Operating in Style
After working for several years in the field of styling and fashion, Joelle Desaulniers created the eponymous JOELLE Collection. The Quebec-based company offers unique dresses, sweaters, jumpsuits, and jewelry, among other items, through a thriving online business and a boutique in Trois-Rivieres. Another boutique in Place Ste-Foy is slated to open later in 2023.
Launched in 2016 in Quebec, Canada, JOELLE Collection sells quality, stylish women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry online and in two retail stores.
The Descartes Systems Group Inc. offers on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions that address productivity, performance, and security for logistics-intensive businesses.
“JOELLE’s mission is to break the rules of fashion by putting women at the heart of our priorities in the making of our clothes,” says Isabelle Courchesne, director of operations with JOELLE Inc. The goal is to allow women to develop self-confidence and flourish, so they can evolve into the best version of themselves, she adds.
As the popularity of JOELLE Collection grew, its operations needed to keep pace. Management was looking to make several changes, including automating more inbound processes, increasing the company’s ability to pick and pack more orders, and reducing the risk of fulfillment errors.
In addition, JOELLE Collection’s inventory system needed to synchronize with the company’s Shopify sales platform, so it would accurately reflect actual warehouse inventory to online customers.
In late 2021, Courchesne and her colleagues started assessing whether Descartes’ Peoplevox e-commerce warehouse management solution and ShipRush multi-carrier e-commerce parcel shipping solution would match the company’s business model and improve JOELLE Collection’s fulfillment processes.
Improving Warehouse Operations
The management team at JOELLE Collection had seen a success story about another Peoplevox customer, also in the direct-to-consumer fashion and apparel industry, says Troy Graham, vice president of business development for Descartes.
Descartes applies a scanning-based approach to daily warehouse operations that helps ensure transaction accuracy and confirms that inventory numbers between storefronts and warehouse operations are consistent, helping to prevent overselling.
The solutions also can automate e-commerce operations and integrate multiple sales channels and marketplaces. Retailers and direct-to-consumer brands also can benefit from e-commerce-focused warehousing technology, parcel shipping capabilities and mobile fulfillment solutions.
The Peoplevox warehouse management solution, which more than 100 companies globally have successfully deployed, is geared to help mid-market, direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands manage inventory and accurately fulfill orders.
“Peoplevox helps companies deliver on the promise to customers to fulfill their orders on time and accurately the first time,” Graham says.
Many companies that deploy Descartes operate across multiple sales channels, including their own websites and brick-and-mortar stores, as well as on Amazon and other marketplaces. To keep customers happy, they need to avoid selling items that aren’t actually in stock.
This can happen in several ways. For instance, if a company places an order for 100 products but receives only 96, it still might record 100 to inventory. By working with Peoplevox to barcode scan each product into the warehouse, the company knows what’s actually in inventory, limiting the risk of selling items it doesn’t have.
Lost and Found
Peoplevox also can help companies locate products they didn’t know they had. This can occur when products have been shelved incorrectly and are seemingly lost.
The system also can be configured to prioritize certain orders, such as those that need to be filled within a specific time frame. Because Peoplevox automatically generates shipping labels when orders are dispatched, it cuts the overall time required to process an order.
Additionally, through its reporting capabilities, Peoplevox can help shippers assess the performance of their warehouses. The reports can show information such as the number of orders processed each day, among other metrics.
Reports can show employee productivity as well. In many growing e-commerce companies, the productivity between pickers can vary widely, and yet management has no way of uncovering the differences, Graham says. Once a company has this information, it can decide if, for instance, more training is needed or if some types of orders generally encounter roadblocks. “It’s like a fuel gauge in a car,” Graham says.
The reporting tools also can help managers assess how much order volume can grow before they need to bring on additional workers.
Growing Shipping Volume
Descartes’ ShipRush solution, which JOELLE Collection also implemented, is a widely integrated and quick-to-deploy multi-carrier parcel and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping platform. It allows businesses to grow their shipping volume through advanced automation capabilities, a business rules engine, and a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) for rating, shipping and tracking.
The system connects e-commerce companies with the parcel and LTL carriers of their choice, using their own negotiated rates or rate discounts available through the platform.
Two common shipping challenges are picking the right carrier and determining optimal service level combinations. In some warehouses, it’s not unusual for packages to ship before anyone has checked how quickly they need to arrive at their destination. That can mean shippers pay for faster service than they actually need.
The Shiprush system leverages business rules to identify an optimal combination of carrier and service level combination. Graham provides an example: A company sells T-shirts directly to consumers, so its packages tend to be lightweight and headed for residential addresses. ShipRush can identify the transportation method best suited for these types of packages.
In 2021, before it began working with Descartes, JOELLE Collection had implemented a new inventory management system. This helped the team get comfortable with the basics of system implementation projects, which helped speed the process of implementing Descartes’ warehouse management and parcel shipping solutions, Courchesne says. In addition, the company’s warehouse had been mapped, and it already had all the necessary equipment.
In part because these steps had already occurred, JOELLE Collection and Descartes went from training to implementation to full production in about four months. The solutions went live in September 2022.
Ready, Set, Implement
A typical Peoplevox implementation starts with a kickoff call, Graham says. Next steps include preparing for implementation, migrating data from legacy systems, configuring the system to customer workflows and business rules, and then training from end to end.
After JOELLE Collection selected Descartes, the two companies held weekly training sessions focused on helping users get comfortable with the software. It doesn’t take long—often, new employees can become productive in less than one hour, Graham says.
After training is completed, Descartes transitions to the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase. At this point, the customer is hands-on and using the solution to validate its use cases.
When all integrations have been tested, planning starts for “Go Live.” Descartes supports customers through their go-live date and then for a few weeks after that. This helps ensure everything is running smoothly and the client is maximizing the solution’s efficiency.
Together, PeopleVox and ShipRush help direct-to-consumer brands like JOELLE Collection deliver quality customer service by focusing on several critical fulfillment practices, Graham says. These include confirming every order, shipping each order on time, even during peak seasons; shipping the right items in the right quantities to the right customers; and providing customers with visibility into the status of their orders, until they’ve been received.
Reaping the Benefits
The Descartes solutions enable JOELLE Collection to ship three times more parcels daily with the same number of employees. “It gave us real-time visibility over our inventory levels and allowed us to receive additional inventory in real time,” Courchesne says.
“The system also helps us produce multiple operational reports and evaluate employee performance while controlling operations remotely,” she adds.
Casebook Study: Always in Fashion
JOELLE Collection, a Quebec-based fashion brand, has grown substantially since its 2016 launch. A lack of manpower and an increase in inventory levels prompted management to consider automating more inbound processes. The company also wanted to boost its ability to pick and pack as many orders as possible and to reduce the risk of fulfillment errors. Any inventory system it chose would need to synchronize with the company’s Shopify sales platform to accurately reflect actual warehouse inventory to online customers.
Together, two systems from Descartes—the Peoplevox e-commerce warehouse management solution and the ShipRush multi-carrier e-commerce parcel shipping solution—enable JOELLE Collection to provide accurate and timely order fulfillment and customer service.
The same number of warehouse employees now process three times the number of packages they previously were able to handle, while operational reports provide insight into warehouse performance.