H&B Supplies Case Study:
Custom software and iOS apps for warehouse inventory and stock control, plus ecommerce website
"We've seen a great ROI from [Switchplane's] software development work."
Inventory and stock control system; iOS apps for picking, packing, replenishment and goods in; ecommerce website; trade accounts; price list API
H&B Supplies is one of the UK's largest distributors of fine fragrance and premium brand skincare products. They have been established for over 30 years and supply large retail organisations, independents, wholesalers, and online retailers. The business is rapidly expanding across Europe and worldwide.
Switchplane has been working with H&B Supplies since 2006 and over this time we have gained a thorough understanding of their business processes and systems, enabling us to provide support and suggestions wherever needed.
Over this period, we have created a fully customised inventory system for stock control, iOS apps for picking, packing, replenishment, and goods in processes, and an ecommerce website with trade accounts for online ordering.
The custom inventory system that Switchplane has built for H&B Supplies enables warehouse staff and administrators to see the movement of stock within the warehouse.
The browser-based inventory application allows users to see the location and quantities of stock within the warehouse, with breakdowns of particular types of stock at those locations for full traceability. It is also possible for some stock to be restricted, which requires it to have special treatment by warehouse staff.
The inventory system is able to flag items requiring a pallet drop and take into account the size of stock boxes and the size of the shelves that are in use, to ensure that maximum warehouse capacity is used at all times. This is particularly vital in busy periods, such as in the lead up to Christmas.
Users can also see their sales orders and recent transactions, and there is an integration with Microsoft Navision to assist the sales team.
"Our latest functionality has really reduced human error, speeded up the whole process and enabled us to reduce temp staff requirements at Christmas."
Switchplane has created a number of different apps which can be used by staff in the warehouse to maximise their efficiency, which is really important when there is a high turnover of stock and large numbers of orders to ship.
The picking and packing app directs warehouse staff to the best location for stock for a particular order, tells them how many boxes to pick, and flags if a pallet drop is required. Staff have a clear workflow to follow, which makes it easy to train temporary staff used during peak periods. Once the goods are picked, there is a separate packing workflow to verify orders and get them ready for shipping. The app integrates with the inventory software, enabling all staff to see live movements of stock within the business.
The replenishment app is also used within the warehouse to ensure picking locations remain fully stocked. It advises which locations to fill with stock, whether stock from the same pallet can be filled at the same time, finds appropriately sized stock for the various locations, and warns if a location is restricted.
Finally, the Goods In app is used to simplify and speed up the process of putting away purchase orders. Purchase orders are created in the inventory system, goods are received, a user can select what goods to put away and link these to a specific purchase order. As lines of goods are put away, this saves the data to the inventory system and makes the goods available for further processing by warehouse staff.
Switchplane has created a custom, front-end brochure website for their sales to other businesses, available in 10 languages.
Trade users from other businesses can create accounts, which will be allocated to an H&B sales person to manage. They can then log in and see H&B Supplies' latest stock and prices, filter on various categories, add these to a basket, and place an order.
Trade users can also download CSV versions of the price list for import into their own systems, or alternatively, set up an API link which automatically feeds this information into their own software.
"We've worked with Switchplane for over 15 years. The team has built our website, inventory and picking systems. Our latest 'live order picking' functionality has really reduced human error, speeded up the whole process and enabled us to reduce temp staff requirements at Christmas. So we've seen a great ROI from their software development work. We’d highly recommend the Switchplane team to any business."
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