How a Leading Flower Wholesaler Transformed Operations with a Cutting-Edge Voice-Directed Warehouse Solution


Tom Brown Wholesale, a prominent name in London’s floriculture industry, has been redefining the way fresh cut flowers and plants are supplied to florists across the city. With an impressive operation that ships over 250 orders six days a week and an annual turnover exceeding £15 million, Tom Brown stands as a testament to efficiency and innovation in flower distribution.

A Look Inside the Operation

At the heart of Tom Brown’s success is a meticulously organised 24-hour sales and distribution operation. This process kicks off each evening as florists shut their doors and the flower buying window opens. When the clock strikes midnight, a flurry of activity ensues in Tom Brown’s warehouse. A dedicated team of 25 pickers works tirelessly through the night, preparing sales orders for dispatch. By 3am, these orders are ready to be sent out, and by 5am, all 18 delivery vans are on the road, ensuring that the day’s orders reach their destinations promptly.

The Secret Behind the Blooms

Ensuring that the flower stocks remain as fresh as when they were picked is no small feat. This requires a knowledgeable and experienced team, capable of handling the delicate task of flower selection and arrangement. In the past, this process was manual, reliant on paper pick sheets and prone to human error. However, the introduction of BEC’s eSmart Voice solutionhas revolutionised this aspect of the business.

eSmart Voice in Action

eSmart Voice, a modular warehouse technology developed by BEC, has been a game-changer for Tom Brown Wholesale. Utilising Honeywell’s voice-guided solutions and TalkmanA730X hardware, this system has been tailored specifically for the fresh flower industry. It integrates seamlessly with Florisoft, a flower supply management system, transforming the warehouse environment into a model of efficiency and calm, even during peak seasons.

A Look at the Numbers

With the implementation of eSmart Voice, Tom Brown has seen a remarkable 30% improvement in picking times. This technology guides operators through the entire picking process, virtually eliminating the possibility of selecting the wrong flowers. Operators use Bluetooth headsets to receive spoken instructions and confirm selections, streamlining the process significantly.

Transforming Workflows

The impact of this technological advancement is evident in the day-to-day operations of the warehouse. Prior to eSmart Voice, the environment was often chaotic, especially during busy periods. The new system has not only reduced stress levels but also enhanced overall productivity. Tom Brown himself notes the profound changes brought about by this technology, highlighting the substantial time savings and streamlined processes.

Reduced Training Times

Another significant advantage of eSmart Voice is the reduction in training times for new staff. Previously, a certain level of product knowledge was essential for pickers due to the paper-based operation. The new system has simplified the onboarding process, allowing new employees to reach full productivity from day one, a stark contrast to the weeks of training previously required.

Continuous Improvement

Tom Brown’s vision for the future is ambitious and forward-thinking. In collaboration with BEC, the company is now working to implement an electronic proof of delivery and asset tracking system, eSmart ePOD. This system, a part of the eSmart family, will integrate with eSmart Voice, providing real-time, end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Tom Brown’s goal is to develop a seamless, one-click transaction process akin to those offered by global retail distributors. With these technological advancements and a strong partnership with BEC, Tom Brown Wholesale is not just meeting the demands of today’s florist industry in London but is also setting new standards for efficiency and innovation.