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Big Lots: Transportation Logistics and E-Commerce Shipping
Name: Mingda Xu, Sonte Burk
Company: Big Lots
Overview of Use Case
Big Lots is impacting logistics and e-commerce shipping with Alteryx. By blending receipt and freight data, they can deliver detailed transportation visibility and logistics performance to merchant groups for the first time, while uncovering cost savings initiatives. Additionally, the team at Big Lots has leveraged Alteryx to optimize parcel routes to drive cost and time savings.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
Transportation Logistics Optimization
As the Big Lots eCommerce platform continued to expand, the team recognized the opportunity to increase efficiencies related to inbound transportation logistics. The primary goals were to provide visibility into vendors’ transportation performance, and to also report on year over year performance KPIs to determine what processes could be further optimized for time or cost savings. Both posed a challenge as vendor performance data was found in multiple data sources and year over year comparisons were derived from incompatible freight and PO receipt data.
Prior to adopting Alteryx, Big Lots used Excel and Access to manually create records, blend data sets, and consolidate reports, which took the team nearly three days to complete.
Shipping Efficiencies & Parcel Routing
Another eCommerce process that wasn’t as efficient as it should be was the parcel routing and shipping process. Most retailers incorporate the cost of shipping into the retail price of their products to recoup the services margin. Big Lots, however, offers the same price for items online as well as in stores without including shipping investments into the retail price of products. Because of this, they needed to dedicate time and resources to address services costs.
Before Alteryx, a transportation report would indicate if the current parcel route is the most effective based on package dimensions. This process, which took two to three hours every morning to re-route packages, was riddled with inefficiencies.
Describe the working solution
The transportation logistics optimization process that used to take days to finish is now running a few seconds. The data coming into the tool is a little over 103K records and the data coming out is 105K. This tool was able to identify over 2000 POs buried in data cells in just a few seconds.
The parcel routing process was very simple to get started. The team leveraged order data to better understand which items are going into each package. An item table provided the critical dimensions of each item so that they could calculate the size of the box. Prior to Alteryx, each package had the same length and height. Now, the team can view different lengths and heights to easily determine which mode is optimal based on the package dimensions.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
It’s not hard to see that the first gain from Alteryx is the time saved. The inbound logistics optimization process that originally took up to three days to complete is now done in less than ten minutes with Alteryx.
Additionally, using the new supply chain visibility, the team was able to identify cost savings opportunities of up to 11% of the total inbound freight cost and spend.
As far as optimized parcel routing, what used to take 2-3 hours each day now takes less than 30 minutes with Alteryx. The team is now able to explore impediments of costing service and allows them to route using accurate patterns. They are saving a whole percentage point in cost verses a half of a percent before. They were able to go from a 98.5 on time percentage in 2016 to 99.4 percent on time peak in 2017 with Alteryx in Big Lots’ tool box.
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