WebSmart PHP Modernizes Skechers Order Fulfillment System
Originally published in iPro Developer by Rita Sanders
Private i: Inside Solutions is an opportunity for IBM i and Power Systems vendors to describe a customer success story involving one of their products. System iNEWS receives no payment from the vendor, and the vendor receives no payment from System iNEWS. Answers are edited for continuity and clarity.
Varied requirements for customer orders taxed Skechers' outdated fulfillment system until the footwear company used BCD's WebSmart PHP web application development tool and Professional Services to build handheld touch screen and desktop apps for its order tracking and quality inspection systems. Through a graphical system that provides efficiency and additional quality checkpoints, WebSmart PHP has helped Skechers increase accuracy in fulfilling customer order service requirements, reduce implementation time for new requirements, improve employee efficiency, and reduce training times.
Tell us about Skechers.
SKECHERS USA, Inc., is a billion-dollar plus, award-winning global leader in the lifestyle and performance footwear industry. The company designs, develops, and markets lifestyle footwear that appeals to men, women, and children. Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, Calif., SKECHERS is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SKX and sells its products in over 100 countries and territories.
Describe Skechers' IBM i environment.
Skechers has a Model 720 E4b IBM i running 6.1 with six processor cores. The box runs Skechers' Warehouse Management System, Value Added Services/Visual Tasking System application, and its Quality Assurance and Inspection applications. The company has a 1.8 million square-foot distribution facility and approximately 140 users with portable WIFI terminals and 75 thin-client workstations that have the VTS application and 75 plus PCs running terminal emulation.
What was the problem Skechers wanted to solve when it employed BCD's WebSmart PHP?
Skechers was challenged by the extreme and various requirements that its customers have for value added services (VAS). Most customers have an external labeling or packing requirement that is specific to each organization. Before the BCD implementation, Skechers' old system was a text-based application that explained each customer's requirements with nothing more than words.
Skechers wanted an application that would also provide an explanation of customer requirements with visual elements such as pictures and videos. Also, Skechers needed an accurate way to track the services performed on any order carton, whether that was a label application process or a special service like inserting a catalog. For quality inspections, Skechers needed an application that would show the criteria for the inspection process, including color accuracy, packaging details, and product details.
Tell us about WebSmart PHP and how it's used by Skechers.
BCD's Professional Services team used WebSmart PHP, the rapid IBM i and multi-platform web application development tool, to develop handheld touch screen and desktop web applications for Skechers' Visual Tracking and Quality Inspection systems. WebSmart's template-driven approach made it faster to develop PHP web apps compared to manual coding.
The Visual Tracking System is a touch screen application that lets an associate scan barcodes on customer orders to present step-by-step visual and textual instructions on what services are to be performed on the order. The application also tracks the steps performed throughout order fulfillment.
The Quality Inspection System is a web application that lets an associate scan cartons and follow instructions on how to inspect products for defects and what to do if defects are found. The application also provides a means to search and review inspection results and initiate additional inspections. Quality inspectors can use a webcam to take a picture of a product and associate that image with a particular step within the inspection process. The image becomes associated with the database record.
What are RPG and PHP's roles in the solution?
Skechers' development staff provided the RPG logic that interacts with the PHP programs created with WebSmart by BCD. The new VTS system marries the strengths of each component - using RPG for the backend processing and using WebSmart PHP for the presentation layer to display the data in graphical form - resulting in an application that is easy to modify and takes advantage of each language's strengths.