After decades of manually determining routes for its last-mile fulfillment drivers, furniture retail chain Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattresses knew it needed a modern solution for the last step in its shipping operations.
“We were trying to solve for the legacy technology that we had. With the previous routing technology, we were connecting dots on a screen digitally,” says Bryan Anastasi, vice president of customer care and business solutions. “It left a lot of subjectivity to our routes, and it wasn’t an efficient way to do it.”
After months of vetting last-mile fulfillment vendors, Raymour & Flanigan implemented logistic vendor Bringg’s technology that uses the retailer-given parameters to find the most efficient route for the merchant’s delivery drivers.
For a furniture retailer, which sells large and bulky products, one of the constraining factors to how many orders an employee can deliver in one day is how many products can fit into the truck. A delivery route also must factor in the hours a delivery driver works and roads a commercial truck can drive on, Anastasi says.
For example, in New York, where a sizable portion of Raymour & Flanigan’s deliveries take place, commercial trucks can’t go on state parkways. Raymour & Flanigan needed its last-mile fulfillment software to avoid those roads and factor in the extra time it would take to to take the less efficient route.
Raymour & Flanigan signed its contract with Bringg in August 2019, developed and implemented a pilot program at one of its delivery centers, and deployed the service at a new delivery center every few weeks for a full rollout of the technology in March 2020, Anastasi says.
Results from last-mile fulfillment routing software
The results occurred as soon as a delivery center started using the new routes, Anastasi says, with its delivery drivers now able to average two to three more delivery per day. While this sounds small, this incremental improvement makes a huge impact on its business, he says.
“If you have 250 trucks on road, and you’re able to add two more stops into each one of those stops, that’s 500 additional customers satisfied in a day,” Anastasi says.
Since implementation, Raymour & Flanigan increased its deliveries per truck by 36%.
Another unexpected benefit of more efficient routing was that its delivery team started working fewer hours. Anastasi estimates that, on average, drivers are now working 45 fewer minutes per day.
Anastasi declined to reveal how much it costs to use Bringg, but says the new technology has resulted in an overall cost savings.
“There’s a major cost to sending out trucks half full or three-quarters full—that essentially creates waste,” Anastasi says. “Giving delivery drivers the most efficient route, to deliver the most furniture, they can eliminate that waste.”
Pandemic impact on deliveries
Delivering more orders in a day was especially beneficial during the pandemic, when demand boomed, he says. Raymour & Flanigan’s online sales have roughly doubled between the March 2020 lockdown until November 2021, Anastasi says.
He credits this to shoppers reallocating their disposable income from vacations to furniture during the pandemic, especially as consumers spent more time at home and upgraded their sofas, home office and dining room furniture.
The overall furniture category experienced this increase as well. Digital Commerce 360 ranks 102 furniture-focused retailers in its database rankings of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America. Those 102 retailers collectively grew their web sales 44.2% in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. Raymour & Flanigan is No. 503 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.
Because Raymour & Flanigan had just upgraded its delivery system to be more efficient and could deliver more furniture in less time, the retailer handled the increased demand without hiring more people, Anastasi says.
“We were not scrambling around looking for trucks, not scrambling around looking for people to do the deliveries. That’s a big deal in today’s world,” he says.
Customer satisfaction increase
Another benefit to using Bringg’s system was the consumer-end communication tool that came with it, which was another process the retailer knew needed an upgrade, Anastasi says.
Previously, the retailer would call the customer two or three times before a shipment to schedule the delivery and confirm it. The merchant considered these phone calls as high-touch customer service and a good personal touch.
“Over the last few years, less customers were willing to answer their phones and it felt more like an inconvenience to customers, rather than good customer service,” Anastasi says.
Now, customers can select to receive automatic delivery notifications via email or text message on the checkout page. Bringg’s technology sends automated messages to the shopper to confirm the delivery and delivery window via the shopper’s preferred method.
After the delivery, Bringg sends a customer feedback survey, allowing shoppers to rate how happy they were with the delivery service—a feature Raymour & Flanigan didn’t have before. About 35-40% of its customers fill out the survey, and the retailer is averaging 4.7 out of 5.0 stars, Anastasi says. Both numbers—the feedback rate and rating—are number the retailer feels good about, he says.
Finishing out 2021, the supply chain continues to be an “everyday challenge,” Anastasi says, especially because roughly 70% of its products are manufactured overseas.
Overall, the retailer is in a good inventory position. About 85% of the merchandise it shows in its store as in-stock and ready to ship. While this is down from its typical 95% in-stock standpoint, Anastasi feels good about its inventory levels.
Raymour & Flanigan is expecting to see a spike in orders for the holiday season, but the furniture retailer is confident it will be able to handle it, he says.Favorite