STORES Magazine - April 2018 - 41
bricks-and-mortar experience and flow,"
says Omar Akilah, vice president of
product development at GrandCanals.
"Fulfillment is the differentiator when it
comes to e-tailing because it's about speed
and convenience and how quickly you can
get that item into customers' hands."
The right fulfillment strategy gets
close to the instant gratification that
many shoppers still crave, even if they're
browsing and completing their purchases
in the waiting room of their doctor's
office and not in a retail store.
With a deployment timeline of less
than five days, Grove's migration to
GrandCanals was quick and painless.
The retailer granted access through the
platform to its shipping accounts to
enable the transfer of data, and RaeStaples says they were then on their way.
"The training portion took a day or
two to get our team on board," she says.
"We wanted to show them the different
features, so they could see how many
address corrections we had that month,
where our shipments were going and who
we were mostly using." Rather than spend
hours analyzing information manually,
Rae-Staples can now pull data from the
system with a click of a button.
Fulfillment platform implementations
begin with historical data of the brand's
shipments - what's going out to customers,
where those consumers are located and
how long items spend in transit.
"That's typically data we get directly
through the carriers the companies use
for delivery," Wilcox says. The system can
then optimize that data, enabling retailers
to gain visibility into the fulfillment
process. Wilcox says it gives them answers
to their most important questions: "How
am I delivering to my customers in key
markets? What are some of the areas of
my fulfillment strategy that aren't really
matching customer expectations?"
Between the team of data scientists
at GrandCanals and the company's
technology, that historical information
can then be analyzed and opportunities to
improve identified, based on the retailer's
fulfillment strategy and its customer
Shoppers, having grown
accustomed to the fast
delivery options offered by
Amazon and other megaretailers, are less apt today
to settle for yesterday's
METRICS, MEET OPPORTUNITY
The use of Fulfillment Intelligence
Cloud allowed the Grove team to measure
critical data points and gather data that
would provide actionable insight. Due to
the platform's vastly improved reporting
over Rae-Staples's previous approach,
she says they quickly saw trends that
translated into clear opportunities.
"We noticed that most of our shipments
- over 60 percent - were going to the
East Coast," she says. With a map in hand
that identified how many shipments were
bound for key states, the team looked for
the best way to reduce shipping costs and
better service those customers that weren't
near the California warehouse.
"Grove was able to run an in-depth
analysis around our customer base,"
Rae-Staples says. An analysis was done
that covered where the brand's current
customers were located and how their
expected future growth would influence
shipments going forward. "It helped me
identify a location on the East Coast that
would help improve my time in transit
and serve our customers better," she says.
Grove subsequently opened a second
warehouse, this one in Harrisburg, Pa.
"Now our transit time to the East Coast
is three to four days," Rae-Staples says.
Breaking down the benefits and risks
of changes to the fulfillment process can
be difficult. The challenges Grove was
facing are increasingly common in today's
competitive retail environment.
"Their demand was on the East Coast
and the result wasn't just a cost scenario,"
Akilah says. Deliveries to East Coast
customers were also taking too long,
something Grove was getting feedback
on. The launch of the new warehouse not
only helped Rae-Staples reduce the total
cost of operation, it also improved the
"As retailers are looking to make these
decisions, we help from operations to
finance to procurement," Akilah says.
That ensures that brands make more
informed decisions - with more accurate
and complete data behind them. "They're
thinking about the customer experience,
not just cost drivers," he says.
FULFILLMENT INTO THE FUTURE
The success of Grove's new fulfillment
center on the East Coast has prompted
the team to look at more ways to reduce
delivery times, continue boosting
customer satisfaction and improve
operations even further. Rae-Staples
is using insight gathered through
GrandCanals to determine which next
step will help get them where they want
"We're using them to open our
third facility, which will probably be
somewhere in the middle of the country,"
she says. In addition, Rae-Staples is
exploring opportunities to broaden the
use of the Fulfillment Intelligence Cloud
platform. "We're hoping to do an overall
fulfillment analysis," she says. With
solid results already on the board, the
expanded application of the GrandCanals
tools will help Grove continue to
streamline operations and become more
Julie Knudson is a freelance business writer who
focuses on retail, hospitality and technology.
STORES April 2018 41