UK-based consumer goods distributor reaps dividends from D2C automated fulfilment solution

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Deployment of an automated direct-to-customer (D2C) fulfilment solution has resulted in a 300% increase in productivity for consumer goods distributor Ultimate Products.

An international brand house managing consumer goods brands across 12 product ranges, Ultimate Products implemented Breathe Out, a software-enabled process improvement solution from Breathe Technologies, to support a rise in D2C order volumes across its e-commerce platforms following a surge in online shopping.

According to the Oldham-based business, which works with over 300 retailers globally, this growth highlighted a requirement for a more streamlined and simplified pack and despatch process to increase efficiencies, meet different retailer requirements and manage the scale of parcels going through its warehouse.

David Bloomfield, supply-chain director at Ultimate Products, said: “Mornings in our warehouse were spent matching courier labels to invoices, then separating them by SKU, before we could even begin to pack the product.

“The repetitive and manual nature of these tasks, meant there would likely be a higher margin for error. We needed to get rid of this complexity and administrative work from our warehouse operatives, so we could increase the number of parcels packed per hour.”

Heavily reliant on paper-based systems, Ultimate Products opted to implement Breathe Out, which is designed to automate manual order fulfilment and thereby increase the number of parcels packed per hour, per operative.

By implementing the solution, Ultimate Products said it was able to seamlessly connect systems, match items to orders and parcels, and allocate parcels to the right carriers; accelerate data flows, guide operators, and increase the number of orders fulfilled per hour; and automate fulfilment validation checks to increase carrier compliance rates and minimise manual processes, significantly reducing costs associated with customer complaints and returns.

Staff training processes have been simplified making on-boarding time quicker and easier for operators to understand and execute the process

David Bloomfield, supply-chain director at Ultimate Products, said: “The most obvious and biggest benefit we have seen is the productivity gain; 300% increase in the number of parcels that can be packed in any given day. Well above our expectations for the project and we’re delighted.”

In addition, Ultimate Products said it also benefited from reduced complexity regarding staff training processes; increased sustainability by reducing the amount of paper used after removing the need to match packing notes and invoices; and near-total system error reduction.

Following deployment on Ultimate Product’s online channel, the company has since implemented Breathe’s software on its Amazon Vendor business, where it provides both seller fulfilled Prime and vendor central fulfilment services.

“Breathe Technologies has enabled us to double the number of orders we fulfil; that’s a 200% increase in productivity gains,” said Bloomfield. “The technology has dramatically improved our ability to scale up that side of our business rapidly.

“We are now working with Breathe on a wider WMS system for our wholesale business. We have learnt lessons from the Amazon Vendor solution and we are happy with the productivity gains and the technology. We now plan to have a full WMS system delivered by Breathe.”

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