Art.com is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce provider of art prints, posters and custom-framed pieces of art. Decorating many thousands of dorm room, home and office walls requires an extensive inventory. In fact, Art.com stocks millions of unique items in its vast warehouses in the US and EU.
To meet customer demand for this wide range of products, Art.com needed to replace paper-based processes to increase efficiency and productivity.
According to Bob Inman, Art.com’s Vice President of Operations, “One of the biggest challenges we had was all the paperwork.”
Art.com ships so many different items that even printing picking tickets provided a significant challenge. Inman said, “We printed lots of picking tickets and having to physically print all those picking tickets and then divvy those out to order fillers on any given day was a pretty big challenge.”
During previous holiday peak seasons, Art.com employees had been greeted by enormous stacks of pick lists. And because the company offers such a wide variety of items, Art.com cannot use barcodes. There are simply too many vendors and items. Instead, the company uses a visual process with thumbnail images of each print to help employees confirm the correct piece of art to pick for each customer.
Art.com sought a mobile-first solution to automate its unique visual pick process while streamlining data reporting back into the company’s system of record, Oracle E-Business Suite.
In Art.com’s search for a solution, speed was a priority. “We were looking for something that could integrate seamlessly under Oracle,” Inman said. “We knew if a company could do that for us, it would be a fast implementation.”
After seeing the DSI solution in action, Inman was sold: “Once you see that, you kind of get relieved and you’re going ‘Ok, these folks really know what they’re doing.’”
Art.com chose DSI’s platform and mobile-first supply chain apps because the company needed a solution that would optimize—without replacing or disrupting—existing business processes. The company implemented a personalized DSI app on the iPad that streamlines the process of getting the right product to customers on time.
“They took exactly what we did on paper and just made the paper go away,” Inman said. “The solution enhances our visual picking process with large, clear images that match up to the art print. As a result, our picking accuracy has gone up.”
With the automated process, the Art.com team can now accomplish more. Senior Picking Lead, Jeri Carr said of the solution, “Used to be the pickers would have to come in and they would have to individually sign out each batch. But now, they just jump right on an iPad, they key in their password and they’re gone.”
The DSI solution also helps Art.com reduce errors—and save valuable time the company used to spend in correcting them. Carr said, “With these batches, every once in a while a piece of paper would stick together and they’d miss a whole page of orders. But now, the orders are on the screen, they pick them one at a time and there’s no possible way of missing any product.”
In addition to reduced errors, Art.com experienced other benefits, including increased productivity. “Some of the benefits that we got through this DSI application was roughly a 5% productivity improvement,” Inman said. “That was just by order fillers being able to pick more efficiently, not having to manipulate the physical paper picking tickets like they used to have to do.”
As a result of implementing the DSI platform, Art.com now has the self-sufficiency to improve operations now and in the future. “Another big benefit that we have is if we want to tweak our process flow at any time, we have experts in house that can do that, so we’re not reliant on somebody to call and schedule an appointment to come out to make a change,” said Inman. “We sort of control our own destiny in that way, which is very, very good for us.”
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“The solution enhances our visual picking process with large, clear images that match up to the art print. As a result, our picking accuracy has gone up.” Bob Inman
Vice President of Operations, Art.com