Australian Plants Online

Australian Plants Online has been producing and growing plants for professional horticulturalists and landscapers for over twenty years, at their sunshine coast nursery. In 2013, they expanded their offering to incorporate an online store available to home gardeners around australia. Offering over 2,000 varieties of seasonal plants, stock management and accurate order fulfilment is critical to their success.

With growth in sales and volume in orders being picked, it was very important for us to implement a system which would give us the ability to have greater visibility on stock location and identification to enable APO to pick and process customer orders correctly and efficiently.

Rose Wherry, Manager, Australian Plants Online

The Challenge

When Australian Plants Online had problems finding horticulturally trained and experienced staff, they needed a business partner who could help them integrate all areas of the business without sacrificing the order picking and product location accuracy they required. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales tripled, and legacy operational methods had slowed order fulfilment to a point where staff were behind in completing customer orders.

Before seasonal stock can be delivered, it must be properly identified through with a labelling process to ensure accurate plant and variety identification. For this, Australian Plants Online needed a complete solutions partner that could provide labels that can withstand heat and exposure to elements, have technology to achieve precise barcode readability to track and trace stock for their extensive product catalog, and reliable labelling equipment that can print labels on demand to keep pace with fast order fulfilment without compromising usability, accuracy or readability of the label.

Barcode label management was not centrally coordinated, instead, performed manually whereby labels were pre-printed and applied manually. Human error was an inevitable problem. With their previous inventory management system, scanners were also positioned on benches near packing boxes. If a scan was missed or an incorrect plant put in a box it meant there would result in inventory errors which costed the business time, re-shipping fees, lost inventory, and creating a bottleneck for order fulfilment.

Due to time intensive labelling with its existing system, Australian Plants Online needed a partner who could meet demand for their every-growing catalog of SKUs, with the ability to scale when the business required.

The Solution

In consultation with Australian Plants Online, the insignia team took a holistic approach to inventory with the goal of implementing streamlined identification and data capture solutions to improve inventory visibility, reduce manual processes and increase efficiency of order fulfilment without compromising accuracy.

Environmental exposure can easily lead to the loss of essential information when labelling is substandard. To address poor labelling conformance, the label substrate chosen for tube and product location identification was chosen specifically for its robust environmental qualities with good clarity and excellent UV stability. The label substrate needed to be heat and water-resistant once product was labelled which means that outdoor storage in weather elements and transport would not affect the label quality or code legibility, scan-ability, and ensures proper adhesion and placement.

Domino’s M230i Automated Labeller with the Fishbowl® platform meant that every single SKU is correctly identified and allocated, allowing for more accurate inventory management and shipping labelling. The addition of the M-Series has made it much easier for operators to select the correct label resulting in fewer production interruptions caused by human error.

With over 2,000 varieties to pick from, it was vital that scanning capabilities needed to be robust and rugged to ensure staff could achieve accurate order fulfilment. Leveraging Android capabilities, the Zebra TC57 was chosen specifically for its rugged outdoor suitability and water resistance and easy integration with the Fishbowl® platform. The ultra-high-res screen is easy to read and reduces glare, even in bright sunlight which results in the ease of use for staff, it’s dual mode capacitive touch can also be used with stylus or gloved fingertip.

The Results

Implementing streamlined identification and data capture solutions for Australian Plants Online has improved inventory visibility, reduced manual processes and increased efficiency of order fulfilment without compromising accuracy.

With the centralization of barcode creation, inventory management and printing for thousands of different labels with Fishbowl®, Australian Plants Online have achieved GS1 barcode compliance and resolved inefficient manual labelling processes. Staff can now create and manage labels through a forms-based, point-and-click interface, making the process simple, secure, scalable, and agile. As Australian Plants Online increases the number of varieties and SKU’s, the new method for managing formats and creating new product labels saves time and money.

Using weatherproof label material with good compatibility for outdoor environments ensures inventory management is not compromised. Specialised label stock combats the challenge of environmental exposure does not peel off easily, lose colour or contrast, become illegible, scratch or fade ensuring essential information is protected.

The addition of Zebra TC57 handheld scanners in conjunction with Fishbowl inventory management means staff can confidently scan and fulfil orders without risk, and the integrated scanning equipment has reduced time-in-motion and improved order fulfilment times three-fold. Order fulfilment has improved from 3-6 weeks to only 4-5 days, and additionally, one third of staff have been redistributed to expand their skills in other areas of the business.

Automating label printing with Domino’s M Series label applicators has decreased the opportunity for human error and automated the shipping process by coordinating label printing with to create production efficiencies. Central management of label formats and data provides enhanced traceability to GS1 Standards while offering operational flexibility and scalability, without the need for manual application of shipping labels.

Australian Plants Online credits the insignia team for their holistic approach to helping them achieve operational precision and transform operations without compromising the accuracy they required.

insignia provided the industry knowledge and expertise to offer advice and implement a labelling and identification solution which has offered significant improvements to the APO operations.

Rose Wherry, Manager, Australian Plants Online