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Warehouse Management

The FEFO Method for Expiry Date Inventory Management Guidelines

Industries that deal in perishable or low shelf-life products such as baby care, cosmetics, personal care, etc. can incur significant losses due to obsolescence or expiry of stock. It is, therefore, crucial for them to assign expiry dates for each batch, and push the near-expiry stock to the stores first. Automated WMS solutions now enable brands to pick as per expiry dates, and set accurate timelines and notifications, alerting them when a particular batch is about to get expired.

What is FEFO?

First Expiry First Out (FEFO) is a variant of the well-known First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method of stock rotation, but with a focus on a product’s expiry date, as opposed to its manufacturing date or date on which it was shelved in the warehouse. Under this technique, the product or batch with the earliest expiration date is pushed to the stores first, to avoid its obsolescence.

FEFO inventory management ensures that each product that is being sold is well within the expiry date, is fresh, and fit for consumption. FEFO also avoids the labour costs and efforts associated with inspection and checking of expiry dates, which could be quite tedious and time-consuming. With WMS tools like Increff WMS, brands can have complete visibility of their stock, and get help in expiry date management without being overwhelmed by any manual effort.

How can barcoding (inventory serialization) improve the supply chain

Barcoding or inventory serialization makes it highly convenient to manage inventory, and track products in the warehouse and throughout the supply chain. By storing the complete information of a product, a barcode avoids errors and inaccuracies, which could bleed across functions and snowball along the supply chain.

With barcoding, brands can benefit from automatic product identification, recognition, and data implementation. This means hours’ worth of effort is accomplished in a few minutes, significantly boosting the overall productivity and reducing labour costs.

One of the major benefits of barcoding is quality control and avoiding the obsolescence of products. A barcode stores batch numbers and product expiry information, which can be accessed by WMS tools to pick and ship the near-expiry batches first.

FEFO helps reduce inventory wastage

FEFO inventory rotation can improve your profitability and reduce wastage of inventory. By automating the entire process of exposing and shipping out the near-expiry batches first, retailers no longer have to be constantly worried about wastage due to inventory expiry. In the case of industries like food processing or fast-food chains, this method allows using up all the ingredients while they’re still fresh to consume, avoiding wastage and spoilage.

Benefits of FEFO warehouse and inventory software

Businesses get a number of benefits with a simple switch to a FEFO warehouse and inventory software. These have a significant impact on not just the backed processes but also their product marketability and brand reputation.

  1. Increased buyer confidence: Most customers check the product expiry dates while making a purchase at a store. Some customers who perceive a product to be too close to the expiration date can drop the idea of purchasing altogether. Product freshness is an important determinant of consumer interest across industries, especially in the case of products with low shelf life.

    With FEFO, you can get items off the shelves with the longest possible lead time on the expiration date. Distributors and stores receive the products well in advance of expiration. This gives the end customers a sense of confidence and establishes their faith in the brand, for always offering fresh products.
  1. Reduce the number of expired goods: Every retailer wants to ensure they eliminate or minimize the number of unsellable and expired goods on their shelves. With FEFO, they can ensure that their inventory management software picks and ships goods according to the approaching expiry dates. This reduces the risk of having unsellable goods on the shelves and also the piling inventory storage costs. FEFO enables retailers to avoid deadstock, and therefore also the cost of stock expiring on their shelves. 
  2. Manage physical layout of warehouses: With inventory management focussed on the expiry dates of a package, the warehouse follows a layout that enables faster and more convenient picking of items that are approaching their expiry date, thus streamlining the warehouse inventory management.
  3. Streamline the flow of items: It is very important for the warehouse staff to know the expiry dates of products and have an estimate of how long all the processes take on the floor. This ensures the items flow in a smooth way and the best results are guaranteed.

FEFO warehouse and inventory software automate your picking, packing, and shipping by keeping the expiry date at the very center of inventory management. This offers significant benefits in terms of streamlining your backend processes, enhancing your brand value, and boosting customer satisfaction.

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Warehouse Management

6 Critical Reasons to Outsource Your Warehousing Operations

When deciding whether to outsource warehousing and distribution, it is essential to consider if your business is experiencing rapid growth, struggling with inefficiencies, or spending too much money on warehousing and distribution. When faced with supply chain difficulties, you have a choice to make; you can keep trying to manage logistics internally or outsource your logistics to a warehousing and fulfillment partner. A warehousing provider can help you optimize your supply chain and improve business operations.

If you are unsure which option is best suited for your company, look for indications that might help you decide. The following are the most critical indicators that it may be the right time to outsource your logistics to a warehousing specialist:

  1. Need to scale your business faster

When a company proliferates, it often does not have the time or resources to manage its logistics. Outsourcing warehousing and distribution to a third-party provider can help businesses scale more quickly and efficiently. A warehousing partner can help you manage your inventory, shipping, and delivery processes, allowing you to focus on expanding your core business. The management need not worry about hiring and training new staff, high seasonal demand, quick order fulfillment, and so on. This gives managers the bandwidth required to take up more critical tasks that can help scale businesses faster by better allocating resources.

  1. Struggling with inefficiencies in your supply chain

If you are experiencing:

  1. Slower order fulfillment time leading to higher customer cancelations and lower sales 
  2. Mismanagement or loss of inventory inside the warehouse
  3. Inability to capture 100% orders from multiple sales channels
  4. Higher dependency on manpower within the warehouse and across the supply chain
  5. Delays and inaccuracies in order processing due to human decision-making errors

Outsourcing warehousing and distribution may be a good solution. A warehousing provider can help you optimize your supply chain and improve delivery time. Businesses need a WMS to report order statuses in real-time to succeed with omnichannel fulfillment. With advanced tech features provided by the service provider, retailers have greater flexibility in decision-making. Also, your company may choose which site, and how much space is best suited to fulfill a consumer order in the fastest time frame.

  1. Experiencing high costs associated with warehousing and distribution

If you spend a lot of money on warehousing and distribution, it may be time to outsource these operations to a warehousing partner. You can save money on labor, real estate, and other expenses by outsourcing. One of the biggest expenses associated with operating an internal warehouse is the capital investment required to set it up. By outsourcing this function, you can switch from a CapEx to an OpEx model, thereby freeing up locked cash flow. There will also be a significant cost reduction in updating the rapidly changing technology, warehouse management software (WMS), in the retail space.

Specialized warehousing partners focus on improving their services by updating to the latest technology. The cost reduction here is not just in terms of adopting new technology but also the efforts that will be spent on training the staff. One of the other advantages of outsourcing warehousing operations is the reduction in shipping costs. By working with a warehouse partner that has widespread centers, across the country, the shipping cost incurred to deliver the products to customers or other locations can be reduced. 

  1. Declining Customer Satisfaction

Late deliveries, mistakes and inaccuracies in order processing, and damaged products are all reasons for customer dissatisfaction. It is a priority to take action before your company’s reputation is harmed. This procedure begins by identifying supply chain problems and implementing modifications to your systems to address them. A more accessible and practical option is outsourcing your order fulfillment and shipments. With a warehousing partner handling these aspects of your company, you may observe how digitization, industrial kitting, and stringent quality control methods can improve consumer happiness. 

  1. Addressing fluctuating demand patterns

A demand surge is generally the consequence of many consumers rushing to buy supplies or goods simultaneously. Natural calamities, cultural events, such as the recent COVID-19 epidemic, and spontaneous changes in demand may result in supply chain disruptions and fluctuations in the market. By expanding or contracting warehouse operations as needed, a warehousing partner can assist businesses in attaining the desired scalability. These fluctuations often make it challenging to manage warehousing operations in-house resulting in loss of sales to more easily available competitor products. 

  1. Handling messy reverse logistics

A tried-and-true reverse logistics procedure is an excellent method to speed up return pick-up and processing, to minimize time and costs associated with returns management. With retail going omnichannel, it is essential to streamline returns processing for better sales. Distributed warehousing, and making return pick-ups geographically streamlined, by returning to the closest warehouse, will enable rapid re-commerce for the next purchase.

While the precise omnichannel order fulfillment strategy will vary from firm to firm, one thing is sure: companies are aware they must aggressively embrace Omnichannel selling and fulfill those purchases as quickly as possible. It is, therefore, a priority to understand the current stage of your company’s warehouse management system wms and order fulfillment process to decide if it may be time already to outsource your fulfillment solutions.

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Warehouse Management

How Brands Can Benefit From Outsourcing Warehouse Operations

Traditional warehousing may not cut it anymore to meet customer expectations of speedy order fulfilment. To support multi-channel sales – warehouse space, capacity, and operations should be optimised and aligned with the consumer demand. The main goal behind warehouse operations is to effectively store and distribute the product you sell at the shortest lead time and minimal cost. 

In the fast-paced digital age, one of the most crucial decisions businesses must make is the decision of warehousing. Retail brands may not always be experts in warehousing logistics, and companies must seek domain expertise to make operations more efficient and customer-centric. 

Here is a list of benefits that companies can derive by outsourcing warehousing and fulfilment solutions to a Warehousing provider

  1. Enhanced focus on core business operations: Warehousing is not the core business for any brand but a requirement. The case for outsourcing ‘non-core’ business operations is vital, especially if those operations are not direct revenue earners. Brands can focus on their areas of expertise and outsource warehouse operations to a company that specialises in them. This will free up time and resources for the business, which can be used for strategising and expanding the core business. 
  2. Multi-location presence: Many businesses have several warehouses to assist them to be successful in the competitive retail market. A competent outsourced order fulfilment service may help you determine your company’s best fulfilment centre locations based on your customer demographics.
  3. Domain Expertise: When your company contracts with a suitable outsourcing partner, excellent service backed by a comprehensive agreement are provided by people who are experts in the domain. A 3PL service provider has expertise and experience in transport documentation, import and export, worldwide compliance, and economic rules. Businesses considering expanding into foreign markets can benefit from the logistics assistance and knowledge that the outsourced partner can provide, reducing costly delays and cycle time and making entering a new area simpler.
  4. Reduced Costs: Warehousing and fulfilment are resource-intensive activities. By outsourcing warehousing to a third-party logistics provider, retailers can negotiate better warehouse space, labour, and transportation rates. This is because the 3PL already has the necessary infrastructure and can offer more significant economies of scale – infrastructure, operations or maintenance. Outsourcing warehousing operations can help you cut costs on employing warehouse staff, technology, infrastructure, security, insurance, etc.  
  5. Reduced CAPEX: With no in-house warehouses, your company is free from the associated property leases, warehouse workforce and equipment costs. Setting up a dedicated warehouse space and fulfilment centre requires substantial capital investments. The need for capital only increases as the sales volumes grow, tying up a lot of cash flow. Outsourcing warehouse and fulfilment solutions free up cash, allowing for better resource allocation.
  1. Trained Workforce: Training is essential. Strategic and competitive advantage can be gained by a skilled, well-trained, well-motivated supply chain team that is enthusiastic and confident. You will need an appropriately trained and motivated workforce to run a successful logistics operation. Warehouse outsourcing provides the necessary workforce trained in the latest operating methods. 
  2. Latest in Technology: When outsourcing warehouse operations, technology maintenance and upgrades are automatic, including costs in the negotiated contracted price. A warehouse fulfilment centre has complex processes – from material handling and storage to order picking-packing and shipping. It requires the latest warehouse technology, systems, and software to run smoothly. Also, warehouse processes are constantly evolving with the latest trends in fulfilment. A warehouse partner that is up-to-date on the latest warehouse technology and practices can bring immense value to your business.
  3. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Outsourcing your warehousing ensures that your business is partnering with professionals with a proven track record for success. A 3PL can help improve warehouse efficiency by streamlining processes and implementing best practices. This leads to increased order throughput and decreased order cycle times, which improves customer satisfaction. In addition, a 3PL is constantly innovating and implementing new technologies and solutions to improve warehouse efficiency. This helps businesses stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge.
  4. Easy Scalability: A 3PL can provide the necessary warehouse space and capacity to accommodate any business growth. In addition, a 3PL can quickly ramp up operations to meet seasonal demand or unexpected surges in demand. A 3PL can help companies achieve the desired scalability by expanding or contracting warehouse operations as needed. This allows companies to grow at an exponential rate without worrying about additional warehouse infrastructure and staff.
  5. Better Returns Management: 3PLs have experience managing both incoming and outgoing shipments. This knowledge allows logistics firms to handle almost any returns inexpensively without investing in technology or training. A well-managed return process is beneficial to your brand since it enhances brand loyalty and reflects positively.

Retail brands must seriously consider letting domain experts manage logistical aspects of the business. The right synergies with warehousing partners are more cost-effective and make for a streamlined order fulfilment process. The 3PL will take care of all the logistics for you, allowing you to focus on your core business activities.

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Smart Merchandising Technology Warehouse Management

How D2C Brands Scale Exponentially with New-Age Inventory Management & WMS Solution

D2C e-commerce is growing faster with increasing penetration of mobile and internet services, and the mushrooming growth of 3PL companies, especially in the urban areas. It offers benefits like cost-cutting, greater control of the supply chain, better quality management, and more efficient returns management. 

All 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 demand attention. Foremost is optimizing warehouse space 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, synchronize with the WMS and display complete product information on scanning the barcodes. The barcodes capture individual product details to 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. 

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 management is a serious concern for growing brands. 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, sync 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.

Markdown optimization for D2C brands

Setting the right price could be a daunting task for brands. Going too low could affect their relationship with retailers and confuse customers about the authenticity or quality of the products. Dynamic pricing, based on data-driven algorithms, takes into account a diverse set of factors like competitors’ prices, demand-and-supply dynamics, 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 Regional Utilization 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.

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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. 

Categories
Technology Warehouse Management

Perfect Warehousing Solution for Higher Efficiency and Inventory Management

Warehousing is an integral part of the supply chain where retailers can reduce costs by optimizing inventory, minimizing overheads, and speeding up the delivery time. Digitization and automation of processes help maximize space utilization, streamline operations through accurate inventory tracking, and promote productivity among workers to save time and money. 

Increff’s comprehensive WMS and OMS platform, recognized by Gartner and Forrester Research, is a cloud-based solution specialized for B2B and B2C e-commerce warehouse management and order fulfillment. It is designed to scale with the increasing demand of online sales and guarantees 100% inventory tracking by assigning a UPB (Unique Piece Barcode) to individual pieces, just like the IMEI number in phones, to boost efficiency in inventory management. Mobile barcode scanners create a low-cost, low-risk path for preventing human errors and capturing critical warehouse performance data for actionable insights. 

E-commerce-focused WMS and OMS – Increff WMS allows retailers to do more with less manual effort and thrive under increasing demand scenarios like peak sales season. It allows channel and/or SLA prioritization for faster picking and order fulfillment. The system generates picklists keeping in mind linear pick paths to avoid delays and allows smooth operations that can continue even during cycle count and inventory audits, without losing on sales opportunities. The live-inventory-order sync feature facilitates instant inventory updates to avoid order cancellations due to overbooking. Brands can expose 100% of inventory simultaneously across all sales channels and eliminate the need for safety stock thus keeping the inventory lean.

Benefits of serialization in inventory management

Built for 100% inventory accuracy, UPB captures every action on an individual item thus reducing the need for cycle counting or chances of inventory getting lost or misplaced.

  • Optimizing space utilization in the warehouse: Designed for a high level of inventory accuracy and order fulfillment, serialization allows easy storage of multiple SKUs in a single location, thus optimizing space utilization. Retailers can stock items at the nearest possible location and the system maps them during order picking so no piece is lost or misplaced.
  • Managing limited shelf-life products efficiently: Products that have an expiration date present unique challenges affecting efficiency, performance, and cost of operations. Mismanagement of expirable items can lead to loss or obsolescence. With Increff WMS’s expiry feature, retailers can trigger alert notifications for batches approaching their sell-by-date. It helps retailers push items in a FEFO (First Expiry First Out) manner to appropriate sales channels for faster sales. 
  • Auto-replenishment of fast-movers: Increff WMS’s auto-replenishment feature helps identify top seller SKUs and raises an alert notification when their quantity reaches a designated par level. It allows brands to maintain a steady stream of inventory without the risk of backorder pilling up or goods sitting for too long and incurring unnecessary carrying costs or loss due to spoilage and theft. 
  • Optimizing labour efficiency: Automated picklists can be generated to prevent mistakes and improve picking efficiency. Inventory serialization reduces travel time by suggesting linear pick paths and streamlining picking by embracing chaos and complete randomness. Barcodes direct warehouse pickers to locations, reducing walking and searching of items, and help in consolidating multi piece orders. It prevents human errors in high pick-volume situations through scan-based checks at order and box level. Image-based visual cues, at the time of scanning, ensure accurate picking. The automatic inventory update feature prevents manual intervention and multiple steps like counting, QC, and Bin putaway are consolidated in a single step which makes the inwarding process faster.   
  • Training and Development: Handheld devices and barcodes lower operational overhead costs by 20-25%, with less dependency on skilled labour. Increff WMS is easy to deploy and has a simple UX-UI design that facilitates training in less than 5 mins so employees can be highly productive starting from day one. 

Future-focused retailing is all about agility and flexibility in execution and data-driven decision-making. Technology solutions like Increff WMS reduce clutter by organizing processes to give a high level of clarity on business performance. It has helped brands achieve a 2-3x increase in sales and capitalize on increasing demand effortlessly. Handheld devices and serialization optimize processes and reduce errors by increasing accountability and a better trained, trusted workforce empowered with real-time data and analytics. Handle the increasing margin pressure in retail and excel in this hypercompetitive environment with the new-age warehousing solution.