What are the main warehouse and inventory trends for 2021?

Many supply chains were shaken due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenging economic situation has shed light on the key gaps in many companies’ transportation systems as well as Warehouse Management systems. While every supply chain executive is looking at trends for 2021 and for ways to build resilience, inventory, and warehouse management become another top priority for businesses in 2021.

Companies have realised the need for better warehouse management to combat struggles with under or overstocking. Additionally, with many businesses reducing their budgets (especially in terms of property rent), there’s an increased need for efficient warehouse organisation.


While sustainability has been an industry buzzword in recent years, it still remains an influential trend and will lead the industry in trends for 2021. In terms of warehouse management, sustainable practices can involve using renewable energy sources, like solar batteries. Reportedly, energy expenses on average account for 15% of general warehouse maintenance costs, so implementing a sustainable approach can be a cost-saving strategic shift.

Robotic devices

Key Trends for 2021 in warehouse and inventory management continue with robotic devices. According to Research, worldwide sales of robots for logistics management are anticipated to reach $22.4 billion by 2021. Retail giants like Amazon are actively using collaborative robots alongside their human workforce to increase operational efficiency. It might seem like only a few industry leaders are able to use top-notch technology for optimising their warehouses. But the Annual Industry Report states more than 32% of supply chain professionals are actively using robotics and automation for their warehouses, inventory, and fulfilment management.

For over 50 years, automated guided vehicles (AGV) have been a familiar and valuable fixture in areas like factories and warehouses where they’ve performed repetitive material handling tasks. But their smarter, faster, more sophisticated and efficient cousin, the Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) can, unlike AGVs, navigate without external markers or infrastructure, and sales of it are starting to boom. 

Some 36,000 AMRs were operating in warehouses in 2019. By 2024 the number in operation is expected to be more than 1.1 million†. ‘Bots’ can not only help with the picking and sorting process, but they can also be used to conduct daily inventory checks as well as moving pallets and large payloads. They do all this while complying with the hygiene regulations brought about by the pandemic.

AMRs are packed with sensors and powerful onboard computers that help them understand their operating environment by dynamically mapping it from an initial walk through. They’re also smart enough to recognise and react to humans, vans, forklifts etc. even in busy environments.


Lastly, trends for 2021 must focus on Automation. Keeping and maintaining warehouse facilities is costly, and no one wants to overspend for inefficient space use. Additionally, warehouses are mainly backed by facility workers and their manual labour, which can include lots of paperwork and human errors. Using technology like robust WMS (warehouse management system) software can reduce labour costs, eliminate operational issues, and help increase warehouse functionality. Deep learning algorithms can significantly improve product arrival and delivery process, simplify the documentation circulation, and automate many other processes.

Complex supply chains involve working with multiple warehouse locations, and machine learning can help streamline operation between all these joints and keep all your facilities connected and integrated.

Transitioning to a versatile and best-of-breed cloud WMS allows for greatly improved warehouse performance. With a cloud WMS, you also have free upgrades as part of the package, which means your software is never outdated and you never have to deal with version lock. The onus of updating and maintaining the system falls on the shoulders of the service provider instead.

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of Cloud WMS Solutions:

•             Rapid implementation:

Cloud WMS can be implemented in a very short amount of time. Vendors take care of everything from configuration to hosting. This means that implementation takes place in weeks, rather than months or years – which is the case with on-premise WMS.

•             Reduced capital expense:

Cloud WMS eliminates the need for long-term licensing, specialised tools and resources to maintain the system. This, in turn, removes the need for significant capital outlays. Businesses, because of this advantage, can afford to become nimbler and ease their burdens.

•             Improved scalability:

Cloud WMS provides scalability in two ways. First, the program can be operated using any web-enabled computer. There is no need for hardware to be updated or changed. This also means that deployment is easier than ever and that the warehouse can be connected to the main system remotely. Secondly, additional licenses can be activated based on need and growth, which facilitates scaling as per requirements.

•             Easy to use:

A cloud WMS is the more practical version of a legacy WMS and therefore, very uncomplicated for the end user. With interfaces that are easy to navigate and to understand, carrying out fulfilment and picking operations becomes simpler. These operations can even be optimised.

What should I look for in a Cloud WMS?

What is the right cloud WMS solution for you obviously depends on your business needs, but four good key words to keep in mind when buying a WMS are Flexibility, Scalability, Real-time, and Partnership. A flexible and scalable system based on real-time data, from a supplier with focus on partnership and long-term development, is a good start to always stay on top of your warehouse operations. Automation is key and if you are to adopt only one of the above key trends for 2021, make sure it’s automation.

Want to know more about how you can optimise your warehouse operations about us today? ClarusWMS can help.

About us:

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 fulfilment and manufacturing warehousing.