Is maintaining 100 percent fulfilment rates within your warehouse an impossible dream? With the the right processes and the latest technology, it’s not only attainable – but sustainable, too.
The explosion in e-commerce and multi-channel retail has blown the traditional wholesale and retail model apart. Web-based sales from such places as Amazon, fulfilled directly from the warehouse, have driven demand for better and more stringent warehouse managemen. Orders are picked, packed and dispatched individually on the same day – if not within a few hours, rather than by the pallet load – resulting in providing 100 percent fulfilment a bit more of a challenge.
Maintaining the right stock levels at all times
Inventory is one of the biggest costs for distributor, so keeping a tight control of stock levels is essential to staying efficient. A surplus of inventory sparks costs in storage and waste, that can effect other areas of the business as funds are diverted away from other departments – while too little inventory fails to meet customer demand and damages reputation.
Efficiently responding to external changes is what keeps your company afloat.
Older Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) software solutions are not flexible enough to cope with the fast changing demands of today’s demands. With the development of new technology such as WMS in the Cloud and Software-as-a-Service, IT for distribution companies is no longer restricted to office-based functions. Time spent on daily processes, such as administrative paperwork and warehouse task delegation can all be reduced, while using mobile devices hugely improves the scalability and flexibility of any distributor.
Implementing intelligent IT, like an advanced WMS software solution, gives distributors an overview of stock status at any given time with easy reporting. Whereas older software – or even manual processes – would require collation and analysis of data before reports. New WMS systems deliver detailed reports in minutes – from tracing down the status of a particular order or batch, identifying when orders are due for fulfilment and how the logistics schedules match up, to creating forecasts for potential seasonal demand fluctuations, processes are much faster and more accurate.
“If the rate of change outside your organisation is greater than the rate of change inside your organisation, the end is in sight,” said US businessman and author Jack Welch.
An effective, tailored WMS can mean the difference in profit margins and customer service that will make or break a business.
As businesses grow, warehouse managers can no longer rely on a combination of spreadsheets for purchasing and stock control. Many are under pressure to deliver above and beyond current system capabilities, as demands for next-day and timed delivery rise, along with increasing requirements that products be tracked and traced right back to the source.
Once warehouse operations reach the over the £15m turnover mark, logistics managers begin to get swamped under a load of paperwork, and a warehouse management systems (WMS) becomes a necessity. Even at the £8m turnover mark, warehouse based companies operating with a variety of unconnected databases and spreadsheets will start to creak at the seams and it will become increasingly challenging to cope.
Smaller and newer warehouse operators may hesitate at investing in a WMS, yet, by putting in a comprehensive system in at the beginning they will avoid facing the challenge of making a huge change later on. The cost of the investment will be recouped quickly from the efficiencies achieved, such as increased speed in fulfilling orders.
Warehouse managers are often only too keenly aware that they are in need of a WMS. Many will be actively researching and comparing potential WMS solutions, without realising that a WMS solution on its own will have little value. A WMS needs to link to other systems such as a sales order system; in fact, most warehouse managers looking for a WMS are in need of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with WMS capability.
This type of warehouse management function will provide the granular Business Intelligence (BI) that really drives business processes and growth. Product recalls and customer returns for example, can be managed across multiple integrated systems, including sales order processing and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
The flexibility of automation
While business processes may have been manually streamlined to enable full functionality, these changes often don’t take in to account company wide growth or fluctuations. Managing one warehouse compared to several is akin to babysitting one child for a few hours compared to having quintuplets full-time. The theory is the same, but the management needs to be as slick as possible for day-to-day functions to be viable and allow the flexibility to grow.
Automating processes such as collating historical buying data ensures simple and easily-adjusted demand forecasting. Distributors can respond quickly to fluctuating product demand without having excess stock or simply a lack of stock available.
WMS & ERP software automates previously manual tasks such as monitoring stock levels and creating logistics schedules for timely distribution. It can even be used on-the-go to reduce the administrative paperwork required by delivery drivers, as they access the software on a mobile device to provide real-time delivery status updates.
100 percent fulfilment & complete automation can be achieved with the right system
Along with your chosen partner, be prepared to carry out a full business process review and tailor the WMS to your business processes rather than try to fit the business process to the system.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.