A Healthy Bottom Line
One trend we’re seeing is as young adults want newer, faster and better computers, they’re passing their older systems to their parents, and so more of them are now getting online. So we’re gearing up for more online business.
With Internet access to information, consumers are becoming more educated. We’ve increased the amount of
information we put online, so customers can use the Web as an information tool, for instance to find out about pill sizes or product label information.
E-mail also has worked extremely well for us in communicating with existing customers, sending them offers and information.
CS: What’s the relationship between marketing and operations at Swanson?
Pirie: To maintain our high fill rate—98.2 percent—we work closely with marketing. Planning is key. We have a committee of six that meets once a week to discuss budget projections, order projections, and how many books will be mailing and when. Representatives from our call center, MIS, accounting, operations and executive management also are involved, with the intent to share information.
CS: How large a role does technology play in the operations side of your business?
Pirie: The bigger we get, the more technologically advanced we need to be. Right now, we’re in the midst of a big technology project installing radio frequency technology. This will allow paperless stock transfers and item-by-item location of products, which will enable us to better plan space requirements and track all products to consumers. It also will enable us to eliminate some physical inventory, reduce keying errors and cycle inventory more efficiently.
We also look to improve our inventory turns above eight per year, even though we’re already at a 99.6-
percent accuracy rate on inventory in the building.