Case Study

Jo-Ann Fabric Stores

Jo-Ann Stores case study

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The Challenge

Jo-Ann Stores, the nation’s largest fabric and craft retailer, had miles of fabric and millions of buttons; and with that came nearly as many challenges in shipping.

Jo-Ann needed a partner who could smooth out the wrinkles in its retail supply chain, and create a work of art: a faster, easier and more complete ocean freight audit system.

Jo-Ann receives approximately 5,000 ocean container shipments annually from Asia and the Middle East. Before they adopted a software solution from Acuitive, not all ocean freight bills were audited and, when they were, the process was labor-intensive.

The stakes were high; resolving invoice issues often delayed final delivery of containers. Jo-Ann management knew they had to speed up the ocean bill audit process, and improve its accuracy, especially as growth in the business was driving up shipping volumes.

A smart, automated, prepayment audit solution was urgently needed.

The Fix

Jo-Ann Stores turned to Acuitive Solutions to develop and implement an ocean freight audit and payment scheduling process that achieved:

  • 100% audit of all invoices
  • 99% resolution of all billing issues without client involvement
  • 100% elimination of short/over-payment issues
  • Establishment of an automated, structured process to determine the applicable payment date for each invoice, based on approval date, ETA and credit terms
  • Average invoice approval time of seven to eight days before shipment ETA
  • A unique and dynamic capability to update arrival date after departure from origin
  • Significant savings in cost and time, as a result of high carrier acceptance, and participation in the invoice resolution process
  • Scalable audit capacity

In a collaborative approach, data from Acuitive’s prepayment freight audit portal was integrated with the VMS® (Visibility Management System) of Century Distribution Systems – Jo-Ann's third party logistics provider. This provided a transparent and accurate ocean freight audit function, with seamless utility and appearance.

Acuitive’s portal collected and analyzed all the necessary data for the successful audit of carrier invoices. In the end, a stand-alone system did not need to be created, saving time and development costs. The ability of all parties involved to move quickly, while making adjustments during the development phase, allowed for an expedited delivery of the system and its utilization.

Now, Acuitive audits 100% of Jo-Ann’s invoices, to identify missing data and shipment discrepancies, which are then resolved directly with the carrier. Corrected invoices are automatically rated and approved, while the few remaining exceptions are highlighted for attention by Jo-Ann’s billing department.

Jo-Ann wasn’t the only one impressed by the results. The partnership received the “Alliance Award” and “Supply Chain Distinction Award” for Best Collaborative Practice by World Trade Group.

Yossi Sheffi, Director of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, led the selection process and said of this retail supply chain project:

“The Acuitive entry stood out, due to the complexity and mitigation, backed up with specific results that produced a seamless, transparent and highly accurate automated prepayment audit process that significantly improved operations due to greater shipping and delivery certainty.”