated packaging machines into Cabela's pack stations along the way. These small-footprint (approxi- mately 15' x 7') machines custom-build

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