Last month, business technology solutions provider CDW  brought me, along with several established tech bloggers, to Chicago to check out some of their facilities on behalf of Small Business Trends.
We got a fabulous warehouse tour. Due to security protocols, the tour did not allow for any note taking or photography once we were inside the warehouse. So my only photographs are from the reception area.
I could not even bring my bag (they didn’t want us to swipe any small boxes of phones, and heck, with everything you saw there once you set foot inside, you couldn’t blame them!). But I thought it was quite an impressive facility and wanted to share what I learned about this behemoth of a company that I’ve had my eye on for years.
Fascinating CDW Statistics
- CDW receives $14.6 million dollars of new inventory on a daily basis.
- Approximately 130,000 cases of product arrive to the facility each day, which equates to 50-75 truckloads.
- The total facility stores $220 million dollars of inventory.
- Inventory is turned around on a very consistent basis. Nothing stays in the facility for more than 30 days. The average turnaround time for a product to arrive at the warehouse until it is shipped to consumer is about a week.
- The warehouse facility is about 0.75 miles long. It’s better to get around on wheels than on foot, but there’s a dedicated walkway area for observers. For everyone else, there are constant carts moving around with massive boxes. CDW is very observant to OSHA safety standards. In fact, they celebrate each and every day that there is no injury on site.
- If you place an order, there’s a 94% chance it will be shipped on the same day.
- Between both of their facilities (they have a second one in Las Vegas), there are approximately 45,000 boxes shipped each day. That’s the equivalent of 60-80 trucks per day. Apparently, the shipping companies love them because CDW employees load up the trucks themselves. (Other companies just leave the boxes to be loaded by the drivers themselves!)
- The Las Vegas facility ships 1,700 boxes per hour and the Chicago facility ships 3,800 boxes per hour. A shipping day is approximately 10 hours.
- Their shipping process is incredibly detailed. For accountability, every product is photographed when placed in a box before the box is shipped to a customer. If a customer reports a problem with the shipment, CDW can pull up the image of the box before it was sealed to ensure that the shipment included all ordered products (or not!) More often than not, though, a box is opened by someone else when it arrives at the client’s destination, and some folks grab the products they like. That’s usually the case when 20 Ethernet cables are ordered and the person who placed the order actually ends up with 5 when the box finally arrives at his desk!
- CDW does laser etching and they have a dedicated lab for this. Instead of putting stickers on laptops, companies enlist in CDW’s business to laser etch laptops or tablets that are purchased in bulk for easy identification purposes.
- CDW configures and provisions servers too. You can provide a customized image of the software you’d like to install on the server and they’ll set up the server for you.
My conclusion: a truly impressive operation all the way around. Employees appear happy and dedicated. The level of automation and attention to detail for customer service was beyond anything I would have imagined, had I not seen CDW’s operations firsthand. The CDW statistics are a bit mind boggling.
And the best part is that you can immediately see how business customers of any size, including small businesses and midsized businesses, would benefit from CDW’s advanced automation systems combined with the dedicated human touch.
My message to the CDW hosts is that I would return in a New York minute because there was so much to see and learn about this electronics retailer.
Disclosure: CDW paid for my travel accommodations and food as a representative of Small Business Trends during this event.