Operations & Fulfillment: Fulfilling the Promise of E-Commerce
A Whole New Fulfillment Operation
"Getting the facility up and running in about six months was challenging on a number of levels," recalls Fortnum. Not only did Belk have to open the distribution center and train employees on the day-to-day operations quickly, it had to install a new order management system that would split the fulfillment of orders between the two facilities. Prior to the the new facility in Jonesville, the Pineville center processed all categories of e-commerce merchandise. Now home and shoe orders are being fulfilled at the Jonesville facility, while everything else is handled at the Pineville center. So if a customer buys both shoes and apparel from Belk.com, the retailer's new "Distributed Order Management" system, implemented in partnership with Manhattan Associates, is able to correctly and seamlessly communicate and split the order between the two facilities.
Wha's more, the new order management system will help facilitate another initiative in Belk's direct-to-consumer business. Launching in early 2013, Belk will have a new vendor-direct program that enables customers' orders that include merchandise not inventoried in one of Belk's fulfillment centers to be fulfilled and shipped directly by vendors. With the functionality of its order management system, vendors will receive order requests and will be able to act as extensions of Belk's own fulfillment centers.
"This program will give us the opportunity to expand upon the sizes, styles and product categories we already have on our website today," Kiger says. "We will fulfill orders from our Pineville or Jonesville facilities, as well as directly from our vendor partners, enabling us to offer a broader, more dynamic product assortment to customers.
"Currently, we may offer consumers a particular men's style shoe in regular sizes from seven to 12 only. But now, if we choose, we can offer additional fringe sizes such as 13, 14 or 15 of the same style shoe without having to stock the additional sizes in-house."