We see many distribution executives driving through retail store replenishment where inventory never leaves the enterprise. There's a lot of flexibility here in terms of shipping from a retail DC to stores in an effort to address new item introductions and replenishing commonly purchased items. These certainly help with flexibility, but always come with a set of challenges. These hurdles represent a very complex set of requirements to fulfill from a single distribution center.
Our industry is pressured and stressed every year during the holiday season, and frankly, for the weeks and months running up to holidays to make sure that we're all ready. As we know, the first step is usually to load up distribution centers with new inventory to ensure the most popular items for the season are available and that the supply chains are filled at the front end. On the back end, there's a four-to-six-week period where there's a lot of distribution occurring from DCs to the store and DCs to e-commerce customers in order to deliver those packages to homes in time for the holidays.
If you have fast-moving products coming through the door, you can save time with what’s known as cross-docking. Instead of putting these products back on the shelf only to have your employees retrieve them hours later, direct them to a temporary staging area for scanning and inventory purposes. This temporary staging area should be close to the loading dock. When the products are ready for the next leg of their trip, your employees can quickly retrieve them and get them out the door without having to look for them on the shelf.
Repeating the same processes ends up increasing your labor costs. See the example of how documents like pick tickets sometimes have to pass through many channels; this can all be eliminated by using barcode technology, which is found in warehouses that use modern automated systems. Cut down on the time it takes to fulfill an order by using a system to manage purchase orders that gives you all the relevant information (pick list, SKU number, and location) to increase efficiency.
Allocating available inventory against current orders creates problems. There’s no algorithm to automate this subjective decision process. The allocation decision also invites personal bias, as customer service and sales representatives may steer available inventory to their own customers. One solution is better integration of sales and inventory data. While this could be a barrier for smaller companies with limited systems resources, many 3PLs have the experience and resources to integrate data from multiple systems to facilitate decisions. When combined with the company’s unique knowledge of the retail customer, decisions can made based on customer priority, not a “first-in, first-out” model that risks disappointing key customers.
Supply chain customer fulfillment organizations are undergoing significant transformation as a result of globalization and new digital capabilities. Recent research shows that 41% of players have a structure that is centralized across business divisions, but stand-alone by region. Learn the critical capabilities necessary to make centralization of customer fulfillment successful.
Customers and prospects operate multiple distribution center’s focused on retail store replenishment, some that are focused on e-commerce or wholesale. The most modern paradigm is those distribution centers have been optimized to handle retail store replenishment, wholesale and e-commerce all under one roof in order to leverage inventory, real estate and personnel.
With the increasing chatter about customer-centricity and personalization, stores are turning to Streaming Analytics — the use of real-time data to make and implement decisions. “Streaming Analytics is the ability to constantly calculate statistical analytics while moving within the stream of data. ”Retailers have used Streaming Analytics over the past few years and will continue to do so, given its impact on retailing.
Shoppers are increasingly drifting towards faster delivery. This is where pick-to-light comes in handy. A pick-to-light system, as its name implies, uses a lighting method to make inventory management easier. As operators pick items in a bin in your warehouse, they switch off a certain light that directs other store operators in the right direction. This helps operators find products in a warehouse or an inventory quickly and facilitates faster deliveries to customers.
To speed up the process of picking orders, avoid manually entering SKU’s, and instead, use a scanner or image capture on your smartphone or tablet in order to get the most up-to-date reading of your inventory. Beware that shrink wrapping, lamination, as well as certain color combinations can cause a barcode to not scan properly. Automated processes and set picking routes will allow you to optimize your warehouse management. Also consider changing the aisle width based on your forklift configuration.
Cycle counting is periodic counting of inventory within a warehouse to ensure that the physical inventory at the bin location matches the count reported in the warehouse management system. The theory behind cycle counting is that counting a smaller percentage of items on a more regular basis will lead to greater overall accuracy. These frequent inspections significantly reduce errors thereby maintaining incredibly high accuracy rates across the entire facility. The benefit is that organizations using this practice of inventory control can perform inspections at any time with little or no oversight.
Many cost optimization efforts adopt a functional approach which focuses on individual cost centers and categories. This session will provide insights on the critical role of supply planning to harmonize individual functions into a cost-optimized network response that maximizes the value from assets and delivers efficient customer outcomes.
The complexity of fulfilment operations within the retail environment continues to grow as offerings such as buy online pick-up in-store, supplier drop-shipping and ship-from-store grow in popularity. This is driving a rethink in how retailers view forecasting in their organizations, causing and evolution which incorporates traditional forecasting of where the sale will occur (e.g. we will sell 10 units in 4 weeks-time) with anticipating where the sale will be fulfilled from.
If a business’s various supply chain processes don’t work together, it can’t ensure across-the-board customer satisfaction. Larger companies generally have many private warehouses and distribution centers, managed by different in-house and outsourced operators, that run on different systems. As a result, they employ different tactics to ensure their supply chain runs smoothly. The key to solving this supply chain segmentation is to consolidate these processes, rather than let them function in silos.
Although digital transformation has received the lion’s share of attention from analysts and technology companies alike, businesses must take care not to lose sight of physical transformation. The method of flowing truckloads of products from large distribution centers to stores has become outdated. Businesses must update their supply chain and distribution networks to compete in this new market, in which speed of delivery and inventory reduction are paramount.
Running a warehouse these days is all about data. Digital technology can take the guesswork out of inventory and warehouse management with employees scanning products every step of the way. Your facility should collect as much data on your products as possible, including where they’re coming from, when they arrive, what condition they are in, where they’re going and when they’re set to leave.
Analytics solutions these days can be a powerful enabler for supply and demand planners to reveal insights and drive strategic and tactical actions in an agile manner. Analytics solutions can be successfully implemented into a company’s existing supply and demand planning process by focusing on three key steps in the implementation cycle: creating a single-source-of-truth data source; creating a centralized dashboard and reports that everyone can trust to collaborate; and creating a personalized dashboard and reports for each process owner and contributor.
In the world of omni-channel logistics, it’s crucial that businesses know the status of their inventory and whether it’s at a distribution center or retail location. The last thing a company wants is to promise next-day delivery to its customers and not be able to follow through. Inventory can be particularly challenging to keep track of during the holiday shopping season. To address this challenge, businesses must develop an efficient order fulfilment process through the use of a fine-tuned WMS.
S&OP has been around for decades, but today it is more valuable and more critical than ever. Global markets require a better balance between the priorities of customer service and cost. This requires a risk management process for both the demand and fulfillment sides of the business, and top management must be directly involved in the process.
The impact of digital transformation and connected commerce are resounding across industries. Forward-thinking companies around the world are challenging themselves to serve more customers, more quickly, more directly and more personally. In other words, omnichannel distribution projects aren’t just for retailers anymore, and warehouse technologies need to keep up. That’s why cutting-edge WMS now features an embedded Warehouse Execution System (WES) and powerful, new Order Streaming capabilities.
Both major enterprises and startups alike generally have relatively poor visibility into inventory in transit, which has led to an increasing demand for real-time freight visibility solutions. Leading omni-channel logistics solutions not only enable visibility into shipments and trucks, but into orders and stock-keeping units, as well. These solutions also incorporate optimization capabilities and collaboration capabilities that facilitate communication and the exchange of data and information between trading partners.
Seasonality, changes in the economy, weather, and many other factors play a role in volatility of demand. For example, a global financial crisis will result in decreased consumer confidence, and therefore, more products sitting in warehouses. Warehouses must always use timely and accurate information in order to forecast demand.
In warehousing operations, whenever items are broken, it becomes expensive. While some damage is inevitable, it can be greatly reduced through proper warehouse management. Always look for pallets that have broken planks, stringers, or nails because they can break. Pallets also have to be stacked, loaded and wrapped correctly. An efficient warehouse is going to be properly lit, clean, and one that avoids overloading shelves and racks. Rack safety netting, pallet rack column protectors, accumulation conveyors, low clearance warning bars, and steel guarding are all also important to install to protect both product and people.
From receiving, to put-away, to picking, to shipping, Voice has proven itself as a stronger, more efficient alternative to technologies like paper-based or RF scanner-based systems, and pick-to-light. With accuracy rates of up to 99.995% and productivity increases often between 15-25%, voice-enabled work demonstrates a direct payback to the bottom line - typically, in less than one year. Fortunately, the impact of voice technology is easy to calculate with a few common metrics.