Analyst Insight: The distribution center is taking on greater importance as a driver of growth and profitability. Top companies are investing in distribution operations to drive competitive advantage and gain market share. Many are leveraging today's technology to prepare for the distribution center of the future. But there is a next wave of technologies on the horizon - from wearables to mobile manufacturing to the Internet of Things. And the tipping point for these technologies is near. - Nikko Pianetto, Group VP of Integrated Technology Solutions, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: Retailers are seeing new opportunities afforded by omnichannel commerce to leverage brick-and-mortar assets as more than just nodes in the distribution network. They are taking advantage of customers' desires for low or no shipping costs to drive additional in-store spend and seamless returns that make customers happy and ease the burden on distribution. -- Rob Dold, Retail Industry Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: Labor costs are rising just as the availability of workers is shrinking and turnover is increasing. According to the Census Bureau, 60 million Baby Boomers will exit the workforce by 2025, but only 40 million new workers will enter. Companies must rethink how they bridge that gap and keep costs in-line. Many life sciences companies are reaching a scale where investments in automation help replace manual, labor-intensive operations. But companies must be careful in evaluating automation investments. - Roger Counihan, Life Sciences Industry Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: For online customers, the buy button is easy; everything behind that is complex. Eighty percent of omnichannel strategy is about inventory strategy. It comes down to making intelligent inventory allocation decisions across the network and building an infrastructure flexible enough to quickly realign inventory to meet customers where they want. The key to omnichannel success is offering the customer multiple options and incentivizing the profitable flows. - Jason Denmon, Apparel Industry Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: The power has shifted from seller to buyer as consumers continue to bring B2C online shopping expectations and behaviors with them to the B2B markets they work in. Amazon continues to expand both its same-day delivery capabilities and its product offerings to encroach on some traditionally B2B markets like automotive aftermarket parts distribution. Like it or not, your business is being disrupted by, and in competition with, the Earth's largest retailer and marketing-savvy media company. - John Giangrande, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: From humble beginnings at the machine control layer, warehouse systems have matured and expanded to allow visibility and control over what is happening at the machine, parcel, associate and order/wave level. When combined with data from wearables and other Internet of Things technologies, warehouse control software will drive new opportunities for distribution efficiency. – Nikko Pianetto, Group Vice President, Integrated Technology Solutions, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: Speed is a game-changer. Leaders are enabling faster fulfillment and reaping real bottom line and competitive advantage benefits. The key is balancing potential revenue gain or service level improvement against the investment and operating costs required to deliver on the promise. Choosing the right strategy depends on understanding the impacts, not just within the distribution center, but across the entire organization. – Helgi Thor Leja, Industrial Distribution Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: Omnichannel commerce is the new "normal" for retail. And it's a tall order for most companies to achieve. You'll need an omnichannel road map that incorporates where you've come from and where you need to be based on your customers' expectations and your business strategy. – Joe Dunlap, Senior Director, Supply Chain Strategy, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: The need for speed, along with margin pressures, is causing food and beverage distributors to look for ways to achieve greater efficiencies in the warehouse. The continued growth of the "long tail" that are slow movers combined with a scarcity of available labor and the complexity of route-stop sequencing makes automation a good option. But to justify investments you have to look beyond the labor savings alone. – Frank Jewell, Food and Beverage Industry Leader, Fortna Inc.
Analyst Insight: Online retailers must make the returns process convenient for their customers which, in turn, increases the amount of product returned. But every company must find a balance between cost and customer expectations. Should you encourage customers to return products to the store? To the DC? To a 3PL? The answer depends on your brand, culture, infrastructure and average unit price. – Bruce Baring and Jason Denmon, Apparel Industry Leaders, Fortna Inc.