Online shopping now accounts for 51% of all retail purchases in the UK and continues to grow at double digit pace year on year.
Warehouse management software systems have been supporting logistics operations for over 40 years but historically, they were designed to move pallets in and out of a warehouse. The fabric of online retail and eCommerce warehousing has changed dramatically with the rise of eCommerce but not all WMS’ have kept up.
It is becoming hard to remember a world where we couldn’t research a purchase online before hunting for the best possible price across a range of retailers. After placing an order, customers expect regular notifications about the order status followed by delivery within a matter of days or even hours!
Many well known warehouse management systems sit more comfortably within a pallet in, pallet out operation so what are the telltale signs to look for in a software provider if eCommerce is key requirement?
Online Returns Management
Does the software provider understand returns processing is often as big an issue as getting orders out correctly?
Returns management is key to online sellers and eCommerce warehousing. Failure to manage the returns process correctly can cost businesses £1,000’s.
Look for a system which offers strong returns features such as:
- Online returns portal
- Returns matching against the original sales order
- Quality assessment (QA) processing of returns
- Back to stock or alternative workflow e.g. B stock processing
- Customer progress alerting
- Supporting of credit note/ refund processing
Online Marketplace Integration
Many online retailers have multiple channels for receiving sales orders. This may include their own website/s, eBay, Amazon and perhaps even via other retailers if they are a true omni-channel business.
A single repository for all available stock regardless of where it is being sold.
A true, best of breed warehouse management system, which is well suited to eCommerce warehousing, will be able to act as a single repository for all available stock regardless of where it is being sold.
If an item is sold on eBay, the stock position needs to be updated across all sales platforms to ensure orders are not taken which cannot be fulfilled.
Anything less than 100% order fulfilment will end in poor online reviews, lost repeat business and lost revenue.
Many warehouse management system providers over complicate the functions they offer.
The fundamentals of warehousing should be simple and you should focus all your efforts on finding a solid platform which offers great, reliable picking, packing and shipping functions to support best practice eCommerce warehousing.
The fundamentals of warehousing should be simple
Especially for small to medium business, looking for a fully managed service makes very good business sense. Trying to replicate what platforms such as RackSpace or Amazon Web Services can offer with onsite, locally managed servers is going to get very expensive but is also short sighted.
The vast majority of cloud platforms will significantly outperform on-premise versions and true cloud software providers will ensure you always have the latest innovations by pushing our regular updates to the entire user base.
A major cost for all online retailers is parcel carrier services and selecting the correct one is a key factor for ensuring eCommerce warehousing is profitable.
The delivery networks used by online retailers will define the customer service experience. Failed deliveries, damaged boxes, lack of updates or lost items all count very negatively in a world which has cost customer loyalty. People just move on.
the ability to switch courier at speed can save your business if the partner starts to falter.
Working with a software provider that will connect you to a range of services is a big advantage. Using several providers can help drive down cost by selecting services suitable to a region and size of shipment.
All courier businesses will incentivise volume so it might not be wise to spread too thinly however the ability to switch courier at speed can save your business if the partner starts to falter. Look for a provider who can switch your EDI links to a new carrier in hours, not weeks or months to ensure your online reviews stay very strong.
Speak to one of our team to understand how ClarusWMS’ simple cloud subscription platform can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service, better results and efficient stock taking 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.