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.
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 the 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.
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.
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 available stock which can help reduce losses and stockouts.
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.
29 October, 2021