Building a Tech Stack to Support and Sustain Growth
Challenge: Rapid growth, unfulfilled orders, unhappy customers
When the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a surge of growth for Unimart’s ecommerce business in 2020, its warehouse quickly spun out of control. Backlogged orders piled on the floor, employees were stressed to the point of tears, and the founder’s whole family helped pick orders every weekend just to keep the business from failing. Then, in August 2020, Unimart launched Descartes Peoplevox™ warehouse management system (WMS) with Brightpearl retail operating system. The company gained peace of mind, control over the warehouse, and a stable tech stack that could support continual growth.
In August of 2020, before implementing Descartes Peoplevox, Unimart was receiving an average of 250-300 orders per day. With only a handful of warehouse workers, the company struggled to pick orders fast enough to meet shipping deadlines. Orders were months behind schedule, and customers called every day to complain and ask when their items would arrive. The company had outgrown its old fulfillment process and needed help, fast.
“The efficiency improvements you will experience by implementing a system like Descartes Peoplevox will make the investment pay for itself many times over.”Roberto Jimenez, Chief Executive Officer, Unimart
Unimart is the largest ecommerce store in Costa Rica. Beginning with consumer electronics in 2016, Unimart continues to expand, now offering 20,000-30,000 products which include fashion, sporting goods, gifts, and more. In addition, they now offer wholesale distribution. This privately-held company plans to expand into Central America, offering the convenience of online shopping.
Solution: Greater warehouse control and scalability
After launching Descartes Peoplevox with Brightpearl retail operating system, Unimart immediately started clearing backlogged orders. Within two to three days, they shipped approximately 3,000 orders and caught up. As a result, the company experienced relief from the piles of items cluttering the warehouse, and their customers finally received their orders.
Next, Unimart leveraged Descartes Peoplevox’s organizational tools to rearrange warehouse inventory. According to Jimenez, “We felt we needed to take control of our warehouse rather than the other way around. With Peoplevox, everything is tracked. It creates a trail for every single item which makes the team accountable for their actions and reduces errors.” Unimart used the new WMS to group items by size rather than by type. Not only did the reorganization save space, but it also reduced average order fulfillment time by 54%, down from 48 hours to 22 hours per order.
In addition, the company streamlined order processing and fulfillment workflows to ensure every order was picked correctly and shipped on time, every time. Brightpearl’s integration with Unimart’s webstores automatically pulled all the orders into one place and organized them. Then, the Brightpearl/Descartes Peoplevox integration fed all the orders into the WMS. From there, warehouse workers began using guided pick paths to eliminate picking errors and greatly increase efficiency. The new warehouse process resulted in happy customers, sustainable growth, and helped contribute to a 90% increase in revenue from 2020 to 2022 as average order value increased.
By building a scalable technology stack, Unimart positioned itself to continue growing, using tech as a competitive advantage. Jimenez stated, “Now we’re able to handle volume, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to grow in this market relative to other players. Because what happens is, competitors break down. They cannot handle the volume [of orders] because they don’t have the right tools. But we do.”
With Descartes Peoplevox and Brightpearl to support its growth strategy, Unimart intends to expand its footprint into Central America in the coming year.
100% Picking Accuracy
By entering the location of every item as it enters the warehouse and scanning every item picked, Unimart achieves 100% picking accuracy and ensures that each customer receives the right item, on time, every time.
90% Revenue Growth
By using a stable and scalable warehouse tech stack, Unimart solves fulfillment problems, ensures customer satisfaction, and continues to grow. This has helped to drive a 90% increase in Q2 2022 revenue over Q2 2020.
54% Faster Fulfillment
With the new system, workers reduced the median fulfillment time per order from 48 hours to 22 hours. Managers use dashboard metrics to hold workers accountable for their productivity, helping them set and achieve fulfillment goals.
0% Backlogged Orders
Today, Unimart’s fulfillment process easily keeps pace with incoming orders. Instead of buckling under backlogged orders as they did in 2020, the organization now maintains a 0% backlogged orders status.
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