We have been shipping a high number of orders over the past few weeks, so with the warehouse firing on cylinders I thought it would be a good time to highlight our pick and ship process. KUIU has been using the same warehouse located in Vacaville, California since day one. While the team, floor space, and volume has grown considerably over the past four years, the simplicity of processes has remained the same. Efficiency and attention to detail are the keys to success in our warehouse, even though we still do many things the old fashioned way. At the helm of the operation is Laura Ojeda, who has been running a tight ship in the KUIU account since 2011.
A couple months ago I posted Following a Pack Order which focused on the pack section of the warehouse, and this week we will take a look at everything else. While the warehouse operation of any business is almost entirely behind the scenes and rarely glorified, it plays a huge roll in the customer experience. As a result of the consumer-direct business model, our warehouse team members are the last ones to touch each and every KUIU purchase before it reaches the customer. This ensures consistency in the quality of packaging and accuracy of fulfillment, but at the same time it leaves little room for error. While mistakes do happen from time to time, we feel that our warehouse crew does a remarkable job at creating a positive customer experience through timely shipping, accurate and thoughtful packaging, and prompt processing of returns.
Orders From KUIU to the Warehouse
Twice each day Laura loads a new batch of orders from KUIU’s order management system to her warehouse software. Each batch produces a printout of every new order in the system that’s ready to be pulled, packed, and shipped. As soon as a new batch of orders is printed out, they begin getting filled. Below we see an order as displayed on KUIU’s system, followed by the format in which it is printed at the warehouse.
With three dedicated bay doors in the KUIU account, new shipments of product are dropped and checked in very quickly. Once a new shipment arrives Laura and her team sort, count, and check the cartons for damage or shortages. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of the shipment. As soon as quantities and quality is confirmed, Laura relays the message to the KUIU office, at which point the inventory counts are loaded to the online system. At the same time, KUIU employees begin processing any backorders for the product. Many times, backorders for the newly arrived items begin getting filled before the cartons are even transferred to their permanent storage location on the warehouse racks. We understand that customers want their items as soon as possible, and we do everything we can to expedite fulfillment as soon as shipments land.
Below, Cecilia is pulling a Yukon Jacket to fill a backorder within hours of last week’s Chugach NX and Yukon shipment arriving.
Each order is carefully picked by hand by a warehouse employee. The worker typically takes a cart and a small stack of tickets and efficiently cruises up and down the aisles pulling multiple items for multiple orders at a time, until the cart is full. From there, the cart full of organized items and orders goes to the shipping table for packing. We use a variety of different sized grey bags and boxes, depending on the volume and contents of each order.
High Volume Shipping
Once orders have been bagged or boxed, they are placed back into a cart and wheeled to one of the four shipping stations. Each station is equipped with a scale, shipping label printer, computer, KUIU packing tape, and paperwork. This is the point at which invoices, return forms, ride-along ads, and sometimes coupons are inserted into each package. With all four stations running at once, we have the capacity to ship up to 1,200 orders in a day.
After labeling and sealing, orders are placed in a bin at the end of the table, sorted by FedEx or USPS. As soon as a bin is filled, it rolls off to the pickup area in another section of the warehouse.
We have received some criticism over the years for restrictions in making changes to orders after a certain amount of time has passed since initial placement, but many times an order has already been packed, labeled, and delivered to the parcel pickup area of the warehouse by the time a customer requests a change. Once a package has reached this stage- sometimes as soon as within an hour after placement, the order is as good as gone.
If you’ve made a return to KUIU in the past year and a half, you were likely instructed to send the item(s) to our warehouse address. Up until the Holiday season of 2013 we processed all returns at our Dixon headquarters location. As the company grew, so did the pile of weekly returns- until it was too much to handle. By having a dedicated returns employee (Carmen) and section at the warehouse, we are not only able to get refunds processed quickly, but product doesn’t need to be driven anywhere to go back into inventory. On average returns are opened, inspected, re-bagged, and labeled within 24 hours of arrival. Credits are typically issued within 48 hours of return arrival, a process that is finalized by Brenda back at the KUIU main office. Returned product is placed back into inventory in a large batch once per week.
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look into KUIU’s warehouse setting. It’s a very fast paced and hard-working portion of the business, and we hope that their dedication to accuracy and detail helps you enjoy a quality experience on your next order or return.