F. Curtis Barry & Co.

How Will You Provide Your CEO's Favorite Reports?
August 4, 2009

You've just spent four months doing your homework to replace your aging call-center and order management system. You've gathered user requirements, written an request for proposal, gotten capable vendors to bid on it, conducted demos and selected the finalist. Yet there's one more activity that, if not done superbly, will shake management’s confidence that replacement of the old system will go smoothly. 

15 Ways to Reduce Warehouse Expenses
April 7, 2009

At the recent National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Las Vegas, Curt Barry, president of the Richmond, Va.-based multichannel operations and fulfillment consultancy F. Curtis Barry & Co., presented 15 tips on how to reduce expenses in the warehouse. Here's a rundown of his presentation:

My Site-to-Store Delivery Experience
February 24, 2009

Although it's been a while since last Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of ordering an Xbox online at that time and thought the whole learning exercise would be worth sharing with you.

Achieving a Single Version of the Truth
December 16, 2008

How many times does this happen in your company? You go to a meeting about sales performance, and marketing says it thinks sales are up 3.5 percent. But the merchants disagree and say sales are up 6.3 percent. The specific numbers in this example aren’t important; the point is the two figures aren’t close. And that’s the reality in most companies today.

Special Report: Vendor Relations
December 1, 2008

Of all the strategies for reducing costs in your catalog business, vendor compliance programs may be the most underdeveloped. A well thought out, formal vendor compliance policy can reduce warehousing and freight costs, speed up order processing, and lead directly to increased customer satisfaction. To achieve this, you must spell out your requirements and chargebacks for vendor noncompliance. Without a formal vendor compliance policy, the warehouse has no recourse but to absorb both direct and hidden costs for noncompliance. Without compliance, it’s impossible for multichannel merchants to implement advanced supply chain systems (ASNs), just-in-time inventory, source marking and ticketing, or radio frequency identification programs.

Outsourcing to Save Call-Center Costs
November 18, 2008

I’ve always been a proponent of in-house call centers, especially as a former manager of one. But times are tough … and changing. Every company today is looking for ways to save money without hurting sales and customer service. As the pressure on businesses to dramatically reduce costs intensifies, look to domestic or offshore outsourcing of some or all call-center and data entry functions as a way to improve your bottom line. Companies can outsource these functions to avoid using capital for new order management and telephone systems. One of our clients recently outsourced 300,000 phone calls offshore, resulting in a substantial reduction in

From the Dark Side of Productivity, Part 2 of 2
October 14, 2008

This month, in the final part of our two-part series examining the potential pitfalls of improving productivity by cutting costs, I provide several takeaway pointers to help your catalog/multichannel business make these changes with as little “pain” as possible. (For part 1, click here.) There are lessons we can take away from the two stories referenced in part 1, and you should consider them when you’re looking for ways to improve productivity and cut costs: 1. What’s the effect on the customer? Think about the reaction most people will have when reading the Ann Taylor story. Why would anybody want to work in retail?

From the Dark Side of Productivity, Part 1 of 2
September 16, 2008

Due to the nature of what we do as a fulfillment consulting firm, we spend much of our time helping clients improve productivity and reduce costs. We must be ever mindful of the negative side — the “dark side” — of productivity projects. That’s what happens if we don’t take the human factor into account. As someone with 30 years of experience in industrial engineering, I can tell you there’s no way to achieve long-term success in a re-engineering project without considering the effect it’ll have on people. This week, in the first installment of a two-part series on the negative side effects associated

4 Tips for Avoiding IT Project Waste
August 19, 2008

Management often bemoans the fact that IT projects fail to be delivered on time and within budget. And the truth is, the IT spending waste that occurs in our industry is at times mind-boggling. My firm has four clients — ranging in size from $7 million to $650 million in sales — all struggling with the same schedule and budget problems as they attempt to implement new order management and warehouse management systems. Another client invested $350,000 with one of the industry’s leading order management system companies. But after a failed implementation, the client backed off the project. What’s at the root of this

6 Pointers for Running an Effective Supervisor Training Program
July 22, 2008

In consulting with a client recently on improving customer service, the client was concerned that the company’s service didn’t meet its expectations and goals. As we performed the assignment, the most serious problem to surface was that the supervisors were relatively inexperienced and hadn’t managed people very long. The supervisory team included anyone from a first-time supervisor to someone with one year’s experience. Adding to the problem, this call center flexes from 100 seats to 190 seats for six months of the year. You can ask the obvious question: Why doesn’t this company hire and retain experienced supervisors? But there’s a deeper