August 23, 2014

11 Really Cool Things to Know about CDW

CDW tech blogger tour - reception area

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.

CDW statistics - tech bloggers pictured before tour

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.

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Tamar Weinberg - Tamar Weinberg


Tamar Weinberg Tamar is the Chief Strategy Officer of Small Business Trends. She does behind the scenes work as well as advertising sales for the SmallBizTrends network, and occasionally you'll see her post like this one here :)

7 Reactions

  1. Wow they are pretty amazing. I was amazed on the amount that they are getting on a daily basis. I’m so happy for you that you got to attend the event. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to really learn a business in an in-depth manner.

  2. I love statistics like this.

    But I am especially impressed by the details of how they run their operations, such as the point about taking photographs of the contents of boxes before they are shipped. What a smart and easy way to create a record that everything was in there.

    - Anita

  3. Tamar-

    I am an account manager for CDWG and represent Healthcare, I certainly appreciate your positive review of CDW (as CDWG is “technically” an entity of its own).

    We take a lot of pride in our facilities and out ability to deliver products same day to customers and all of the other warehousing abilities such as configurations and laser etching.

    But I also wanted to add the capabilities of the dedicated account managers to our customers and to their business. There can be a perception of CDW as box pushers, when the reality is, we are solution providers with a very in depth and technical understanding of our customers businesses, who push boxes very well!

    So again thank you so much and I would be happy to provide any more insight to your readers regarding our capabilities in regards to understanding our customer’s businesses and being highly qualified and trusted technology advisors.

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks Kevin! Having been in the IT field before I did this whole marketing/blogging/sales stuff, I can vouch for CDW’s account management’s professionalism. The tour I went on didn’t cover much of what you talk about, but I really do appreciate the insight!

  4. I truely miss living in downtown Chicago and being able to order from CDW. I’ll never forget getting my first “high-end” (don’t laugh 80 GB HD!) laptop from them when I was paralyzed in 1992 and required to spend 3 months down the street from my condo first at Northwestern ICU then at Rehab Inst. of Chicago. It was ordered and broought to me the next day. They (CDW) brought some feeling of being a productive part os society even though the swelling on my spinal cord was continuing to take away the use of my hands. I would have it taken out for me each night while I got to rest and made every effort to try to use my fingers and keypad. I fully believe today I can qsay that had I not had that laptop so quickly, I may never have regained the use of my hands again so quickly.
    I loved seeing the CDW on the Ohio Feeder each day when I finally was driving home from work. Not sure if it’s still there as Im no longer living in the city. However, I still take that route on my way into the city for my Portilio fix and look for them. I made sure out company purchased from them unti we hired a fulltime IT gal. Guess who she used when she came aboard?

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