Supply chain software developer Manhattan Associates Inc. has added a "waveless" order fulfillment feature to its warehouse management system (WMS) product that the company said will help retailers meet rising demands for the rapid and uneven shipping flows of e-commerce orders.
The feature is part of the "Active Supply Chain Solution" that Manhattan unveiled yesterday at its annual customer conference in Las Vegas. Manhattan's new "Active" suite of software products is designed to speed up inventory management and supply chain execution, whether orders originate in an e-commerce channel or a physical storefront, the Atlanta-based company said.
For years, warehouses aggregated order volume in batches and submitted them to distribution centers in bundled "waves." However, the rapid and unpredictable nature of e-commerce has required the development of technology that allows WMS users to handle warehouse orders in a constant stream. This option is part of the "Active Distribution" toolset of Manhattan's Active Supply Chain Solution suite.
"We are building a waveless warehouse execution system (WES) into our WMS to ensure that both human labor and equipment are used to their full potential," Manhattan President and CEO Eddie Capel said at the show. "Users can prioritize orders as needed to achieve peak utilization and avoid the peaks and valleys between waves."
By using what Manhattan claims is the market's first waveless outbound processing capability to be embedded directly into a WMS, users can increase asset utilization and improve facility output, enabling warehouse facilities to process both large shipments and individual consumer orders highly efficiently, the company said.
Increasing fulfillment capacity is a crucial part of transforming traditional supply chains into effective omnichannel businesses, according to retail giant and Manhattan customer Best Buy Co. Inc. "The customer is in charge," Rob Bass, Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy's senior vice president for supply chain, said in a session at the conference. "They have everything they need in the palm of their hand [with smartphones]. They're going to go omnichannel on you whether you're ready or not."
The electronics retailer deployed Manhattan's software in its DCs as part of a turnaround strategy that helped the company survive the "near-death experience" of almost going out of business four years ago, Bass said. "Fast and free [fulfillment] is the business now, and it's up to us in this room to make sure our companies can afford it," Bass said.