With traditional business models being turned upside down, brands like Pepsi are capitalizing on the e-commerce trend with a direct-to-consumer offer — and now restaurant chains are increasingly following suit with home delivery.
This illustrates how it’s more critical than ever to consider the warehousing and logistics part of the supply chain — with digital technology central to tackling sudden challenges, satisfying more demand and staying competitive.
Three core qualities — agility, adaptability and alignment — will help any warehouse grow and succeed in a new world driven by fast moving e-commerce and ever-shifting customer demands.
Agility. An advanced warehouse management system gives your warehouse the agility it needs to forecast demand, employ temporary labor and meet peak season and even pandemic challenges head on. It also allows you to maintain more detailed insight into inventory levels, so you can provide customers with deeper order visibility throughout the fulfillment process.
You can streamline operations to make quick order fulfillment a reality, without sacrificing precision, and more easily identify areas for improvement. This in turn can help you delight your customers and keep them coming back.
From smarter inventory management and optimizing your picking and packing processes, to the last mile of the customer experience, a WMS can ensure your warehouse serves as an asset in the quest to meet consumers’ ever increasing fulfillment desires — rather than a road block.
Adaptability. This can apply to a wide range of areas within the warehouse, but it’s difficult to adjust without first understanding where your warehouse lags — so make sure to get your data in order before looking to meet today’s trends. It’s critical for gaining visibility into the numbers underlying your operations, whether that’s during replenishment, picking, shipping or returns.
You’ll additionally be able to make more educated decisions concerning which technologies or solutions — robots, extra workers, or additional locations — are worth investing in for the likes of reorganizing stock location, speeding up packing and improving order accuracy.
A WMS will also help you reach the necessary level of efficiency quicker — and when you’re able to scale it will be ready to meet your new demands. Bigger businesses often try to match Amazon and its continuous roll out of innovations, but you can adapt your operations with more cost effective and appropriate technology to become a leader in your own space and keep ahead of the curve.
Real time data is also key when evaluating efficiencies throughout the business, so with deeper visibility into company processes, individual performance and team benchmarks, you can ensure the warehouse is fully aligned with both company and customer expectations.
Goals and objectives can be better tailored to specific operations than ever before. Plus the drilled down and universally accessible data provided by a WMS helps strengthen relationships with internal departments and creates a truly integrated environment — which in turn means the organization as a whole can better address problem areas and adjust operations to compensate.
Customer alignment. WMS software helps determine which products are selling when and where, so businesses have the data they need to adjust inventory levels and priorities accordingly. Additionally, this heightened visibility accurately pinpoints consumer buying habits and helps prepare for unexpected sales spikes, as well as granting much quicker intake of returns and a better understanding of why a product was sent back.
Don White is CEO, North America, at SnapFulfil.
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