Chris Elliott, Consulting Manager, Supply Chain
While major national booksellers have shuttered retail outlets as they try to compete with Internet giants, Half Price Books has seen a remarkable 21st century growth spurt. With 130 stores in 17 states, Half Price Books is the largest family-owned chain of new and used bookstores in the United States. They also operate a wholesale subsidiary, Texas Bookman.
Poised to take advantage of opportunities, like online sales, Half Price Books understood there would be some growing pains. They needed to ensure they were meeting the fulfillment needs of their stores while meeting customer expectations online. To make this happen, Half Price Books simply could no longer run their warehouse with manual processes. They needed inventory visibility and to transition into the digital age.
Half Price Books required a warehouse management solution that would help it manage its supply chain, inventory, labor, and more.
Growth Requires Innovation
In 2010, Half Price Books’ 127,000sq.ft. central distribution center in Dallas implemented its first warehouse management system (WMS), Manhattan SCALE.
Before that, Half Price Books relied on a privately developed distribution and inventory system to automate the application of allocation schemes and other distribution processes.
The solution fell short of true inventory visibility for the chain and lacked the ability to support increased desires for more reporting capabilities.
The Manhattan SCALE implementation brought Half Price Books into the technology age. This warehouse management system served as the cornerstone to streamlined supply chain operations.
The company had inventory visibility that was needed to distribute books to its stores, as well wholesale trade customers its services through its Texas Bookman wholesale division and increased reporting capability throughout the chain.
In addition to growing its retail store footprint, Half Price Books also increased the number of SKUs, or stock keeping units, it carried and the breadth and depth of products it sold as the retail market evolved. Their expanded inventory grew to include impulse items like small electronics, coffee mugs, t-shirts, puzzles, board games, and even pocket knives and mints.
By 2017, Half Price Books’ growth began pushing the boundaries of its central distribution center. Since the bookseller owned its facility, it preferred to stay put. Half Price Books made the decision to maximize its existing space to improve capacity. This meant re-tooling and scaling the building to support its expanding inventory and growing number of retail locations.
“Our current distribution center configuration was going to run out of capacity because our storage was maxed out,” says Eric James, Half Price Books’ vice president of supply chain and logistics.“The current capacity could support 137 stores, and we had just opened up store number 130.”
The bookseller needed a better way to store more product in its already-crowded central distribution center, as well as a more-efficient and ergonomically-correct way to distribute product to their stores. On the back end, Half Price books still wanted to use its existing WMS, even if the system needed customization to work with the more efficient processes and a reconfigured warehouse.
Download the case study to learn how Half Price Books boosted their efficiency with innovative technology.