Lost Pines Outfitters (LPO) is a small online and local clothing retailer specializing in affordable outdoor clothing for value-conscious shoppers. LPO was founded in 1989 by Ann Jemisin in Bastrop, Texas.
Lost Pines Outfitters operates both an online storefront (LPO Online) and a physical storefront (LPO Retail) serving customers in the Texas Hill Country. Inventory is shared across both locations, with a single warehouse fulfilling orders from LPO Online and stocking LPO’s retail location. The processes for fulfilling orders in each branch of the business are described below:
When a customer places an order through LPO’s online portal, their order is sent directly to the warehouse, where an associate takes (“pulls”) the selected items from warehouse shelves. Warehouse associates use a single computer to track incoming orders, locate items in inventory, and pull inventory for fulfillment. Once LPO’s warehouse associates have pulled the items from inventory, they manually update the inventory tracking system. Once the item has been pulled, it is sent to the fulfilment department. In the fulfillment department, associates package the items for delivery to customers and assign the shipment a tracking number through the United States Postal Service. Once the order has shipped, an associate in LPO’s fulfillment department manually checks the tracking information and updates the order’s delivery status. Once the customer receives the order, an associate sends a card, thanking them for their purchase and requesting they leave a review of the item and their experience shopping with Lost Pines Outfitters.
LPO’s retail store is located near Austin, Texas. Customers visiting the retail location can browse LPO’s inventory and directly purchase their goods within the store. Inventory for the LPO retail location is drawn directly from the warehouse that also serves LPO Online. Purchases are tracked through LPO’s point of sale system. At the beginning of each week, the manager of LPO’s retail store collects information from retail sales and updates inventory in LPO’s warehouse database. Associates working in LPO’s retail stores also send cards and coupon offers to members of LPO’s loyalty program, which is only offered in their retail store.
With this information about the systems in place at Lost Pines Outfitters, your supervisor has asked you to leverage your understanding of systems thinking to address the following problems. Your recommendations should be based in systems thinking.
- The CEO has noticed there are frequent discrepancies between LPO’s inventory database and the inventory tracking at the retail store. Because information is not regularly communicated, the buyer is unable to regularly purchase inventory with the most up-to-date information.
- Warehouse workers have a single computer that serves a variety of functions. Workers often experience delays in updating and processing orders due to other workers using the warehouse computer.
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