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Case studies

Supply and (On-)Demand: Innovel and FLEXE Have a Partnership Poised for Growth

Innovel, a nationwide 3PL provider, recognizes FLEXE as a strategic partner for business growth and is actively generating new revenue through FLEXE projects.

You can read the full Innovel case study below, or share the PDF of the case study.

Logistics has changed. The rise of eCommerce has increased existing complexity, and logistics has never been more important to the success of a business than it is today.

Transform Innovel Solutions LLC knows this well. Founded in 1939, Innovel is a nationwide third-party logistics (3PL) provider and subsidiary of Transformco, a leading integrated retailer. From military exchange contracts, to Sears and Kmart, to some of today’s largest retailers and brands, Innovel has spent 80 years evolving its business to better support its customers as consumer demands have evolved.

But, today’s warehousing market is unpredictable. The rise of eCommerce and changing retail models have left some organizations with excess warehouse capacity, which increases fixed costs across a warehouse provider’s network. When Innovel was faced with this challenge, it turned to FLEXE.

About Innovel

  • COMPANY: Nationwide Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Provider and subsidiary of Transformco
  • WEBSITE: innovelsolutions.com
  • HEADQUARTERS: Illinois
  • TYPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Warehouse Provider in the FLEXE Network
  • SOLUTIONS ACCEPTED: eCommerce fulfillment, retail distribution, inventory overflow
  • SIZE OF NETWORK: 124 owned facilities
  • OPERATES IN: U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico
  • FLEXE PROJECTS TO DATE: 50+
  • FLEXE CUSTOMERS SERVED IN 2019: 22
  • TOTAL FLEXE SHIPMENTS IN 2019: 740,000+

Partnering with FLEXE

Four years ago, Innovel joined the FLEXE network of on-demand warehouses to increase warehouse utilization rates and expand its business. Since then, Innovel has managed more than 50 FLEXE projects, spanning eCommerce fulfillment, inventory overflow, and retail distribution.

In 2019, Innovel consistently worked with multiple FLEXE customers, simultaneously managing a variety of projects across the network. Altogether, Innovel stored more than 54,000 pallets and shipped more than 740,000 parcels for FLEXE customers.

NEW CUSTOMERS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW

The Innovel-FLEXE partnership started with a few pilot projects in 2016. Today, FLEXE provides Innovel with a consistent pipeline of opportunities across the U.S., which has continued to grow and provides Innovel with more business year-round.

In 2019, FLEXE projects continually accounted for 30-40% of Innovel’s capacity. Ryan Gorecki, Senior Director of Fulfillment Center Operations at Innovel, doesn’t see that velocity slowing down any time soon.

“We have some exciting and aggressive goals to grow over the next couple of years,” says Gorecki. “We want FLEXE to be a part of that.”

"We love that we can generate business through FLEXE. It’s a win-win, and we view FLEXE as a long-term partner."
Ryan Gorecki Senior Director of Fulfillment Center Operations, Innovel

“We love that we can generate business through FLEXE,” says Gorecki. “It’s a win-win, and we view FLEXE as a long-term partner.”

According to Gorecki, the Innovel team is looking forward to expanding their partnership with FLEXE and anticipates that revenue generated by FLEXE projects will continue to increase in the next two years.

20162017201820192020 & beyond
Piloted a couple of FLEXE projects6% of capacity utilized by FLEXE projects20% of network capacity for FLEXE projects30-40% of network capacity for FLEXE projectsContinued capacity utilization for FLEXE

SIMPLE, AND EASY-TO-USE TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM

To manage FLEXE projects, Innovel uses the FLEXE technology platform. The free, cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) and mobile scanners makes implementation fast and easy for Innovel to accept new FLEXE projects in more facilities.

“The platform is convenient and easy to use for both FLEXE retail customers and our warehouse operators,” says Gorecki. “Our everyday users are happy with the technology, and if an issue does arise, the FLEXE team is responsive and quick to jump in and get it solved. With the FLEXE technology platform, our operators can stay focused on execution.”

He adds, “The FLEXE eCommerce projects have helped us update our operations, such as implementing dynamic staffing models and supporting later cutoff times, which has made it easier for us to adapt, stay current, and serve customers. Our teams are trained to deploy solutions quickly, and the FLEXE technology platform is part of what makes that possible.”

Innovel is now able to take on multiple FLEXE customers at a time and increase the complexity of projects. For example, in just one site, Innovel is supporting 12 different FLEXE customers.

Together, FLEXE and Innovel manage and monitor warehouse performance through the FLEXE platform, tracking a set of warehouse metrics like dock to stock, mobile-scan rate, fill rate, and ship-on-time rate to ensure FLEXE customer service-level agreements(SLAs) are always met.

"Working on a variety of FLEXE projects has improved our team’s flexibility and helped us stay up to date with changing environments."
Ryan Gorecki Senior Director of Fulfillment Center Operations, Innovel

TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

At Innovel, experience is a core value. The same is true at FLEXE. Combined, there are years of diverse logistics experience across the teams, which makes it easier to partner together to manage everyday operations and strategize around future opportunities.

“The expertise, flexibility, and consistency makes Innovel a truly strategic partner for FLEXE,” says Megan Evert, SVP of Operations at FLEXE. “Especially for complex projects like eCommerce fulfillment of heavy, bulky goods. As that demand continues to grow, Innovel makes it possible for FLEXE to meet the needs of our customers and their shoppers.”

For FLEXE projects, Innovel works with an Account Manager and Operations Coordinator to activate projects, monitor performance, and manage ongoing communications. The FLEXE Customer Support team helps with issue resolution and after-hours questions, within 20 minutes or less.

“Having support from the FLEXE teams for managing operations and inventory helps us increase efficiency in the warehouse,” Gorecki says. “And, having different types of FLEXE projects ranging from storage to direct-to-consumer fulfillment, has improved our teams’ flexibility and helped us stay up to date with changing environments.”

"The expertise, flexibility, and consistency makes Innovel a truly strategic partner for FLEXE."
Megan Evert SVP of Operations, FLEXE

About Innovel’s network: A hub-and-spoke approach

The Innovel network is a hub-and-spoke design that optimizes how inventory is stored, moved within the Innovel network, and ultimately distributed to the final destination.

It has 124 U.S. facilities in its network, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Innovel also has a variety of formats that specialize in food-grade, conveyables, and fulfilling heavy, non-sortable goods. FLEXE projects are supported across all three types of warehouses.

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF FACILITIES IN THE INNOVEL NETWORK:

  • 106 Market Delivery Operation Units (MDO): MDOs are smaller (30-40k sqft) and strategically placed across the U.S. to support next- and two-day shipping. Innovel has mastered last-mile delivery, and these facilities are specifically designed to manage heavy, bulky products; for example, home appliances, mattresses, and fitness equipment.
  • 11 Direct Delivery Centers (DDC): DDCs are larger (900k-1M sqft) facilities used for storing and stocking the inventory that is transported to MDOs. Every day, trucks move inventory for final-mile delivery from DDCs to MDOs.
  • Seven Conveyable Warehouses: The conveyable facilities are the largest (1.6-1.7M sqft) facilities and have miles of conveyors. These facilitiesare designed for automation and supporting small-parcel D2C fulfillment operations.

Share Innovel's story by downloading the PDF here.

ABOUT TRANSFORM INNOVEL SOLUTIONS

Since 1939, when Innovel was launched as Terminal Freight Forwarding Corp., it has offered best-in-class logistics solutions to a range of industries including major retailers, manufacturers, and the U.S. military. The Innovel teams do not rest on their laurels—they put capabilities to work and, today, Innovel remains a leader in retail supply chain, warehousing, final-mile delivery, installation, and more. Innovel is focused on what’s best for its customers. Its customized delivery solutions look beyond the traditional, cost-based model to provide customers total delivery value. Innovel is a subsidiary of Transformco, a leading integrated retailer.

For more information, visit www.innovelsolutions.com

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