Pack-to-light proves perfect process for distribution centers.

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September 2010
Written by Thomas R. Cutler

As of January 1, 2010, Charlotte Russe operated over 500 stores throughout 45 states and Puerto Rico.  Charlotte Russe stores deliver style in clothing and accessories, providing an exciting, fashionable assortment of merchandise that compliments virtually every facet of their customers’ lifestyle. Founded in 1975, their stores provide fashion and lifestyle needs of young, fashion-conscious women in their teens and early twenties, offering trend right apparel and accessories at value prices. In addition to a wide selection of apparel, Charlotte Russe also offers a full range of accessories and footwear, helping customers to easily compliment their apparel selections.

In September 1996, Saunders Karp & Megrue, a private equity investment firm, and Bernie Zeichner acquired Charlotte Russe from its founders with the intention of pursuing an accelerated national store expansion program. Since the ownership change, Charlotte Russe Holding, Inc. has more than quadrupled its store count.

The meet the demands of their growing supply chain, Charlotte Russe selected the Warehouse Management for iSeries solution from Manhattan Associates an optimized Charlotte Russe’s receiving, inventory, planning and replenishment processes to efficiently support their retail store growth. Charlotte Russe’s Ontario distribution center also installed a pack-to-light solution from Lightning Pick (

“Our expansion strategy challenged us to support our news stores and meet the rising replenishment order volumes. Lightning Pick’s pack-to-light solution immediately helped us push merchandise out to our stores faster, and get it in front of customers where it belongs,” noted Chris Monier, VP of Distribution and Logistics.  Monier went on to say, “The intuitive, visual sortation approach also made training new employees exceptionally simple. Within a few hours we can have new operators actively using the LP Pack system to quickly break down full cases of product into individual store boxes.”

Sometimes called a put-to-light or put-to-store system, pack-to-light was ideal for Charlotte’s flow-through retail store replenishment approach.  The pack-to-light process is simple and effective. Manhattan’s WM conveys full cases of inventory to the correct pack area, where operators use the fully integrated Lightning Pick system to break them down to less-than-case-quantities for individual retail stores. The operators scan the full case of product with a cordless RF unit. Next, light modules illuminate at store boxes requiring that item, and direct the quantity needed for each. Different colored LEDs (red and green) direct operators to store positions/boxes above or below the track of light modules. The operator can quickly and accurately ‘put’ (or ‘pack’) the items to that store box, and then extinguish the light to confirm that the sortation was completed. The process repeats until the full case is rapidly emptied, and then another is conveyed to the pack area.

Fulfillment to New Stores
Recently Charlotte Russe found that it would have more stores than pack locations. Physically adding more rack and pack locations is not an option, so the current physical layout will have to support more than one store per Lightning Pick location and light module.

A software enhancement to the Lightning Pick solution enabled two stores to be packed at a single light location. Two beacon lights are used to indicate which group of stores is currently active. The first beacon would activate when the A store group is active, and the second beacon would turn on when the B set of stores is active.  “Several years later, the new Lightning Pick modifications have helped Charlotte Russe overcome space restrictions, and effectively process retail distribution orders to new stores in our supply chain with a minimal capital outlay,” enthused Rodenbach. Charlotte Russe projects the fashion attitudes and trends that appeal to a broad range of customers through an intriguing mix of effective store layout, appealing fashion and exciting merchandise presentation.

About Lightning Pick Technologies
For over 25 years and across 500 installations worldwide, Lightning Pick Technologies has delivered advanced order picking technologies on time, on budget, every time. Lightning Pick has best-in-class applications for pick-to-light, put-to-light, put-to-store, voice and RF systems support lean supply chain processes from manufacturing through order fulfillment. As a result, Lightning Pick clients improve their level of service, achieve superior order quality, and advance their positions in the market.

Lightning Pick
Joe Pelej
[email protected]


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