When Camping World, a retailer of RVs, RV accessories and outdoor goods, goes live with a warehouse management system (WMS) from RedPrairie a few months from now, it will be the culmination of a careful WMS selection process the retailer conducted in conjunction with Forte, a supply chain consulting firm.
“We have been undergoing a constant upgrade of our systems over the past five years as our business has grown,” says Don Smith, Camping World’s senior vice president for finance and supply chain. “About 18 months ago, we decided to upgrade our WMS and upgrade our Oracle ERP system at the same time.”
The selection process, which took about six months, was completed in a series of steps.
Step 1. Process review: “The first thing we did was review our current processes and our current systems to identify where we were deficient,” says Smith. For example, their existing system wouldn’t crossdock and wouldn’t recognise the difference between a worker on a lift truck, a reach truck or a stock picker. That difference was critical to allocating work to the right operator. “Those became features we definitely wanted in a new system,” says Smith. “We also decided that we wanted a system that would allow us to pick to a carton rather than batch pick, and could handle task interleaving.”
Step 2. Narrow the field: Now that Camping World identified the attributes it was looking for, Smith’s team began to research six vendors that seemed like a potential fit. At this point, they weren’t trying to determine a winner. Rather, they were deciding who they would ask to bid on the project. “We talked to sales people, talked to their references, and investigated their basic functionality,” says Smith. “We whittled the list down to three and sent them a formal RFP.”
Step 3. Scripted demo: Once the proposals came back, it was time to separate the real deals from the wannabes. “We created very detailed scripts and then called each vendor in for a full-day demo and Q&A session,” says Smith. “We wanted to find out whether they could meet our requirements with core functionality or with customisations, which would add to the long term cost of ownership.” Before the demos, Forte met with Camping World’s DC personnel and identified what was most important to efficient operations. That information was used to create a report card to score the demo.
Step 4. Show us the money: After the demo, one vendor was out of the running. The other two were virtually tied on the report card, including RedPrairie. Now, Camping World asked for pricing. As things worked out, both companies were close there as well.
Step 5. Go with your gut: With two vendors tied on both price and performance, Camping World looked harder at the companies and their cultures. “RedPrairie’s system was better suited to our existing infrastructure,” says Smith. “But there was also the feeling we got from the company. Culturally, we felt they were the best fit with our company. That was absolutely a key point.”
Camping World has spent the year since the selection process upgrading its ERP system. Now that’s complete, the WMS is ready to be implemented. As a result of the selection process, Smith is sure they have the right system. “The scripted demo in particular was very useful,” says Smith.