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Smart Merchandising Technology Warehouse Management

How D2C Brands Can Scale Exponentially with New-Age Inventory And Warehouse Management Solution

D2C e-commerce is growing leaps and bounds, aided by factors like increasing penetration of mobile and internet services, and the mushrooming growth of 3PL companies, especially in the urban areas. D2C offers a number of benefits such as cost-cutting, greater control of the supply chain, better quality management, and more efficient returns management. It is thus a forward integration of sorts, wherein the brand takes care of its order fulfillment processes. 

All of this requires automated support in terms of inventory storage, order management, packaging, and logistics. This is where a new-age Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) plays a crucial role in inventory management for D2C businesses.

Inventory management and merchandise planning for e-commerce

As soon as brands take charge of their supply chain, a number of technical areas would require their attention. Foremost of these is optimizing the space of the warehouse to expedite order picking and smoothen overall order processing. Synchronizing incoming orders and inventory, establishing the best possible floor plans, and picking rules, are some of the prime functions of a new-age WMS. 

Maintaining inventory accuracy with unique piece barcoding assigned to each incoming piece in the warehouse is critical. Hand-held devices used for order picking, synchronizes with the WMS and display complete product information on scanning the barcodes. The barcodes capture individual product details that help detect their exact location within the warehouse. It increases accountability by recording details of every action performed on the item within the warehouse, and also ensures order picking efficiency, enhances accuracy, and prevents errors. 

Packaging is another important area that must be managed accurately. With an automated WMS, you can simply map your SKUs to the packaging material, allowing you to pack correctly and ship quickly.

Assortment planning, space management, and in-season planning are some aspects of inventory management orchestrated by an automated inventory management solution. These solutions make use of analytics and algorithms to ensure inventory planning is aligned with the long-term strategy of a brand for a given customer segment.

Managing returns and rapid re-commerce

Returns can be a serious challenge for growing D2C brands on a high-volume trajectory. To keep returns under check and the cost of re-commerce under control, D2C returns management requires an automated solution.

An automated WMS helps brands accept incoming orders, merge them with the inventory, and ship them as soon as possible. It helps trace returns, avoids delays, streamlines return management, and reduces the cost of return logistics. Products spending too much time on their way back to the warehouse are at a greater risk of getting damaged. Returns management solution finds the shortest route back, enabling brands to expose the stock for resale as soon as possible. It sorts products into categories such as refurbished, resalable, and unsaleable, based on which it disperses them in the value chain. As D2C brands seek to gain complete control of their supply chain, a comprehensive returns management policy is necessary and must be centered on automated returns management software.

Dynamic markdowns for D2C brands

D2C pricing could be a daunting task for brands due to many reasons. For starters, brands never like to undercut their retailers selling the products at a certain price. Going too low could affect their relationship with their retailers and also confuse customers about the authenticity or quality consistency of the products. Dynamic pricing, based on data-driven algorithms, takes into account a diverse set of factors like competitors’ prices, demand-and-supply dynamic, and levels of inventory. Dynamic pricing in e-commerce helps brands keep their pricing aligned with their channel strategy in a given marketplace.

Demand-based inventory distribution

For brands expanding over larger geographies, distributing inventory to multiple warehouses, so that the products are located closest to the customers, is the best way to reduce costs and ensure quick fulfillment. As brands expand their businesses, it becomes more expensive to ship products from a single warehouse as compared to renting out space at multiple locations. Tools such as Increff Distributed Inventory Optimization tool ensures brands and retailers have the right levels of inventory as close to their customers as possible. The tool is completely web-based and performs millions of computations within minutes to find the right level and style of stock for each fulfillment center. 

D2C poses a number of challenges for brands but automation offsets these by providing sharp insights, precise allocation, and efficient handling. This makes brands highly competitive by keeping a check on delays, costs, labor overheads, and space or stock wastage.

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Technology Warehouse Management

How To Choose The Best WMS For Your E-Commerce Business To Maximize Revenue?

With the increasing digitization of inventory records, product codes, and warehouse registers, human intervention in warehouse management has decreased drastically. To ensure seamless inventory management, a cutting-edge e-commerce Warehouse Management System (WMS) is essential.

Formidable challenges like planning and tracking inventory, minimizing delays in fulfillment, and holding minimum possible inventory can be effectively tackled by having only the best e-commerce WMS in place. Having a water-tight strategy for e-commerce order fulfillment and warehouse management can significantly boost your customer experience and loyalty, which will subsequently translate into improved revenues and profitability in the long run.

How to choose the right WMS

There are a number of factors to consider while choosing the right WMS. Here are the main ones:

  • Accuracy: An inaccurate or misplaced entry can create huge, unnecessary complexities across business functions. Precision is one of the most essential features of a WMS to avoid inexplicable losses and complications.
  • Scalability: As the e-commerce business grows and expands, the WMS must also be able to catch up. New-age This requires a predetermined understanding with the supplier in terms of integrations and technology upgrades.
  • ROI: It is important to consider all the costs that come with a WMS, including the hidden costs of training, integrations and upgrades. A seemingly cheaper WMS can often carry higher hidden costs. A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, keeping your requirements in mind, is essential.
  • Integrations: Rather than spending extra on writing integrations, it is better to have a WMS that has a catalogue of existing off-the-shelf integrations. Integrations make your WMS more flexible by allowing it to interface with other ERP solutions seamlessly.
  • Cloud vs. On-site: Having a cloud-based WMS is often cost-effective in terms of upgrades and maintenance since the vendor is responsible for both. Cloud-based solutions also allow you to avoid any equipment-based expenditure.
  • Ease-of-use and training: Having an intuitive and user-friendly WMS allows your employees to adopt it without any training overheads and errors. This is especially important when you hire an ad hoc workforce in times of peak demand.

What to expect from an ideal WMS for online commerce? 

E-commerce Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) can help streamline processes by tracking the inventory within the warehouse and improving e-commerce warehousing significantly. Let’s look at some benefits that an ideal e-commerce WMS software provides:

  • An efficient inventory management system streamlined through automation
  • Optimal inventory visibility and tracking of diverse styles and quantities through a fully digitized process
  • Reduced inventory holding by selling more stock through 100% inventory exposure
  • Reduced operational costs due to minimal manual work required
  • System of automated alerts for soon-to-expire items ahead of time
  • Minimized delay and loss because of computerized inventory with no room for human error
  • Increased scalability and flexibility for your business with no audit delays
  • Faster e-commerce order processing and online order fulfilment 
  • Maximum sales captured with no minimum holding required 
  • Increased revenue for your business through more efficient business processes

How can efficient warehousing help e-commerce brands capture maximum sales and increase revenues?

E-commerce WMS helps enhance customer experience, retention, and loyalty by providing the following benefits:

  • User-friendly and intuitive WMS is great for online retail warehouse staff. The WMS comes with a simple-to-use dashboard customized as per the stakeholder’s level and requirement. With Increff WMS, inter-warehouse transfer of stock is also possible.
  • An ideal e-commerce WMS solution simplifies order picking and packing and ensures accuracy through serialization. It greatly improves inventory visibility and helps ensure correct shipment, complete and accurate order fulfilment, and a shorter cycle time overall. It also reduces the inventory holding period and makes upscaling your e-commerce business more feasible. Being completely automated, the entire process is paperless, uses little manpower, and eliminates the chance of human error.
  • A WMS provides a single view of inventory across the marketplace and a seamless order-inventory sync in less than 30 seconds. You can switch to such a system in as little as under 7 days without overhauling your entire warehousing system. The process of transition itself is also hassle-free. For instance, the time taken to train new users to switch to Increff’s Assure WMS solution is only 5 minutes. Besides, no data is lost in transition or system downtime. 
  • Best warehouse management systems for online retailers can guarantee 100% e-commerce order fulfilment. It ensures minimized lead time and logistical costs due to optimal inventory management. This contributes substantially to higher sales and revenue, thus positioning your e-commerce business as a strong contender amidst competing brands.

A great WMS solution thus lies at the very heart of modern e-commerce warehouses, enabling brands to reach out to their customers more efficiently and helping them excel in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

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Regional Utilization Technology Warehouse Management

How Demand-Based Inventory Distribution Helps Future-Proof Your E-Commerce Business

As competition intensifies across the e-commerce space, brands must offer faster deliveries and efficient order fulfillment to stay competitive. Being able to project demand accurately and maintain inventory levels according to customer expectations is crucial.

A major factor influencing customers’ perception of a brand is the time taken by a retailer to deliver an item to their doorstep. Efficient and accurate order fulfillment has become key to building a strong e-commerce customer base, and it is equally critical for small and large businesses. While global brands/large businesses need to maintain their brand reputation and customer base, smaller brands need to build their customer base with perfect order fulfillment.

These trends are closely linked to demand-based inventory distribution and help brands create more efficient supply chains, ensuring better customer retention, brand loyalty, and soaring revenues.

The need for optimized demand-based inventory distribution

Optimized, demand-based inventory distribution allows brands to not just save on unnecessary logistical costs, but also avoid frustrating delays. It has helped brands save 10-12% on logistics and enhance overall margins by 30%. There are four main ways in which maximum regional utilization supports demand-based distribution:

  1. Faster deliveries: E-commerce customers these days expect same-day deliveries from brands. Storing items in the warehouse closest to the customers enables brands to fulfill orders quickly and maintain faster delivery cycles.
  2. Low rate of returns: Fulfilment delays are one of the major factors behind order returns. Demand-based inventory distribution ensures delivery of items within SLAs and reduces the rate of returns significantly.
  3. Splitting inventory smartly: Regional utilization allows brands to split inventory amongst warehouses in such a way that demand is always fulfilled from the nearest warehouses. Demand analysis is conducted at the pin code level and helps reduce order transit time, mishandling or damage in transit, and lower shipping costs.
  4. Cutting down on logistics costs: SKUs suggested by smart RU solutions are based on the best possible Pincode level warehouse-products mapping. The algorithm runs by processing data such as regional demand, warehouse capacity, and seasonality.

Tools to optimize regional utilization

Increff Distributed Inventory Optimization tool helps distribute inventory in a smart way to enable faster shipments at lower shipping costs. It enables brands and retailers to optimize Regional Utilization (RU) at the pin-code level in a hassle-free way. Since inventory placement services can be quite complex for brands with a high number of SKUs and low depth, constant demand analysis, and in-depth logistics planning are required. With this module, brands can leverage smart inventory allocation across multiple warehouses, and achieve higher regional utilization by warehouse fulfillment outsourcing locally. 

The role of distributed warehousing in demand-based inventory distribution

Distributed warehousing also known as cloud warehousing, allows brands to partner with third-party logistics (3PL) service providers, and rent warehouse space in different locations to stock inventory based on local demand. This provides several advantages to e-commerce brands including increased efficiency, reduced long-term rent, storage costs, shipping costs, and faster order fulfillment.

  • Distributed warehousing helps brands minimize risks in case of local emergencies such as fire or natural catastrophe. Having products located at various locations helps insure against such risks.
  • Distributed warehousing also allows you to enter new markets rather than be restricted to one region. As your capacity for fulfillment increases in a new market, all that is required is a marketing effort to establish a new customer base.
  • When a product is located closest to the customer, it is very likely that it appears with the highest ranking on a marketplace. This is because the speed of delivery is one of the heaviest weighted parameters for product ranking.
  • As you expand and start selling higher volumes across regions, the shipping costs from a single warehouse will exceed the cost of an additional e-commerce warehouse. Expansion across regions, therefore, necessitates distributed warehousing.

How cloud warehousing helps e-commerce businesses?

It helps brands avail outsourced warehouse distribution across geographies and benefit from higher visibility on the marketplace. Increff’s Cloud Warehousing service, for example, is an outsourced warehouse distribution service. This lies at the heart of smart inventory placement services through which brands can distribute stock to multiple 3PL warehouses across the country for better delivery to the end-consumer. 

Warehouse outsourcing benefits brands in ways beyond just reducing logistical costs and minimizing delays. It offers the flexibility to switch from CapEx to OpEx model of operations and ensures efficient management of warehousing without additional operational bandwidth. It can be implemented within 7 days, and a pay-per-use model, resulting in immediately reduced lead time, inventory holding, logistics, and overall costs, leading to increased customer satisfaction, sales, and profitability margins.

As competition intensifies in the e-commerce space, brands are expected to be more responsive and proactive towards their markets. With the help of demand-based inventory distribution, you can future-proof your e-commerce business against fluctuating demand, stay competitive, and grow steadily. 

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Technology Warehouse Management

How to Choose a Warehouse Management System

A warehouse management software is vital to the successful management of the warehouse. Research shows that it can improve warehouse efficiency by 27% by facilitating timely order fulfillment, packing, and picking. Owing to that it is essential to know how to choose a warehouse management system from the different types of WMS available.

When used correctly, WMS can propel your warehouse to unprecedented levels of success. Some benefits of using a WMS system include:

  • Efficient labor management
  • Accurate inventory and management
  • Reduced paperwork
    So, what factors must you consider when choosing a warehouse management system? Here is your complete guide on how to choose a warehouse management system.

Analyze Your Need for a WMS

One cannot emphasize just how big a commitment getting a WMS is. Not only do you have to spend money on the technology, but you also need to train your employees to use it and acquire the hardware and infrastructure you need to make it functional.

Therefore, it is critical that you thoroughly analyze your need for the system. Otherwise, a lot of time, effort, and resources will go down the drain unnecessarily.

Size is one of the biggest influencers in installing a WMS. If you have a big warehouse with multiple floors and endless storage units, it goes without saying that managing it can be quite a challenge. In such a scenario, a WMS will prove invaluable. But this is not to say that smaller warehouses cannot benefit from WMS. If your warehouse’s storage and removal processes are complex, you also stand to gain a lot from WMS.
For instance, if you store products for an e-commerce store, you may find that packaging requires more attention to detail. This is because you have to pack each customer’s order individually, ensuring that you do not mix up their purchases.
By contrast, if you deal with a business that generally requires items in bulk, packaging and shipping are relatively straightforward. Therefore, with the e-commerce store, investing in a WMS makes good economic sense.
Additionally, if products require specific conditions for shipping, this can add a layer of complexity to the packing process. For instance, if some goods require refrigeration during shipping, while others need to be frozen, you need to take extra care to ensure that they reach the destination in good condition. For this, a WMS can come in real handy.

Budget For Warehouse Management System

Another critical consideration when choosing a WMS is your budget. You don’t want to invest in an expensive system only for you to discover one year later that it does little to boost your business efficiency.
Warehouse management systems typically come in three tiers. The cheapest tier, usually known as a Tier 3 WMS, performs the most basic warehouse management functions. These include confirming and tracking inventory and stock.
A Tier 2 WMS performs more complex functions, including:

  • Managing customer portals
  • Reporting
  • Providing restocking, receiving, and storage guidelines

The most expensive systems (Tier 1 WMS) can perform more complicated tasks like assigning work to employees, guiding them to the correct location of the goods they want, forecasting, and improving response times.

Another way to gauge the cost of a WMS is by listing down the price of each item. For instance, you need to consider the licensing, training, development and upgrading, and support costs. For this, you should have a candid conversation with your provider to get an accurate figure on the cost of the system.

While discussing the costs with your provider, beware of hidden charges. These may include seemingly small expenses like travel costs that accumulate to outrageous sums over time. Additionally, comparing WMS costs can help you negotiate the pricing better.

When creating a budget for your WMS, the final tip is to consider the 5-year cost of using the system, inclusive of the hardware and infrastructure costs. If the figure makes business sense and you will get worthwhile returns, acquire the system by all means.

Ensure Seamless Integration with Existing Systems

Supply chains stretch beyond the confines of a business and encompass 3rd party services. While an ERP might be able to unify the internal business, the logistics aspects of a business need to be handled efficiently with a specialized WMS. The relationship that your business has with your ERP vendor will impact the success of a WMS. You need to communicate and have a good working relationship from the start. The integration needs to allow for seamless data communication between both systems.

This is critical when the information is used for internal work and communicated with internal or external partners. Both systems can speak the same language, so new data does not have to be re-entered daily. This causes errors and isn’t good for business.

Request for Information on How to Choose a Warehouse Management System

You have already settled on whether you need a WMS system and how much you can spend on it by this point in your decision-making journey. Now it is time to contact vendors for offers.
The best way to do this is to create a Request for Information or RFI form. This form is a questionnaire to help you obtain the requisite information.
Start by describing your business, what it does, your vision for it, and how the WMS fits into your business. You should also discuss your warehouse at length, providing pertinent details such as:

  • The number of loading bays
  • Picking and packing locations
  • The average number of transactions in a day
  • The primary users of the system, like pickers, packers, forklift users, or management
     

Then, create a list of questions you wish your provider to answer. For instance, you may request information about:

  • Their area of specialization and expertise
  • Owner of the system’s source code
  • WMS features
  • Average size of their clients
  • Number of clients and sites using their product
  • Ease with which you can connect multiple warehouses
  • Ease of integrating the WMS to your ERP,
  • Availability of pre-built marketplace integrations
  • Level of support you can expect from them
  • Estimated cost of using their product
     

When creating your RFI, it is best to refrain from describing how you intend the product to work. This is because you may cloud the ingenuity of your provider, thus blocking out more efficient and possibly cheaper options that would be the best fit for your business.

The Provider’s Commitment

The final consideration for choosing a WMS is the provider’s commitment to your company. The relationship you develop with your provider can be critical to the success or failure of your business.
You can gauge a provider’s commitment to your business on their enthusiasm and response to your concerns regarding the systems. A committed warehouse management system provider will always look for the most efficient solution to your issues and point out a cause of action that best serves your needs.

The Final Word on How to Choose a Warehouse Management System

No doubt choosing the perfect warehouse management system from the different types of WMS available can be complicated. However, there are numerous factors to consider settling for a well-serving warehouse management system as mentioned above.
If you are looking for a reliable WMS provider, look no further from our company. We will guide you extensively on how to choose a warehouse management system that best fits your needs. So, contact us today to start the conversation on the best options of WMS for your business.