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Warehouse Management

Choosing The Right WMS To Manage The Holiday Season Rush

Just as Thanksgiving approaches, everyone is looking forward to some time off and a bit of indulgence before the year comes to a close. While the general public makes their holiday plans, retailers are gearing up for the busiest time of the year, the most awaited event for bargain hunters, the holiday sales. Each year an unprecedented number of people make use of this opportunity to score discounts on their holiday shopping. While this may be a blessing for retailers, the fact is, a lot of planning, preparation, effort, and hard work goes into ensuring that the right stock is placed at the right location for maximizing sales and a joyful shopper experience. 

The pandemic pushed many customers to try the online route and even become addicted to a comfortable shopping experience. With more brands getting on marketplaces and some launching their D2C channels of sales, the digital ecosystem has become very competitive. Customer satisfaction highly depends on delivery speed and right order fulfillment. McKinsey’s research indicates that approximately one in five US consumers are prepared to pay a marginal increase in shipping fees for faster order delivery. 

This shift in customer expectations means that retailers have to ramp up their preparation for the holiday season, Black Friday & Cyber Monday, and build efficiencies in warehousing to ensure a smooth order fulfillment experience. During this time, the core strength of each retailer lies in its ability to swiftly and efficiently manage its warehouses. For retailers who are still using legacy systems, a sound investment in upgrading their Warehouse Management System (WMS) is required. Legacy warehouse management systems are not designed to resolve challenges posed by modern retail. To cater to the increasing demands, a new-age WMS offers transparency in inventory management along with increasing speed & accuracy in order fulfillment. These systems are fully digitized and built to provide 100% stock exposure across all channels of sale, real-time inventory-order sync, high order fulfillment accuracy, priority-based shipping, etc. to boost the overall efficiency of warehousing operations while getting it ready for the yearly rush around the holiday season. 

New-age technology solutions simplify and organize warehouse operations, and help retailers manage the holiday season rush during Black Friday & Cyber Monday, with the right inventory allocation.

Correct Inventory allocation and distributed warehousing

Challenge: Intelligent inventory distribution across warehouses to facilitate faster order fulfillment at lower logistics costs.

Solution: While season sales are the ideal time to get rid of the excess stock, it is imperative to plan for the high sales volume and stock up accordingly. A smart inventory allocation solution can help analyze regional demand and intelligently split inventory across a network of managed warehouses. Higher regional utilization allows faster order fulfillment and lowers logistics costs significantly.

Inventory Serialization

Challenge: Maintaining inventory accuracy and complete trackability in the chaos.

Solution: Once the stock reaches the warehouse each individual item is assigned a serial number/barcode to record its attributes and whereabouts in the warehouse. Serialization allows 100% tracking and builds efficiency in the warehousing processes through digitization. All operations are now scan-based and do not get impacted by delays in human decision-making. Serialization helps optimize the storage space by facilitating the storage of stock in the nearest available bin while making goods easily accessible. Stock can be stored in the nearest available bin as the WMS records the location, enabling pickers to access the products easily.  

Reordering and replenishment of fast-moving styles 

Challenge: Keeping bestsellers always in stock to maximize demand fulfillment and boost sales

Solution: New-age WMS can guide your decisions by providing insights on which styles are in high demand and need to be kept in stock. It helps retailers set alerts on when those styles need to be reordered or replenished, considering lead time, without any threat of stockouts during the sales season. As opposed to legacy systems, a new-age WMS provides 100% visibility of stock to all sales channels thus increasing chances of sales and reducing stockpiles.   

Live inventory-order sync

Challenge: Order cancellations due to excess booking by customers

Solution: With the real-time inventory order sync feature in Increff WMS, retailers can prevent order cancellations due to overbooking. As soon as an order is placed, the inventory is updated immediately across all marketplaces so customers are always updated on the available quantity. 

Faster order fulfillment

Challenge: Delay in order fulfillment leads to a higher rate of cancellations and returns

Solutions: Order volumes may skyrocket during the holiday season and your success as a retailer depends on being able to process orders efficiently. Faster order processing needs to happen while being error-free. A new-age WMS makes it easier by creating automated picklists and intelligent pick-paths based on the channel or order priority. With efficient wave-wise picking, labour hours can be optimized by allowing the picking of more items in the shortest time possible. Also, serialization enables all attributes, including the picture, of the scanned item to be visible to the picker to avoid errors in picking and ensure 100% order accuracy.

Packing

Challenge: Wastage in packing material and multiple shipments

Solution: Modern warehousing integrates order processing from all channels of sale. It assigns priority to orders and consolidates the packing of multiple orders from the same source, in the pigeonhole at the packing station, to reduce the number of shipments. This can support your company’s sustainability goals while reducing logistics costs. 

Returns management

Challenge: Tracking of returns and faster resale

Solution: As you get through the sales period, the next bout of chaos to hit your warehouse is returns. According to Forbes, the value of returned items was projected to be $47 – $57 billion in 2020. Compared to brick-and-mortar stores, online returns can be as high as 30% during the holiday season. While you may have the order fulfillment process mastered, it is equally important to manage returns adeptly. Serialization of stock is a crucial step that ensures no stock remains untracked or gets wasted in the returns process. As each item in the warehouse is serialized and entered in the WMS, the returns become uncomplicated as products can be tracked through the entire journey.  After a quick quality check, the returned items can be put back into circulation as an available stock which can help reduce losses and stockouts.

Audit

Challenge: Ensuring operational processes meet quality standards

Solution: The last step after the holiday season marathon is taking stock of your company’s performance and conducting an audit to get a holistic picture. With Increff WMS, this becomes easier as data and insights can be obtained with a click of a button, customized to the needs of the stakeholders. Serialization simplifies the auditing process and no separate audit is required as all orders that have been processed are recorded and tracked through the WMS. This can provide valuable insights and point out areas of improvement at the warehouse. 

Increff Warehouse Management Solutions are equipped to perform all these tasks and manage the holiday season chaos while supporting strategic decisions such as manpower management. As the pandemic has forced the hand of retailers to reduce staff across functions, technology as such WMS can make sure that businesses can run smoothly and continue to make profits without compromising on customer satisfaction levels. 

Thinking of investing in a smart WMS? Get in touch with the Increff team to get to know our WMS offerings which can be deployed remotely in less than 10 days with no disruption to your ongoing operations. 

Categories
Technology Warehouse Management

How Fast-Growing Fashion Brands can Scale E-Commerce Fulfillment with new-age WMS

From the catwalk, straight to the customer’s closet in less than a few weeks. Fashion trends, subsequently the fashion industry, have evolved rapidly in the last few years. Earlier, the turn of the season was a process that took weeks and months of planning. Now trends change with each fashion show and celebrity outing. 

Main challenges faced by the fashion industry

As fashion influencers and celebrities document their every look on social media, inspiration is available in abundance. These looks are recreated and brought to the shops in record time. Here lie two of the biggest challenges of fashion retail – short-lived trends and fluctuating demand.  

Rapidly changing trends leave older stock out of fashion. To avoid turning this into deadstock, it has to be sold at discounted prices which lowers the profitability. Fashion, especially the apparel industry, is subject to immense demand uncertainty. This is mostly because fashion sales are highly influenced by external factors. With social media taking center stage, these trends change in the blink of an eye. For a retailer, being able to roughly ascertain demand and push the stock to convert it into sales in time is a massive advantage. 

Finding an advantage 

As the catalyst of change here is technology, the answer to these challenges is also technology. Just as the fashion industry is adapting to this new fast-paced way of operating at the backend, the retailers must also keep up and integrate technology to ensure that they aren’t left behind. 

At the order fulfillment level, a new-age Warehouse Management System (WMS) can solve many of these problems. Let’s take a look at the order fulfillment process and some ways in which a modern WMS  can help retailers function optimally. 

  • Receiving Goods – The stock received at the warehouse undergoes a quality check before it can be made live on marketplaces and made available for sale. At this stage, each piece is assigned a serial number/barcode, that captures all product attributes including a picture for better searchability during tracking. Automated warehousing helps optimize space in the warehouse by allowing storage of multiple SKUs at the nearest available location. The system keeps a record of the location and maps them during order picking so no piece is lost or misplaced.
  • Order Processing –  Once an order is placed, the automated WMS assigns priority to the picking process based on the delivery date committed to the customer at the time of sale and the channel of sale. Priorities are allotted to orders from across channels, ensuring order fulfillment is completed within stipulated time irrespective of the geographical source of the order. An automated picklist is created and scan-based picking ensures error-free first-time-right operations. Visual cues like the images linked to a barcode, guarantee flawless picking. When the barcode/serial number on an item is scanned, all the details of the item are displayed. This minimizes the chances of errors in order processing and improves efficiency. Consolidated packing at the pigeonhole reduces the number of shipments to the customer while saving the retailer additional logistics and packing costs. A priority-based fulfillment process eliminates the possibility of late deliveries
  • Returns – According to Invespcro, around 23% of the orders are returned due to incorrect product delivery to the customer. Increff WMS can help make the returns process efficient with serialization. Barcode mapping helps in tracking the item through the entire return and quality check process. If the item matches quality expectations, it can be made available for sale immediately, saving time and avoiding loss in sales opportunities.  

Serialization helps in obtaining 100% stock visibility across all channels of sale at all times. Real-time inventory-order sync reduces the chances of order cancellations due to overbooking.

Increff WMS is equipped to effectively manage products that have an expiration date by triggering an alert when the sell-by date is approaching. It also has an auto-replenishment feature which raises an alert when the quantity of stocks reaches a designated par level. This allows for the uninterrupted and smooth functioning of the warehouse without any delay in orders or deadstock piling up.

Investing in an intelligent WMS provides retailers the potential for scalability. An increase in demand can be extremely unprecedented in the fashion industry. With its many features, a WMS can optimize storage space, escalate the processing of orders, and prepare for a surge in demand without additional investments. 

Increff WMS is designed keeping in mind the challenges of integrating a new system into the existing infrastructure, and it is equipped to merge with the existing ERPs without roadblocks and downtime. Deployment and onboarding can be done in less than 7 days without disruptions to everyday operations. The intuitive and simple interface makes it possible for everyone to adapt to it quickly and workers can be trained in less than 5 days. To face the constant challenges presented by the fashion industry, it is important to have technology and preparedness on your side as a retailer. Elevate your efforts with the foundation of future-ready technology to match the pace of the fashion industry by investing in a WMS.