Goodwill’s WMS Enables Business and Mission Success

April 14, 2014
This human services agency took an approach to logistics automation that not only improves productivity but also empowers disabled and non-English-speaking employees.

Goodwill Denver provides job training, career development and employment opportunities for Coloradans in need, including those with disabilities. It helps them achieve self-sufficiency, dignity and hope by employing them in Goodwill’s retail operations, comprised of 27 retail locations, 18 donation centers, three warehouses and the Goodwill e-commerce site. These retail operations bring in proceeds that together with donor contributions, fund Goodwill’s programs.

The retail operations accept donated items that are sorted and inspected. Items in sellable condition are re-distributed to a retail store, an outlet store or to, Goodwill’s own e-commerce site.

The remainder is sold as salvage or scrapped. These operations used to be paper-based, with hand-written orders, but as donations increased it became increasingly challenging for people using this methodology to keep up with the volume. Goodwill Denver recognized that an automated, mobile WMS might help them be more efficient than their labor-intensive, manual processes, and that they could better collect and process donation trend and inventory tracking data across all donation centers, retail stores and warehouses. This would help them increase inventory turnover and better serve their community.

But considering that community includes many employed by their facilities, Goodwill needed technology to help these people be more successful. Ease of use for employees would be important because of Goodwill’s commitment to providing employment opportunities for those with disabilities, those who cannot read and those who speak another language.

Goodwill worked with DecisionPoint Systems, Inc., a California company that designed a mobile warehouse management system (APEXWare) with a “smart” interface.  It allows these employees to process donations, track inventory, maximize warehouse space and eliminate inaccurate paperwork.  The system supports Spanish and has been deployed across 50 Goodwill Denver locations, including donation centers, retail stores, outlet stores, warehouses, recycling centers, trailer storage yards and an e-commerce center. The client/server mobile architecture integrates bar code data capture with wireless communication technology.

Donation center employees with tablet computers accept and process donations. All items are labeled with a bar code and recorded into the WMS.

Outbound donations are scanned as they are loaded onto trucks for delivery to one of Goodwill Denver’s warehouses. Donations are also accepted directly from donors at retail stores.

Retail store employees use both computers with tethered bar code scanners and ruggedized handheld computers to manage inventory. Retail employees can also place orders from the warehouse using the system.

Warehouse employees use ruggedized mobile handheld computers to coordinate the shipping and receiving of donations as well as to perform put-away and cycle counting functions.

As a result, Goodwill Denver has improved efficiencies and achieved the productivity essential to keeping up with their increased volume of donations. Other benefits include:

  • Immediate donation trend visibility and inventory tracking across all of Goodwill Denver's donation centers, retail stores and warehouses;
  • Increased inventory turnover;
  • Increased data accuracy and reduced errors due to paperwork elimination;
  • Maximized warehouse space utilization reducing the overall total need for warehouse space;
  • Increased seasonal goods accounting due to the flexibility built into the system. Goods can easily be pulled from the warehouses back into the retail stores to be sold during the appropriate season;
  • Improved high value, e-commerce item tracking resulting in reduced losses.

“This system has helped to streamline our processes and in turn, plays a key role in helping Goodwill achieve our mission to help inspire hope one person at a time,” concludes Randy Dohne, v.p. of operations for Goodwill Denver.

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