Offering next day delivery means we rely heavily on the accuracy of our stock control systems.
Up until 2010 the Cottam stock take was a labour intensive and slow annual process. All that changed when we were introduced (via logistics consultant, Steve Dickinson) to Abacus Valuers Ltd and used their expertise to develop an automated stock check system. Andrew Biggs, Business Development Director for Abacus Valuers Ltd comments “We were brought in to help Cottam improve and speed up their stock checking process. The system they run now bears no resemblance to the paper based system we first saw the operate. We’ve developed a great partnership which has been beneficial to both companies and I look forward to our continued success”.
It wasn't overnight success story though. One of the first hurdles to be overcome was a difficulty in processing stock codes. Cottam codes had developed over the company's 150 year history. While some of the codes easily described the products they were also introduced before the advent of computers! Dots, inch symbols and backslashes were not compatible with the IT and so the first project was to change over almost 10,000 raw material and finished goods numbers to a computer friendly coding system.
These days the stockcheck is completed in a day. We use Abacus Valuers' scanners to record all the data, scanning each box and verifying quantities. The real success though comes from the preparation. In the lead up to the big day, the warehouse team are relentless in readying the storage locations for checking. While our goods in processes are robust, there is still the chance that product ID or packaging may not be up to scratch, and that is best sorted out in advance.
The actual stocktake day sees the whole company getting involved, from the MD through the sales team, design, engineering, production and of course warehouse staff. Tradition dictates that bacon sandwiches arrive for lunch and it’s a challenge to beat the record time to complete the counts.
This time we'll be checking well over a million individual items and we expect the accuracy to have improved on the 97% we achieved last time around. And that’s good news for Cottam customers.