Management software drives e-commerce
Online retailer Prat Brands streamlines its warehouse with Easy WMS software from Mecalux.
Prat Brands, a Spanish e-commerce retailer with five brands, has digitised its warehouse with Mecalux's Easy WMS with one goal: to boost productivity. With Easy WMS, the company organises all its SKUs taking into account their brand, turnover, stackability and volume. Additionally, picking is now faster.
Prat Brands: 100% online store
Prat Brands is an e-commerce business founded in 2009 with a single purpose: to sell its products online while offering customers the best possible shopping experience. So far, the company has experienced unabated growth, doubling its turnover, logistics facility and staff. Prat Brands markets five own brands — FITFIU Fitness, Greencut, Lalaloom, McHaus and Playkin — via its websites and in multiple marketplaces.
- Headquarters: Valls, Spain
- Founded in: 2009
- Brands: FITFIU Fitness, Greencut, Lalaloom, McHaus and Playkin
- No. of employees: 100
- International presence: 12+ countries
In recent years, the workload in the Prat Brands warehouse has grown in step with its rate of expansion. Year after year, the company’s turnover has doubled, exceeding €21 million in 2020. As a result of this growth, logistics has become especially important. In its facility in Valls, Spain, more and more orders are prepared every day, reaching 600.
To cope with this growth pace, the e-commerce company decided to swap its warehouse management system (WMS) for another with more functionalities. “Our aim was to optimise all operations, particularly order picking,” says Francesc Julià, IT Manager at Prat Brands.
After replacing its management software with Easy WMS from Mecalux, the business has benefited from greater scalability and more accurate stock control, among other advantages.
Julià affirms that logistics constitutes one of the pillars of Prat Brands, since efficiency directly impacts customer satisfaction as well as the company’s reputation: “As an online shop, our challenge is to dispatch all orders as quickly as possible.”
To meet that objective, Prat Brands needed to properly organise its facility and optimise operator movements. “We were looking to avoid stockouts that would complicate order prep. We also wanted our operators to travel the shortest distances in the warehouse so that they could complete orders as fast as possible,” says Rubén Fernández, Logistics Improvement Manager.
After comparing various storage systems, Prat Brands chose Easy WMS warehouse management software from Mecalux; it decided that this WMS best adapted to its needs, since it is specifically designed to boost operations such as picking. “We saw that there were businesses in our sector that used Easy WMS and had obtained excellent results. We also found the price competitive,” says Fernández.
A day in the Prat Brands warehouse
Dumbbells, drills, chairs, electric cars and toys: all the products of the five brands that make up Prat Brands are stored in the company’s logistics centre in Valls, Spain. In recent years, the warehouse has increased its storage space — from 200 m² to 15,000 m² — as product demand has risen.
Operations in this e-commerce warehouse are very demanding. Every day, it receives an average of 300 pallets containing items used to replenish the racks or to prepare orders placed by customers. Simultaneously, operators prepare and dispatch 600 orders to be distributed to online customers.
So, how does Prat Brands manage this high volume of movements? Through digitisation: Easy WMS software from Mecalux optimises operations in the facility, in addition to monitoring the company’s 5,509 SKUs in real time.
Operators have an RF scanner that provides them with detailed instructions from the software on how to perform their tasks. It tells them, for example, where to slot the items received and which SKUs to remove from the racks to prepare an order. “Operators are a lot faster now, and they don’t make mistakes. Of course, there’s always a margin for error, but that’s gone down dramatically,” says Fernández.
Once the pallets are received, the operators read the barcodes. Easy WMS then identifies them and assigns them a location. “When distributing the goods in the warehouse, Easy WMS follows the ABC classification. Thus, for example, high-demand products are placed in the more accessible locations to streamline their entry and exit. The software also takes into account the volume of items and their ability to be stacked when deciding where to slot them,” says Fernández.
This warehouse also has a repair area for conditioning goods. When the facility receives spare parts, tools or other materials that can be used in these tasks, Easy WMS has them sent to this zone immediately.
With Easy WMS, Prat Brands now organises its merchandise more effectively, an improvement that has had an effect on all warehouse operations. With detailed monitoring of the products, operators can locate them easily and prepare orders more quickly.
In terms of order picking, Easy WMS tells the operators where to locate the items they need and how many to remove. These workers travel about the warehouse with a cart in which they place the goods. These are then packaged, labelled and loaded on the delivery lorry.
Warehouse synced with carriers
Dispatch is a critical operation in the Prat Brands warehouse. It requires careful planning to ensure that all orders are distributed on time. “We dispatch a large number of orders from our facility every day, so we have to package them quickly, group them by transport route and create a label for each one,” says Xavi Camañas, Head of Logistics at Prat Brands.
To facilitate all these processes, the company has implemented Multi Carrier Shipping Software. This extension of Easy WMS is designed to automate dispatch management and connect the warehouse with DHL and GLS, the transport agencies that distribute the orders to customers.
The Multi Carrier Shipping Software module intervenes in three specific areas:
- Order packaging. The software guides operators in performing this task, indicating which items to package and specifying whether they should be placed in one or more boxes.
- Order labelling. All packages must be correctly labelled so that they can be identified and monitored. “The program automatically generates a label for each order. All the operator has to do is place it on the package to be delivered to the customer,” says Camañas.
- Synchronisation with transport agencies. Multi Carrier Shipping Software is integrated with DHL and GLS to communicate all the information the carriers need for delivery, such as the number of packages, weight and order volume. “The operators leave the orders at the loading docks, where they are then picked up by the carriers. Apart from that, there are no other tasks to be done,” says Camañas.
“Thanks to the Mecalux software, we’re speedier now,” says Camañas. Multi Carrier Shipping Software has provided stricter control over packaging and dispatch operations. It has also saved time, minimised errors and boosted productivity in the goods distribution process.
Optimised e-commerce logistics
“The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce. Consequently, we’ve seen a substantial increase in order numbers,” says Albert Prat, Founder of Prat Brands. The coronavirus has completely transformed consumption habits, putting online retailers to the test. The huge amount of orders to prepare, speedy order dispatch and seasonality are just some of the challenges e-commerce warehouses face on a daily basis.
With the help of Easy WMS, Prat Brands has been able to optimise all resources in its facility with a twofold objective in mind: to serve all its customers on time and bolster its growth. The management software controls the location and status of the goods. Moreover, it sends operators instructions on how to prepare each task with the utmost efficiency. “We expect to keep growing in the future, expanding our logistics facility and even opening new warehouses in Spain and other parts of Europe,” says Prat.
We’re thrilled with Easy WMS from Mecalux because it’s provided us with more accurate control over stock and over movements in our facility. By gaining in efficiency, we’ve enhanced our logistics processes considerably. Plus, the software is really intuitive; our operators have adapted well and are getting the most out of it.