A FEW YEARS BACK, SALON SERVICE GROUP WAS
facing the classic growth challenge—at least where its
distribution operations were concerned. The company
had seen growth of 20 to 25 percent over the past five
years, and its small distribution center in Springfield,
Mo., was feeling the strain.
To ease the pressure, the supplier of hair salon products moved into a new facility in January that was
quadruple the size of the previous DC. At the same
time, it implemented a
new order processing system from FastFetch that
incorporates wheeled carts
and light-directed picking.
Salon Service Group sells
hair care supplies to pro-
fessional stylists through-
out the Midwest, serving
its clientele through 30
retail stores and a mail-or-
der business. In the old
building, workers filled
orders for these items one
at a time using paper pick
tickets and carts. “That
building was packed to the gills,” recalls the compa-
ny’s vice president, Shane Hanson. “We realized pretty
quickly that even with the new building, we would need
to add a lot more people if we continued to use our old
After investigating alternatives, Salon Service Group
chose the FastFetch order processing system, which
allows associates to pick multiple orders at a time.
Fifteen cartons are staged onto each of nine wheeled
carts, with each carton representing an order. The batch
picking capability has led to an enormous improvement
in efficiency, the company says. “Being able to pick 15
orders on nine carts means we can do 135 orders within
45 minutes,” says Hanson.
A tablet computer attached to each cart directs the
worker to the first pick location and indicates the total
quantity of that stock-keeping unit (SKU) needed to fill
all of the orders on the cart. The picker selects the items,
then, using a Bluetooth scanner, scans the bar code on
one of the items to confirm the right product has been
picked. The scan also causes put-lights and quantity
indicators on the picking cart to illuminate next to each
carton needing that SKU. The worker simply divides the
products into the appropriate cartons. FastFetch also
allows orders from multiple stylists in the same salon to
be packed together in the same carton to save on ship-
In a separate section of
the facility that houses the
In a departure from most pick-to-light systems, the
FastFetch hardware incorporates proximity sensors
rather than confirmation buttons. The worker simply
waves his or her hand next to the sensor on the rack or
the cart to confirm the pick. At that point, lights illuminate for the next order and the process continues until
all picks from the pick-to-light zone are complete.
As for how it’s all working out, before implementing
FastFetch, the company was able to fill 300 orders a day.
Now, it handles an average of 500 orders daily with fewer
people and can easily handle peak days of 850 orders.
Furthermore, the new system offers the flexibility to
grow with the business. Expanding the FastFetch system
will be as simple as adding more carts and pick-to-light
New order processing carts make fast work of order picking at Salon Service Group.