Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. is the largest manufacturer and retailer of furniture in the world. Established in 1945, Ashley offers one of the industry’s broadest product assortments to retail partners and consumers throughout the world. From design through residential fulfillment, Ashley continuously strives to provide their customers with the best value, selection and service in the furniture industry. Headquartered in Arcadia, WI, the company employs over 20,000 associates globally.
Business Process and Problem Definition
Retail buying patterns are changing. Consumers with very high expectations are using numerous methods to shop, order and procure everyday items. Ashley Furniture felt those changes and realized it needed to react to the marketplace. This included paying close attention to what the company needed to manufacture – and where it needed to be distributed from to be cost effective – while hitting its customer service objectives.
Ashley Furniture realized that with thousands of time-critical loads per month, the potential for missed deliveries could directly impact the customer experience. Like many manufacturers,
Ashley Furniture does not manufacture all items in the same area or region, so balancing inventory within regions is critical. Near real-time identification and prioritization of product transfers across Ashley’s network is paramount to servicing customers in a given region.
The company also maintains its own fleet operations and divides its freight spend between the fleet and common carriers. In a capacity-constrained marketplace, Ashley Furniture’s fleet was identified as a competitive differentiator to be leveraged – both for ensuring consistent customer deliveries as well as picking up numerous third party backhauls. The company handled all payment terms via manual processes and recognized the liability of limited auditing capabilities.
Ashley Furniture established a list of goals for a new transportation management system:
- Track and trace for all aspects of freight moves (inbound, outbound and transfers)
- Visibility for all supply chain partners (vendors, procurement, manufacturing, customers)
- Automate transportation-related processes based on best-practices
- Leverage innovative technology on a single-instance platform requiring little IT support
- Deploy a scalable solution to handle multiple aspects of transportation in a high-volume environment