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Delivering the Promise


Everyone has had the disappointment of being promised something great for the holidays, and then for one reason or another not getting it. Men’s Wearhouse Inc. goes to great lengths to ensure that if a holiday promise is broken, it’s not because of any shortcomings on its end.

The Houston-based, 1,750-plus-store specialty men’s apparel retailer collaborates with supply chain management solutions provider United Parcel Services Inc. (UPS) to prepare its fulfillment infrastructure for the inevitable spike in demand that occurs every holiday season.

“The rush for our direct-to-consumer business starts in late November on the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas Eve,” said Jamie Bragg, executive VP of distribution and logistics for Men’s Wearhouse. “We flex up our distribution network between seasons and start to fill stores in August.”

August 2015 marked an especially busy month for the menswear retailer. In addition to the normal ramp-up in advance of the holiday season, the retailer performed several significant back-end integrations and upgrades. These efforts included upgrading the Manhattan Associates warehouse management solution used by both Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank (which Men’s Wearhouse acquired in June 2014) to the same version.

“We wanted to work out all the kinks ahead of the holidays,” commented Bragg.

In addition, August marked the launch of store-based fulfillment of items not stocked in local distribution centers. Men’s Wearhouse also moved from a reserve-online-pick-up-in-store program launched in March 2014 to chainwide buy-online-pickup-in-store capability, which was already offered at Jos. A. Bank stores.

UPS regularly assists Men’s Wearhouse in streamlining processes and identifying solutions and services it should implement or integrate. In addition, UPS receives an annual supply chain forecast that includes holiday predictions at the beginning of the year, as well as daily unit forecasts.

“We revise the annual forecast as we see changes in the business and promotional activities are being planned,” said Bragg. “We also update the forecast late in the third quarter to make sure we are on the same page and determine if we need more air or ground shipments than originally planned.”

Furthermore, the retailer works with local UPS offices to maintain a more than 98% fulfillment rate of a guarantee to ship all online orders placed before 2 p.m. Central Time on the same day.

Ultimately, the Men’s Wearhouse fulfillment strategy — whether during the holiday rush, other rushes such as wedding/prom season or during the rest of the year — rests on inventory visibility. The retailer does not use RFID technology, but still maintains 100% visibility of active SKUs using a transportation management system that allows it to see order flow throughout processing time until it is placed through the clear.

“We also use activity-based cycle counts,” Bragg said. “If a certain code comes through a location, they do the count, even when they’re busy. We used to have everyone picking and packing during rush times like the holidays. Now we always dedicate staff to inventory tracking when it’s needed.”

And as mentioned before, all this back-end effort is to deliver on the front-end promise of a happy customer, especially during the all-important holiday season.

“The more visibility you have of everything in the supply chain — on the water, on the dock or in your possession — the more you can share with the customer,” Bragg said. “The result is a better customer experience. It’s all about the customer experience.”

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