Apr 13, 2022

WMS Upgrade Scales Retail And Direct To Customer Fulfillment with Get Jack Black’s Tony Whyte

“We’re very environmentally focused. We have an environmental pillar as one of our strategic pillars.We want to reduce the amount of paper being used in our operations. Right now, prior to this week, we printed two or three pages per order. And we had people manually picking orders and checking off the boxes making sure that the right products were picked and so forth. So we’ve gotten away from that.We are reducing our paper usage down to zero with web order picking and packing.”-Tony Whyte, Group Director of Operations & Supply Chain, JackBlack

 

Full transcript

Francis Adanza:

Welcome to the Down to Freight podcast where we sit down with transportation, logistics and supply chain subject matter experts to discuss digital transformation projects. I’m the host of the show, Francis Adanza, and it’s a pleasure to welcome Tony Whyte, Group Director of Operations and Supply Chain for Jack Black. Tony, it’s great to have you here today.

Tony Whyte:

Thanks, Francis. Great to be here.

Francis Adanza:

Awesome. Thank you. So for those of us who are not familiar with Jack Black, can you tell us a little bit about the company?

Tony Whyte:

Sure. Francis.  Jack Black, is a Texas born and raised company that started back in 2000. So it’s just about 21 years old this year. We’re a small team with a big entrepreneurial spirit. It’s the number one men’s skincare brand in the country. We typically sell our products, personal care products for men, to retailers, such as Nordstrom, Ulta, Sephora, Dillards, and also online on our website, getjackblack.com.

We have really satisfied a need that was out there that didn’t exist, the solution that didn’t exist back in 2000, which is really catering to men’s needs. The needs of the modern man.  Stay close to our customers, and we really listened to what they need. So our new launches or new products that we bring out every year are catering to that target audience of men between the ages of 18 to 34. And beyond that as well. And women tend to come along and steal the products too from their guy and really enjoy using those products. But yeah, we’re a company that’s growing fast. And we’re trying to use technology to help us grow efficiently.

Francis Adanza:

That’s awesome. I typically use whatever my wife puts in the shower, but I’m going to have to give Jack Black a try.

Tony Whyte:

Definitely give it a tr, Francis, you’ll be hooked.

Francis Adanza:

Sounds good. So tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for Jack Black.

Tony Whyte:

Sure, I’m the Group Director of Operations and Supply Chain, joined Jack Black back in 2018. Really enjoy working for the company. It’s a dynamic company. We have a very, you know, close knit team here. I formerly worked in personal care with Amway in Michigan back in early 2000s. I moved to food for a number of years in Grand Rapids, Michigan also, a company called Roskam Baking Company, and then went to automotive. So I’ve been in four different industries. I really enjoyed the personal care industry. So I’m glad to be back in this. It’s really a sweet spot for me.

Francis Adanza:

Sweet, we’ll definitely have a wealth of knowledge and experienc. So we are here to talk about digital transformation. Is there a recent project or a current project you’d like to share?

Tony Whyte:

There is. It’s something actually we’re still going through. But we started implementing a WMS system, warehouse management system, back about this time last year, right around the time COVID hit. We wanted to get really into the next century. I guess you would say we’re a little bit behind the curve. So we wanted to get into a WMS system that could allow us to reduce the amount of paperwork in our warehouse to help us be more efficient in moving product around, receiving it in so forth. And it has to be integrated with our ERP system, which is Microsoft Dynamics NAV. So we found one, it’s called ACE Warehousing. And we’ve been implementing it for the last year or so, trying to fine tune in as we go. We’ve had some obstacles along the way, but we are working up and running, and we feel like we’re more efficient than we were before we launched the solution.

Francis Adanza:

Fantastic. definitely sounds like an important implementation for a rapidly growing company. Specifically, what was the problem you were trying to solve with the WMS?

Tony Whyte:

Absolutely, yes, Jack Black has been growing double digits for several years, where web presence has been strong and stronger, especially over the last couple years. We have OTC products, over the counter products, that are considered drugs because they have an SPF in the products. Those products are Sun Guard, Pit Boss, which is a deodorant to lip balms that we use for our lips and protection against the sun also, and Double-Duty Moisturizer, which has also got SPF in there. So anything that has a sunblock is considered a drug.

So we had to make sure we were compliant with FDA requirements. And part of that is full lock control tracking. So if we had an issue and in the market, and we had to do a recall, we were able to pinpoint where all of that inventory went. So we could pull it all back if necessary. So we wanted that full lock control tracking. In order to do that, we needed to have a systematic way of doing it, and be able to control it with handheld scanners in our warehouse across our operations. So we put this solution into place, and we’ve been working through it over the last nearly a year.

Francis Adanza:

Sweet. Compliance is always important. Besides the regulatory benefits, why else was this important to your business?

Tony Whyte:

Interestingly, we were planning on very quick and strong web growth, because we supported their website with a lot of media and also with advertising. So unbeknownst to us, when COVID hit, everybody switched to e-commerce. I know you’re very familiar with that. That’s the thing that happened last year. Web orders doubled in- from one month over to next in March last year when it hit. And it’s continued to say, very strong way ahead the previous year.

We wanted to get technology that worked for us. So now we were in a situation, okay, just technologies in our hands, how do we make sure it helps us to become more efficient, in addition to the compliance and also to be able to support our customers. Our customers require us to turn orders around fast. Those who orders from an Amazon or Walmart online, you’re getting it same day, next day, two days from now, if it’s in stock. We want to be that kind of a company to turn orders around fast. We’re also very environmentally-focused. We have an environmental pillar as one of our strategic pillars. We want to reduce the amount of paper being used in our operations. Right now we- or prior to this, we printed the two or three pages per order. And we had people manually picking orders and checking off the boxes, making sure that the right products were picked and so forth.

So we’ve gotten away from that. And we are reducing our paper usage down to zero with web order picking and packing. The other piece of it is controlling the inventory. It’s a compliance thing with FDA, but also, internally, we want to be perfect on our inventory control. So we [inaudible 0:07:40] each receipt that we get in. Anytime we move a product in our warehouse, and we pick an order pack, and ship the order or count the inventor,  we use a handheld scanner, so it’s all systematic. There’s no paper anymore. So we’re very excited that we’re able to do that. And save money and save the environment as we go along. Awesome.

Francis Adanza:

So I can definitely see where this would add tremendous value. What would you say were the key areas of impact on the business?

Tony Whyte:

I think being able to support the web growth was huge for us, Francis, with the volume doubling month over month due to COVID, and people moving to e-commerce, that was the biggest impact. We’re able to handle more orders more systematically or accurately. And secondly, we were able to really cut out extra steps along the way that people would be slowed down by. In addition to that, we did a full physical inventory using the handheld scanners as well. So [inaudible 0:09:07] was a very long drawn out process. So we definitely had positive impact on the business with that. And then we- during our peak holiday season, which is typically Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the way up to Christmas Eve, we were able to get more orders out faster due to this technology. So that really helped us impact the business positively, I would say.

Francis Adanza:

Amazing. It definitely sounds like you streamlined things to get a huge uptick in efficiency as well as reducing waste.

Tony Whyte:

Definitely.

Francis Adanza:

So based on your recent lesson learned for those thinking about a similar implementation, what advice would you give so people can make new mistakes?

Tony Whyte:

Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully they don’t make the same mistakes we did. Hope you learn little bit from what I want to tell you. We came across glitches in production. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch them in the testing mode. And I would strongly recommend having a good three months of testing before moving to production. You may have found some of these glitches and bugs that we had to work through and troubleshoot. The good thing about is we did not stop shipping. We continue to ship as normal, even working through a launch like this. We’re very proud of that. We are a small, scrappy team of experts, but we were able to troubleshoot and keep moving as we were finding out how to fix these glitches.

The other thing is really narrow down what the operator has to do. Initially, the operator had to key in lot numbers, sometimes item numbers. We didn’t have barcodes for the lot numbers, so they had to key those in and they made mistakes. So we were able to convert them to a scannable lot code for every product that we had. And then we’re looking at making sure we have the right equipment. So we didn’t have enough handheld scanners. Well currently now that I’ve double that amount. We need that solution in more people’s hands, we have flexibility, we can ramp up. And so that that will allow you to ramp up better. They’re not a huge investment to be able to get those handheld scanners. And just make sure you have enough charging rails and so forth to be able to keep them at people’s fingertips as needed.

In addition, really looking at getting the comfort level of the operators up to speed faster. Give them the time, be patient with them during training, make sure you have the instructions very clear, one-pager. We had a lot of Spanish-speaking English as a Second Language employees here. So we translated everything to Spanish, made it a laminate instruction page. We also have them watch some videos that we made. So all of this came to crunch time when we launched. And I would recommend that you give yourself more time and train more people, get the equipment that they need and be patient

Francis Adanza:

Solid, what is next for Jack Black? And how do you think these new launches will impact your evolving technology implementation?

Tony Whyte:

We bring out exciting new products for the consumer every year. And we stay very close to our consumer. It’s like an extension of the Jack Black family. We have a very close connection with our consumers. And they’ve been telling us they need some products to support their skincare when it comes to acne. So we have an acne line coming out. It’s called the Acne Remedy series. These products are really timely, I think, because of looking at research, 50% of men between the age of 18 and 34 suffer from some form of acne. And we want to provide a full regimen for them. And women also, of course, these products can be purchased by anybody.

We’ve got three different products as part of the remedy series. A Remedy Balancing Foam Cleanser, which is really a good cleanser that you can use before going to bed or in the morning. And secondly, before going to bed, put our Overnight Repair Moisturizer on that will help again with taking care of dead skin and refining the texture, improving the skin’s brightness and clarity. And then as needed, the Remedy Clearing Spot Treatment. So it’s an acne-fighting mineral that we have in there. We’ve got some spot treatment with sulfur and it really helps dry out and allow the skin to heal.

So using these three products would be really good towards removing acne and the risk of acne. And we’re launching this product very soon just next month in April. Excited to get that out to the market. We’re able to just plug and play. With our new technology, we’re able to plug and play this type of a launch and be able to get it in our warehouse, distribution warehouse, and out to the customer pretty much same day. We’re ready to go. And that technology that we just put in with the handheld scanners and inventory control throughout our plant really allows us to do that. Where in the past, we’d have a bit of a cumbersome process to be able to get there very manually and then be able to, you know, locate the product and so forth. It would take us a lot more time.

So that’s really helped. We’ve got a couple more launches coming up. One is the NightMode Lip Treatment. We sell lip balm. We’ve been selling lip balms for 20 years, all types of flavors. This one is specifically for nighttime use. So before you go to bed, you put on your lips, that will protect them and help them from drying out and they’ll be really good the next day and a lot of people get dry mouth, dry lips. This product will help a lot with that.

And another brand extension we have is a Turbo Body Lotion. We currently have the top-selling soap line that we sell called Turbo Buddy soap. So we’re now extending that to lotion so people can have their soap in the shower and then afterwards, use the lotion and retain that wonderful scent that we have. These will hit the market in June and July this year, these two products. And like I said, we’re able to get them in our system in our warehouse and out the door really quickly with this new technology that we’ve implemented

Francis Adanza:

Awesome. I definitely have a face for radio. So I look forward to trying some of these products and hopefully get my face ready for the video version of this podcast.

Tony Whyte:

You’re a good-looking man, Francis. Don’t be [naughty? 0:15:59]. Don’t be so humble.

Francis Adanza:

Well, hey, this was incredibly informative, Tony. Thank you for sharing this story. It’s greatly appreciated.

Tony Whyte:

You bet. My pleasure. I hope people can learn from it. And it’s something I’ve been excited about and happy we continue to use technology to grow and grow efficiently.

 Francis Adanza:

Awesome.

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