Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin Barry, founder and COO of Second Nature, a home wellness company that offers an airfilter subscription service to help homeowners stay on top of their ongoing maintenance needs. Second Nature plans to expand their offering with refrigerator water filters in early 2020. This fast-growing small-to-medium business (SMB) was founded in 2012; today it has 120+ employees and has expanded rapidly to serve customers in every state. To support their explosive growth, Mr. Barry began looking for a cloud-based supply chain management (SCM) system and warehouse management solution (WMS) to simplify warehouse operations and improve data reporting. By improving inventory management, they were able to strengthen the customer experience and enhance the bottom line. Read on to learn more about how small-to-medium businesses can use SCM solutions to support growth and operations.
What business challenge led you to upgrade your solutions?
As a fast-growing venture backed corporation, we were starting to get pinched with our homegrown SCM solution, which wasn't satisfying our needs. We faced challenges such as lack of ability to view and appropriately manage our inventory. In addition, we were having trouble pulling in the right data and being sure that what we were sharing with our investors was accurate. As we continued to scale, we decided that we needed to have appropriate SCM and Warehouse Management Solutions (WMS), which led us to Oracle.
How did Oracle Warehouse Management Solutions meet your needs?
As we looked at different solutions, we landed on Oracle WMS Cloud for a variety of reasons. This included the ease of implementation, which we ended up seeing in our less than six month implementation timeline. From the day that we signed with our implementation consultants until the day that we went live was 179 days. It was a great feeling to be able to move to our new WMS system in a very quick and efficient period of time, with little downtime.
The ability to add on extensions to this solution as we continue to scale, and the myriad features and functionalities that are built into the system allows us to operate our business more efficiently than in the past. We selected Oracle Warehouse Management and deployed it in the cloud because our company is cloud-first. It's important, as a fast-growing company, to be able to scale with the solutions that you are using. And Oracle solutions have been able to provide us with that ability.
How are you using Warehouse Management Cloud to manage data and operations?
We use Oracle Warehouse Cloud for all our warehousing activities, such as receiving, put away, and inventory management. We also utilize a manufacturing module, plus pick pack and ship functionality.
We utilize the receiving functionality, which integrates directly with our purchase orders as they're received to our facilities. We utilize put away functionality, in addition to general warehouse management inventory functionalities. In addition, we use the manufacturing module as well as the “pick, pack and ship” module.
As we've gone live on Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud, we've seen significant advances in our ability to understand and interpret our data. But we also have seen our data in a much more stable and reliable state. This has allowed us to more efficiently manage our inventory and more efficiently manage our workforce, while making sure that all our customers are receiving their products on time.
What’s impact has WMS had on your team and customers?
Our customers didn't even notice the cut over, and our team is in love with the solution. We've been able to provide them with easy-to-use functionality to achieve the same goals that they had before. Now a job that took two people is now only taking one person part of one day. In addition, training our staff on the floor is a cinch.
What are some of the business benefits you’ve realized since going live?
Since going live with our Oracle solution, some of the business benefits that we have realized focus on inventory management. Being able to accurately track inventory is financially critical from a costing perspective. Tracking inventory is also extremely important from the warehouse floor level. It is critical to ensure that we have stock on time in a pickable location, so our customers receive their products on time, every time.
With the Oracle solution, we've been able to provide our material handlers and our inventory management teams with greater data to ensure that we keep the floor stocked in an appropriate manner. We've also been able to provide our manufacturing team with more appropriate forecasts and availability reports to ensure that we always have the correct production running.
How important is speed fulfillment to the customer experience?
In this fast-paced world, expectations are very high. You must have the ability to deliver products to customers in just a few days. With Oracle WMS being in the cloud and the ability for us to send information between all our different systems in real-time, we can place all our orders directly into the system and get them out in the same day without any lag.
It's been a wonderful not having to worry if all our customer orders are going to be able to ship out on time. By implementing this world class solution, we're able to bring on talent who is familiar with other software systems of this scale. They can walk in the door and understand how to manage those solutions.
What are some of the key operational differences between you, as a smaller, high-growth company and larger distributors and manufacturers?
The biggest difference between us and larger distributors and manufacturers is we must be lean and nimble in the quick and agile environment we operate in. We potentially have to change our warehouse layouts two or three times a year. And Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud has already allowed for us to do that one time already since go-live.
Was there anything that surprised you about the implementation? Anything you did not expect? Any “aha” moments that you did not see coming?
Something that we didn't expect was the ability to efficiently deliver orders to the floor with Oracle Cloud WMS's wave picking functionality, which allows us to deploy orders in groups that are the most efficient for us to pick. Because of this, we were actually able to reduce the amount of employees it took provide orders to the floor in half.
When picking orders, we're able to group them into different batches that allow us to go down either one or two aisles rather than 10 aisles to pick all the filters that need that go out to our customers. By doing that, we're able to pick the orders much faster and move along to the next group of orders. Our team members can pick more orders per day, which allows for us to scale with less human capital.
Why would you recommend other businesses to consider Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud?
I would recommend this solution to anyone who's looking for a quick, extremely smooth implementation. I'd recommend it to someone who wants to have a warehouse management solution that is extremely efficient to operate on a day-to-day basis, with little to no stress involved, assuming they're utilizing the system appropriately.
What are your future plans for Oracle WMS?
As we're continuing to scale, we will invest in material handling equipment that will allow us to get orders out the door as quickly as possible for our customers. This will integrate nicely with Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud. Additionally, we will implement Oracle's Warehouse Workforce Management solution so we can more appropriately track our labor and create incentive packages that inspire our employees to perform at their top level.
What’s next for Second Nature?
The industries that we operate in are sleepy and ripe for innovation. Life after Oracle has improved all the way from the board level to the operator level. I would say that every single position within the organization has benefitted. Sales has better insights into their orders, making sure that they get delivered to their customers correctly and on time. At the board level, they know that our data is accurate. The operators are more confident in their work because they have data at their fingertips instead of papers and pencils.
We've been really excited to implement a world-class solution in our business that we don't have to worry about over the next five-plus years. We know it will scale as we grow. It's going to allow us to focus on what's important, which is innovation, growth, and quickly delivering a great product to our customers.