Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
In terms of distribution center logistics, the company had to make a few changes to accommodate two separate "seasons" of merchandise. As Scott explains, there's an imaginary line down the warehouse floor that separates the two businesses. Based on the season, the line moves in one direction or the other to give either Venus or WinterSilks a bigger share of warehouse space.
The company has what Scott terms a "dynamic picking floor." One shelf may have swimwear tops today and swimwear bottoms next week.
Here's how the order-processing flow works: Goods (SKUs) are kept on the picking floor (floor 1), and reserve stock is kept on floor 2. Using state-of-the-art, handheld radio frequency scanners, warehouse staffers scan the box of goods and then scan the location and the barcodes on the boxes. Says Scott, "As a box of goods is moved to a shelf, we scan the barcode on the box and scan the shelf where it's placed. The computer then knows it's there, and it directs the pickers to that location for picking." Orders are released for picking by the computer in groups designed to be picked together.
Orders are pulled from the picking floor in batches of 20, taken to a packing station, sent by conveyor to the weighing station and then put onto an outbound truck. (The company mostly ships by UPS or U.S. Postal Service.) Orders received by 2 p.m. EST are shipped the same day. Picking bins are restocked from the upstairs reserve bins at night.
Using this system the company achieves an enviable 99.5-percent order fill rate.
Handling Orders Year-round
Venus always has operated its own call center. Its Jacksonville 100-seat center now is staffed year-round to handle orders and customer service for both catalogs.
The number of telephone representatives still fluctuates somewhat, but not nearly as much as it used to, says Scott. For instance, he says, "During the month of August, we have a lull. Conversely, there's an overlap in volume in January as swimwear gets an early start from resort-season purchases."