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SELL: Powell’s Books Goes Mobile to Manage Growth #11638
Posted by: reff55
Address: 15331 NE 90Th St
City: Redmond
State: Washington
Postal code: 98052
Country: United States

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From humble storefront beginnings in 1971 on a derelict corner of northwest Portland, Oregon, Powell’s Books has grown into one of the world’s great bookstores in the Portland metropolitan area, and one of the world’s most successful dot-coms (, serving customers worldwide. The company has about 450 to 500 employees, seven stores and two warehouse locations storing an average of 400,000 books.

Powell’s Books warehouse workers are constantly counting and stocking nearly 10,000 shelves with books so to keep the warehouse organized. In the past when a book was misplaced, workers had no way of finding it creating an unorganized warehouse.

Previously, workers would scan a book’s SKU number and have to enter the locator code during the data entry process. While data entering they would keep a tape measure with them to measure their stack of books to see if they exceeded the amount of space on the shelf. When they hit their limit they would then have to manually change the locator code in the data entry program and keep tabs on what books belonged on what shelf. This "put away" method was extremely time consuming and inefficient.

Powell’s Books not only needed a rugged mobile device that improved their put away method but could also perform a cycle count of inventory for accounting purposes. During cycle counting, staff members would also have to scan each book individually even if there were 30 copies of the same ti tle. This time-consuming task was performed by all company personnel.

In order to streamline and simplify the stacking method, Powell’s Books sought out new mobile devices that had functionalities their old units were lacking. The devices needed to meet several requirements:

Ability to:
• scan SKU and bar code;
• assign locator codes;
• scan multiple copies of the same book;
• perform a cycle counting operation;
• integrate with original software.

Powell’s Books looked to the help of Dynamic Systems Incorporated (DSI) for the best possible rugged handheld solution. See more at /solutions. After considering several options DSI had to offer, Powell’s Books deployed 50 Psion NEO rugged mobile devices in January 2010. The new system integrates both bar code scanning and SKU scanning making it easier and more convenient for workers to create a location for each book. The NEO is also able to perform cycle counts each year to track inventory.

"The Psion system has provided us with enhanced flexibility and efficiency throughout the warehouse," said Jason Ellingson, used book distribution manager. "The NEO not only has the ability to be programmed specifically to organize our plethora of books, but has proven to be effective, affordable and the best option that meets all our requirements." See more mobile solutions at

By deploying the NEO devices, Powell’s Books has been able to save two to three hours on data entry. Although more staff members are using the devices to stack books, time savings on data entry has been a huge benefit. Additionally, the NEO devices have enabled the cycle counting process to be 20 percent to 30 percent faster, more accurate and staff members believe they have spent less time going back and forth to the shelves to fix or add books.

"The deployment of Psion NEO devices has been seamless for the entire staff," said Ellingson. "The devices are compact and light weight, fit well in the hand, and are incredibly user friendly."

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