In the early months of 2022, we took on a massive journey which helped us learn, grow and create a meaningful impact on our supply chain with the help of technology. This blog is about that journey, the learnings and insights we collected along the way.
Before 2022, we were using a barcode scanning system at our fulfilment centres which helped us keep track of the operations. This system had a lot of functional uses however running it smoothly came with its own challenges. The system was time-consuming and not very efficient as it was dependent on a lot of manual interventions, it was not integrated with the existing ERP system, it was not mobile (handheld) enabled, so it led to a lot of inefficiencies. For example, our finance team was using a separate system to log orders, returns, refunds, etc. and the fulfilment centres were using a separate system where they updated the dispatch, delivery and other updates. Along with this the added purview of the business moved to an omnichannel model where our FCs were used more for fulfilling larger-scale of orders than ever before.
Challenges & learnings:
One of the biggest challenges was finding a system or in this case, a destination (continuing with our theme of a journey) which will cater to the needs of all the various functions involved at AgroStar like Finance, Tech, Product, Last-Mile Delivery and others. Another challenge was to ensure that this system can be integrated with the existing systems without breaking the mould or disrupting the current flow of operations. We needed something that could seamlessly plug into these systems and would simplify the current model rather than adding more complexity. During our scouting process, we visited the fulfilment centres of some of the leading Indian e-commerce brands to understand and learn from the processes currently being used by them and what can we pick up and implement at our fulfilment centres. This gave us a good idea about the type of systems that would suit our requirements. Based on this we shortlisted a few options that could work for us and right on top of that was the Pristine Fulfil system.
The next stop in this journey was about mapping out the flow of information to understand the type of design architecture that we would require to build a sustainable and long-lasting system. We first mapped out the steps that are involved right from the time a farmer places an order to product availability in our fulfilment centres to it being picked and delivered by our last mile delivery partner.
Benefits of Implementation
Despite these challenges, implementing Pristine has been a game-changer for our operations. The system has enabled us to achieve real-time visibility into our inventory and supply chain, which has helped us make data-driven decisions. We can now track our inventory levels in real-time and can make adjustments as needed to avoid stock-outs or overstocking.
With Pristine, we can track the movement of goods within our warehouses with the help of a handheld (mobile) device and ensure that products are stored and shipped in the most efficient way possible. This has helped us reduce the time it takes to pick and pack orders, which has led to faster order processing times. Another benefit of the system is that it has improved collaboration across departments. With everyone using the same system, we can now share information more easily and can work together to solve problems. For example, if our sales team receives an order that we don't have enough inventory to fulfil, they can now easily communicate with our procurement team to ensure that we have the necessary products in stock.
As someone said, the journey is better than the destination, but in this case, the destination was equally as good (or maybe better) than the journey. Our destination was implementing a unified ERP-like system, which connects multiple departments such as Last-mile delivery, Finance, Sales, Category, Procurement, Fulfilment Centres, Tech and Product, and others to one system and provides the necessary visibility for the smooth functioning of operations. After a year of implementation across all our fulfilment centres, I’m happy to report that this system has completely eliminated manual or paper-based processes at our fulfilment centres which has enabled our team to follow paperless picking methods. This system has helped us reduce our costs of operations massively, increased the overall efficiency of our omnichannel ecosystem and ultimately helped us in providing a better experience to our farmers and our Saathi partners (retail partners of AgroStar).
A big shout out to everyone involved in the journey, calling out a few names here -
Finance team: Bhargav Rughani