Meet our Head of Fulfillment, the man who upgraded our dispatch system and made it possible for us to move from our original warehouse into a big brand spanking new one. Some call him Jim, Jimbo, James or Dr. Logistics (kidding, no one calls him James).
Where are you from and what is your job exactly at Grana?
Originally, I’m from the UK and my role as Head of Fulfillment covers the whole process surrounding the movement of product. This means everything from creation, right through to our customers’ hands.
You initially worked with Grana as an external consultant to help us improve our warehousing structure. What made you decide to join the team permanently?
How could I resist!? It’s quite rare that you get the chance to work alongside so many diverse and talented people with a free run at creating something unique. So, I’d say the people and opportunity was the biggest draw. Also, I love a good challenge and scaling ecommerce is something I’ve spent my career doing, so it just felt like the right fit for everyone.
How does Grana make the experience from placing and receiving an order smooth for customers?
There’s a series of things which need to happen behind the scenes and without putting you to sleep essentially it comes down to this:
1). The tech and systems need to accurately display what's in stock to customers and allow them to place an order (which is more complicated than it might seem when you’re dealing with thousands of different unique products).
2). Then it’s about how to efficiently instruct our team where to find the items in our warehouse so they can pick, pack and dispatch them.
3). Once it’s left our possession, it’s down to our courier partners but it’s not good enough to kick back and think that the job is done; we need to make sure that the package arrives in the way our customers want (i.e. not damaged and without fuss). This is why it’s important to consider the fulfilment chain rather than just warehousing or logistics.
When you first took a look at the Grana packing and dispatching system, everything was pretty manual. How have you brought technology into the warehouse?
The first thing to consider when introducing any new technology or system is to look at the problem you’re trying to solve and in the warehouse, it’s actually a really simple one to understand. We need to know what we have sitting in our warehouse and where it is, so locations are at the heart of everything.
First, we setup a structure much like in a hardware superstore; we have aisles, bays, shelves and within that framework, locations. Once we did that, all we had to do was to scan every item into the system to log what it was and where it’s located; luckily all our products had barcodes otherwise we could have been there for long time!
Now we can see in real time not just what items we have in stock, but how quickly a particular product is selling, how long it takes to pick and pack orders. How many locations have been stock checked today or when will the team be finished booking in a new purchase order; we are just scratching the surface of what is possible and so it’s a very exciting time for the team.
Not only did you revamp the way we process orders, you also headed the entire project of moving our team and product to a brand new 18,000 ft2 warehouse. What were the biggest questions that you asked yourself when you were deciding on the design and layout of our new home?
Haha, yes you’re right, I could definitely use a holiday! Honestly, the thought process was simple; every time I had a decision to make I’d ask myself 3 things:
1). Is it Grana?
2). Is it functional?
3). Is it within budget?
However, I can’t take all the credit for the new warehouse though; we had some really great minds contributing on this and so a lot of the genius to this project is in the detail which isn’t obvious at first glance; we have a really clever caballing grid layout which means all our lighting, power and network is distributed efficiently (which is pretty economical), also we have pretty amazing Wifi (my personal fave).
Does the name Donna mean anything to you?
Besides being a regretful dining option at 2am and a British hallmark, it’s also the name of THE MOST ADORABLE DOG IN THE WORLD (but it’s hard to tell if I’m biased).
How does your style reflect your personality?
I like clothes that are comfortable, good value for money, versatile and that last me a long time; that’s quite practical I’d say, which is definitely reflective of my character. It’s also why Grana is a brand I wear all the time; it really hits my sweet spot.
What’s been your most rewarding moment at Grana so far?
Seeing my team buy into my ideas I’d say. It’s not really a “moment” but they’ve been great in supporting change and the direction I want to take them. Their openness really allowed us to make quick progress; I’m very proud of what they’ve achieved.
What’s your favourite thing about the new office?
Our internal network (did I give it away earlier?). Most people don’t realise the thought and planning that goes into something as ‘straight forward’ as internet/Wifi; let me tell you, achieving 200+ fast and stable simultaneous connections is more complicated than you’d think!
What’s your ideal weekend?
25 degrees’ day, 19 degrees’ night, no humidity. Morning exercise so I don’t feel bad about spending the rest of the day lounging around. Afternoon/evening BBQ at home with friends. Happy with an early night or escalation depending on group momentum. Subject to my condition the next day, a bit of Great British Bake Off and Walking Dead followed by an optional afternoon snooze; bliss.
What can you never say no to?
A cup of tea (how cliché is that).