But what this crisis has already revealed is the true spirit of human inventiveness as many businesses have adjusted their game plans overnight – whether introducing direct to consumer e-commerce or new lines to meet changing demand. And for many this is going to be a permanent change, with the need to switch suppliers, invest in automation, reinforce online operations and identify risk mitigation strategies.
At the heart of this is advanced cloud-based WMS technology, such as SnapFulfil, that is key to ensuring the smooth flow in and out of goods, even when having staff on the ground is compromized due to sickness and there is a need to stockpile products. Five top considerations are:
- Location, Location, Location: WMS automates your putaway process and helps you to identify the best ‘location’ to store your goods based on the frequency items will be picked and whether they have special storage requirements. The aim should be that every item has a location, so pickers know exactly where to find things and a reference when it’s time to get it out the door.
- Pick Planning: A best-of-breed WMS will use data from the day’s orders to generate electronic ‘pick lists’ based on product locations. A pick list will offer pickers the most efficient routes to take, which can improve efficiency and productivity by up to 30 per cent, which is welcomed when operatives are in short supply!
- First In, First Out: By using the first in first out principles, a WMS will manage stock rotations based on a product’s shelf life, reducing waste and making sure products are as fresh as possible for your customers. This will also minimize shrink as all stock movements are accurately recorded and will let you know exactly when you need to re-order items.
- Quality Control: A cloud-based WMS brings control to a warehouse, which can be a complex and chaotic environment. It removes piles of paperwork by automating processes, helping to maintain efficiency and identify any issues within the warehouse. This could be a picker who is consistently slower than average at pulling orders, allowing you to address the situation appropriately.
- Realtime Data: Data is a key feature of advanced WMS, giving you access to a plethora of reports and trend analysis. These reports allow you to make better forecasting decisions based on solid fact and paint a detailed picture of a product’s lifecycle across the supply chain – from what you’ve sold to where you’ve sold it and frequency.
The benefits are clear with total control over your warehouse logistics – from stock and where to find it, storage space optimization, improved pick efficiency, despatch accuracy and most significantly, a quick return on investment. Finding a solution that has the flexibility to not only integrate with other technology platforms but also grow with your business are other important considerations when looking for a WMS partner.