In business since 1934, Meijer is widely acknowledged as the pioneer of the American superstore - it opened the first "hypermarket" in 1962, 26 years before Wal-Mart. Today, Meijer owns and operates more than 175 supercenters and 160 gas/convenience stations throughout the Midwest. It is one of the nation's largest privately held companies, with annual sales topping $13 billion.
For years, Gilson was one of the vendors Meijer relied upon to print in-store point-of-sale materials. Meijer designed the materials and outsourced the production and printing; finished goods were sent to Gilson for kitting, storage and shipment to Meijer Distribution Centers throughout the Midwest.
As the number of stores grew and the complexity of kits and materials increased, this system became increasingly inefficient. Among the problems:
- Each department manager at each Meijer location used a paper-based binder and bar-code wand to scan in the item(s) and kits needed for display. Managers frequently ordered the wrong item(s).
- Each order was shipped from one of 18 Meijer Distribution Centers via a Meijer truck also loaded with pallets of food and general merchandise. Kits were frequently damaged, misplaced or lost - and store promotions were delayed or diminished as a result.
- Damaged or missing orders required rush assembly and collation of replacement kits.
These problems negatively impacted both store-level sales and corporate marketing budgets. Gilson analyzed the situation, sending team members to store locations to better understand and evaluate the process. We addressed the above problems and more with these process improvements:
- We removed all fulfillment responsibilities from Meijer Distribution Centers. Today, Gilson kits and packs all program elements, distributes the kits directly to supercenters and convenience stores, and inventories individual kit elements for future replacement orders.
- We used our Mindwire technology to create a web site managers access to order items and kits. The site shows visuals of all products available, is easily and quickly updated to reflect new promotions and outdated items, and incorporates robust security that allows only approved users to see, order and manage specific items.
- We created a digital asset management system to maintain all production files.
- We print the majority of kit elements and procure the rest, ensuring brand and color consistency.
- Our designs staff works with Meijer's internal design group to produce various program elements - including all gas station POS materials.
Gilson's approach has:
- Sped up delivery of materials to stores - it's now 1-2 days instead of 2-3 weeks.
- Reduced distribution costs by approximately 30%.
- Improved turnaround time of printed materials and POS products from an average of five days to 1-1/2 days.
- Reduced order entry and shipping errors from 19% to less than 1%.