Vera Bradley, the designer of high-end handbags and accessories, has experienced 20 to 30 percent year-over-year growth for the past five years, which has pushed the limits of its distribution capability. To meet the capacity demands to serve its 3,000-plus retail outlets and its growing online shopping operation, Vera Bradley turned to FORTE, a single-source distribution operations provider.
According to Matt Wojewuczki, vice president of Operations for Vera Bradley, FORTE greatly improved the productivity of its existing facilities with short-term plans such as facility reconfiguration and technological improvements. When it came time to build an entirely new distribution center on its 70-acre Fort Wayne, Ind., campus, it has again turned to the material handling and engineering provider.
"FORTE has been our distribution strategy consultant, engineer and advocate that has guided us through a number of changes," says Wojewuczki. "They've proved that they are and will be a great supply chain partner as we continue implementing our long-term plans."
FORTE will plan and design Vera Bradley's 190,000-square-foot operations center that will house distribution operations, information systems and material handling equipment. Vera Bradley expects to begin distribution through this new facility early next year.
To support Vera Bradley's growth until the new distribution facility is complete, the FORTE and Vera Bradley project team designed and implemented operational improvements and system reconfigurations to the existing 35,000-square-foot DC to include pick-to-light order picking. Vera Bradley is seeing the benefits from the rearrangements and technology improvements, with picking accuracy at about 99.7 percent. FORTE also assisted Vera Bradley in evaluating and selecting a WMS that fits its requirements and selecting and integrating an ERP for the new facility.
"We have collaborated with FORTE on initial phases of this new Operations Center project and are pleased with the benefits of our experience," says Wojewuczki. "We have opened up space in our facilities, made each worker significantly more productive, increased our accuracy and customer service. As our company grows, we need to be adaptive and innovative with the way we operate. FORTE is ushering us through and empowering us along the way to support our growth and facilitate sales momentum for the long term."
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