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Business Warehouse Management

10 Unrealized Benefits of Serialization

Itemized serialization pays rich dividends to your business by optimizing processes, making inventory 100% traceable, minimizing human errors, and increasing transparency throughout the supply chain. Here are 10 unrealized benefits of serialization for the brands:

  1. Inventory accuracy and traceability

Serialization detects and prevents duplicate scanning of items thus ensuring 100% accuracy. Since all the information is stored in the barcode, it is very easy to trace its journey within a warehouse and through the supply chain.

2. Easy tracking of user and machine actions

Since barcode scanning allows capturing 100% data in the system, in case an incorrect step is taken by a staff member it can be easily tracked. Brands can get down to the exact item barcode which is faulty, and the staff member that has made the mistake. This makes error mapping quick for training purposes and helps identify loopholes in the processes. This is not possible to record on SKUs as the number of items having the same barcode are many and zeroing in on the exact faulty item is difficult. 

3. Automate processes to reduce the resource time investment

Rather than using lengthy spreadsheets or approximations for taking crucial warehousing decisions, serialization enables easy automation of processes. Consolidating multiple steps helps reduce manpower and handle repetitive tasks more efficiently allowing managers to focus only on important tasks. It avoids costly errors and consequent business losses.

4. No need for wall-to-wall audits

In an SKU-based system, conducting wall-to-wall physical verification of the items require all operations of the warehouse to stop in order to avoid recounting the same items. This is not an issue with itemized serialization as each item has a unique ID and is perfectly mapped to the bin. With real-time inventory sync, in case there is any change the barcode will ensure it gets captured in the system. With 100% bin level inventory accuracy, regular wall-to-wall audits are not required.  

5. FIFO and FEFO for order picking

By having all the information accurately stored in the barcodes, brands can prevent piling up of aging inventory, obsolescence, and wastage. As the product expiry date of each item gets mapped to the barcodes, brands can use the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) algorithm to push out those items that entered the warehouse first. This method is widely used in industries where inventory is prone to obsolescence, such as fashion. 

Likewise, the expiry date of each item being stored, items expiring first are sold off first by the First-Expiry-First-Out (FEFO) method. Companies dealing in perishable products such as packaged milk or pharmaceuticals mostly use the FEFO method.

6. Location Adherence in Picking

In a scenario where an SKU is distributed among several bins and the whole SKU is represented by a single barcode, the picker may pick the items from any bin thus impacting bin level accuracy. SKU-based order picking will either not specify which bin the item needs to be picked from, or the system will not prompt an error when the item is picked from a mapped location. This can lead to inventory mismanagement, obsolescence, and errors in counting. On the other hand, when picking is done by following the individual barcode of each item, the picker will pick the item from the bin specified by the system. This ensures the inventory count is accurate at all times, there is no need for regular audits, and there is 100% traceability within the warehouse. 

7. Effective price analysis with the possibility for daily margin adjustments

Processes get interrupted whenever prices are revised in the stores. With serialization, brands can keep track of their cost prices and sales prices dynamically for different items. Margin adjustments can be made at individual style and piece level. Given the fact that the inventory is completely digitized, brands can easily adjust the prices of their stock depending upon the demand and location. 

8. Efficient returns management and processing

Serialization allows brands to link each returned item’s barcode with its reason for return. This makes for great insights into why customers are rejecting the products and what corrective measures must be taken. Repeatedly returned items can be quarantined for a thorough quality check, to understand the defect. Rather than creating new SKUs, serialization of inventory enables brands to send the exact item back to the vendor in RTV (return-to-vendor). As soon as a serialized item is returned, it can be made live immediately (depending upon its condition), expediting re-commerce and increasing the chances of resale. 

9. Easy SPF (Seller Protection Fund) claims to process 

When the exact reason for return is mapped to individual pieces of inventory, along with the image, it is easier for marketplaces to file a claim with brands for the rejected item. This ensures quick reconciliation with the brands.

10. Simple UX/UI for faster order processing

Serialization helps digitize the warehousing process and allows brands to use handheld devices or Bluetooth scanners for scanning items. This eliminates chances of human error and enables working with an automated system accessible through a simple UX/UI. All of this precludes the need for costly high-skilled labor, cuts down on training time, easy cross functioning, and ensures faster order processing.

As is clear from the above pointers, serialization lies at the very heart of automation in warehouses and is the first step toward making supply chain processes more efficient, cost-effective, and highly competitive. 

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Technology Warehouse Management

Who Says Automation is with Robots? Think Beyond!

While robotics has a significant role in automation, it is not the only way to achieve it. Robotics consists of robots/ machines substituting human labor, automation brings together machines, software, and upgraded technologies to perform tasks that are otherwise performed manually. In fact, investment in robots is a rather expensive affair! New-age warehouse management systems are smart and affordable to introduce automation in your warehouse.

Many fears of job losses are associated with the idea of automation. However, these fears are largely unfounded as automation merely seeks to supplement and empower human effort. By taking over critical decision-making and manual labor, automation boosts efficiency in processes and enhances accuracy many times over.   

In this blog, we bring forth the vast number of ways in which automation is reshaping the tasks and functions of supply chain management, and turning warehouses into incredible high-tech facilities!

Serialization of inventory: Serialization and barcoding allow effective tracking of inventory in the warehouse. It allows auto-mapping of inventory located at the time of picking, thus saving significant time and manual effort in searching for the same. Some activities are clubbed together and consolidated with serialization, thus making the process faster.

Much of our supply chain efforts revolve around seamless communication in mapping and locating the stock. Items can be easily scanned using wireless devices such as Bluetooth scanners, smartphones, handheld terminals, and barcode scanners. Wireless devices enable an easy workflow as the staff can conveniently carry them around to read barcodes and capture data in the central repository. 

Simple UX/UI: Solutions offered by Increff are easy-to-use and cost-effective owing to their user-friendly UX/UI which doesn’t require any specialized or prolonged training. Besides, in case of any errors by the staff, the system automatically blocks the user from advancing further, unless the wrong entry is resolved. This eliminates any chances of errors creeping into the system, which could snowball into costly mistakes right across the warehouse and beyond. 

Holidays and end-of-season could be strenuous for employees but a simple and user-friendly UX/UI can go a long way in reducing stress. An easy-to-use UX/UI permits collaboration and sharing of resources during peak hours to maximize manpower utilization. A user-friendly UX/UI ensures zero dependencies on skilled labor, so it’s easy to recruit extra hands in the time of need. The training time of 5 minutes, makes the system highly cost-effective and adaptable. 

Automated pick-list generation: Picklists can be generated basis channel and SLA priority. There’s no need to put the same styles or SKUs in the same bill. Serialization identifies barcodes and bins, to automatically generates picklists for wave-wise picking. The picker can then perform wave picking to save time and effort. Each item is picked and scanned. In case the picker chooses the wrong item, it will be automatically rejected by the system. This helps reduce errors in picking.

Put-to-light storage: To save time and boost efficiency while storing the products on the warehouse shelves, light devices are used to direct the operators. This semi-automatic technique enables the operator to ‘put’ the items in the right pigeon-hole where the light flashes. 

Infinite scalability: Serialization enables the warehouse staff to perform chaotic putaway. All the items are brought to the same sorting table. Barcodes are then scanned to read the order-related information after which the items are sent out on their respective routes. Chaotic putaway and storage allow maximum warehouse space utilization, and deal with remarkably huge volumes!

Seamless returns management: Barcoding captures all the information of the returned products, especially their order history and reason for return. The reason for returns can be analyzed to find the most regularly returned items (which also have a greater likelihood of being defective). Analyzing customer buying and returning patterns can provide insights to design future strategies to curb returns. Besides, visibility and traceability of returned items are essential to avoid losses and delays. This is again made possible by the serialization of each item.

Eliminating paper processes: Increff is an efficient multichannel, web-based WMS and order fulfillment system that offers a real-time (less than 15 seconds) order inventory sync feature. Serialization and barcode scanning eliminates paperwork within the warehouse and every step gets recorded in the system. Manual errors can be traced back to the warehouse worker and adequate corrections can be made to prevent such errors in the future. 

Automation is finding a tremendous application in the field of warehouse management. It has opened up new vistas for businesses, making them more proactive while handling their inventory and ensuring a high standard of service to customers. Despite all these outstanding features and futuristic benefits, automation-based solutions are highly cost-effective in terms of their upfront costs, training and development, integrations, and up-gradations.

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Technology Warehouse Management

5 Myths on Warehouse Inventory Management Busted

Warehouse automation is fast becoming one of the essentials of supply chain management. But there are some very common myths that have been making rounds in the industry and believe it or not, even the most seasoned professionals may fall for them. In this blog, we clear the air around some preconceived notions surrounding warehouse management systems. So let’s get started.

Myth 1: Automation is suitable only for large brands and retailers

Larger and well-established brands definitely require a robust automation infrastructure, as they simply cannot operate their mammoth business processes manually. But this doesn’t mean that the smaller brands can afford to do without automation. 

Strategic planning in today’s highly competitive business environment requires a highly data-driven approach right from the beginning. There’s very little margin for error, especially for brands just coming into the industry and up against formidable competitors, both new and old. 

Fast-changing business environment especially demands that brands receive a continuous stream of real-time inputs and leverage automation to make well-informed decisions. Automation also boosts the efficiency and accuracy of business processes like picking and packing, thus enabling the smaller brands to save on some precious resources.

Myth 2: Adopting advanced warehousing means we must completely change every process

A drastic change in technology can significantly hamper the ongoing warehouse processes. When migrating to an advanced WMS solution, many brands are in fact apprehensive of bringing their warehouse processes to a halt.

These fears are entirely unfounded. New age warehousing solutions are often on plug-and-play rather than the rip-and-replace model. This means there is no pressure on brands to suddenly upgrade to a new system and do away with the old processes. The migration with solutions like Increff WMS is smooth, gradual, and well-planned, causing absolutely no disruptions to the ongoing warehouse operations. 

Myth 3: Automation means robotics

The word ‘automation’ instantly conjures up images of a massive assembly line with robotic arms fixing parts into automobiles. But that’s a very narrow view of the idea of automation. In reality, a number of technologies — both physical and digital — come together to set up automation in a business process. 

Transformation in warehouse management is all about automating the movement of inventory within and out of the warehouse with minimal human assistance. It seeks to eliminate repetitive, labor-intensive, manual data entry, and analysis tasks, with automation-driven processes. Most often automation in warehouses simply refers to the use of software to replace manual tasks.

Automation begins with the serialization and barcoding of all items, which makes them traceable both within the warehouse and throughout the supply chain. These are scanned and tracked using Bluetooth scanners and handheld terminals (HHT). The use of digital solutions such as warehouse management systems, merchandising software, and returns management systems allows brands to manage their inventory, take assortment-related decisions, and handle returns with greater efficiency.

Myth 4: New WMS will require expensive, time-consuming training

Advanced technology may appear rather formidable and hard to handle. It may often lead to resistance amongst the staff due to fears of the unexpected. For business owners, it could mean added costs of elaborate training interventions. But a cursory look at some of the new-age software solutions is enough to bust this myth.

WMS solutions like Increff WMS offer an incredibly simple UX/UI and workers can get started on the system with just 5 minutes of training. This makes cross-functioning of your existing staff easy and precludes the need to hire any specialized workforce for operating the system. In times of labor shortage, this feature can especially come in handy and help brands save costs on skilled labor. Besides, the implementation and deployment of the solutions are very quick and effective.

Quite contrary to the prevailing notions, therefore, new WMS solutions facilitate and empower your workforce, rather than pose a threat to it. 

Myth 5: Warehouse operations must shut down during audits

Audits are a frequent feature of warehouse management and can be quite time-consuming. This doesn’t mean the normal warehouse operations must be suspended during audits. With new-age warehouse management solutions, audits can be performed with utmost accuracy, while operations in the warehouse go on as usual.

Contrary to the above myths, new-age warehouse management systems powered by automation, make warehousing highly efficient, easy, and cost-effective. As business competition intensifies, automation is fast becoming an essential prerequisite for brands, no matter how big or small. 

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Technology Warehouse Management

Top 5 Challenges Within the Warehouse and How to Solve Them

As retail and e-commerce turn into highly competitive spaces warehouse management is also becoming more and more challenging. Customers these days expect lightning-fast deliveries, convenient shopping experiences, and easy returns. This requires greater flexibility, proactive handling, and a technology-driven warehouse management system backing the sales channels. 

With new trends such as omnichannel taking full effect, the challenges are further complicated as warehousing now requires a highly customer-centric approach. Competition is getting increasingly intense as smaller brands operating neck to neck with established giants, seek to carve out their place in the market. This often results in dropping margins and demands greater efficiency to stay afloat. 

As such, accurate inventory management, optimum picking and packing, transparency, and traceability of items are some of the must-have features of warehouse management systems, to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 

Let’s take a look at the top 5 challenges in a warehouse today, and ways to tackle them effectively.

  1. Inventory tracking during BAU (Business as usual) and during peak sales period

As businesses expand, tracking the inventory manually can be extremely tardy and hectic. Inventory digitization and serialization ensure seamless inventory tracking within and outside the warehouse. This is all the more crucial during peak sales periods like the end-of-season sales or festive sales since only an automated system can ensure continuous, real-time tracking when the stakes are the highest. Barcoding and serialization help cut down human errors and inaccuracies. This enables warehouse personnel to log the inventory correctly and locate it easily as and when they wish to move it. 

2. Efficient Picking and Packing to Meet SLA Requirements

Undue delays and inexplicable inaccuracies can turn out to be the most difficult challenges in meeting SLAs. This, in the long run, can result in an increase in the rate of returns, higher customer churn, and loss of revenue. These issues can be tackled with efficient picking and packing so that only the right products in the right quantities are shipped. 

Increff WMS express picking enables auto picklist-based SLA and channel priority to ensure express delivery orders are dispatched on priority. Pick efficiency is enhanced using the wave-wise picking technique. This way the picker doesn’t have to go to the same aisle multiple times to pick. With its image-assisted picking and packing, Increff ensures 100% order picking accuracy.

3. Minimizing Wastage and Obsolescence

Poor stock management is one of the leading reasons for wastage and obsolescence. Perishable products can especially be sensitive to expiry dates and highly prone to wastage. With automated solutions like Increff WMS, retailers can put in place an alert notification for batches approaching their expiry or sell-by date. Commonly known as the FEFO (First Expiry First Out) technique, this significantly avoids wastage and obsolescence in warehouses, especially for brands dealing in Pharma, Cosmetics, and Consumables. 

4. Maximizing Resource Efficiency and Productivity

As more and more players emerge and compete in the market, there’s growing pressure on each brand —both big and small—to improve their bottom line, maintain healthy margins, and boost productivity. By offering a simple UI, Increff enables brands to maximize the efficiency of their warehouse staff with the training of no more than 10-15 minutes. This is especially crucial during peak sales when brands have to hire additional personnel or conduct cross-functional training from within their staff. 

The system generates auto-alerts at every step and will not allow the warehousing staff to move ahead without resolving the previous error. This ensures every step is captured in the system and the errors get corrected at each step and are not amplified. By capturing the picker ID in the system, there is greater traceability and accountability for errors. 

Combining and executing multiple steps in the process also ensures high performance. Increff enables picking and auditing simultaneously, thus cutting down on any potential downtime. 

5. Faster re-commerce and returns management

In the year 2020, Americans returned goods worth a whopping $428 billion which made for a return rate of 10.6%. Quite clearly, managing returns is a serious challenge that brands must overcome proactively to ensure optimum profitability. Time-consuming returns may lead to loss of sales as products may not be visible on the sales channels immediately. 

To reduce the chances of loss of sales, WMS solutions enable brands to conduct a quality check of the returned goods, and sort them as resaleable, refurbishable, and rejected. In case the goods are rejected, capturing the exact reason for rejection can help in the correction of future errors, conduct vendor analysis, and staff training. With the right labels, tags, and barcoding, there are zero chances of mixing the returned goods, keeping the whole returns process streamlined. 

Having the right warehouse management system in place can help deal with all the above challenges with greater ease and agility. In fact, a cutting-edge WMS ensures brands stay ahead of the competition and ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 

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Business Warehouse Management

How Technology is Propelling the Growth of D2C Brands

Brands that have a well-established presence among their customers can benefit significantly by opting for the D2C route of marketing. In the US alone, D2C sales are expected to reach $175 billion by 2023.  Even new and emerging brands find tremendous merit in D2C marketing as they wish to gain better control over their brand, eliminate the intermediary and acquire complete ownership of the customer’s journey. Technology has helped build a strong foundation for D2C brands to promote business growth:

– Emergence of easy SaaS-based website development platforms like Shopify, Magento, etc. have made it easy for merchandisers to open their own stores. 

– Quick preintegration with marketplaces have made it easy to expand the network and reach. 

– Smooth integration of SaaS-based, cloud-hosted Tech solutions help analyze demand and inventory levels.

Benefits of D2C

  • D2C enables brands to gain complete ownership of the value chain as well as the customer experience. They can create on-brand experiences throughout the customer journey and build rapport without having to rely on intermediaries. 
  • In a business world dominated by data, D2C gives brands a unique opportunity to capture comprehensive information about their target customer groups, thus enabling them to craft the right products, services, and communications.
  • Logistically, D2C makes a lot more sense as brands can directly reach out to their customers if they have a healthy online presence. It may even result in lower costs and better margins for the brands.
  • D2C is in line with the emerging trend of omnichannel commerce which allows customers to interact with the brands through multiple touch-points. Intermediary platforms like Amazon can hardly be expected to provide omnichannel services for each individual brand.

Challenges in going D2C and how technology is helping brands solve them

While D2C enables brands to retain and consolidate their identity and reach out to their customers directly, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. 

One such challenge is the direct confrontation with retailers who invariably have well-established marketing and communication channels. Brands pitting themselves against these intermediaries could get bogged down, as they will have to invest heavily in the marketing efforts that would otherwise have been borne by the intermediary.

But many of the challenges that D2C brings forth can be tackled with the help of technology-driven solutions. 

  • Maximizing the reach: Exposing 100% inventory and maximizing reach through a brand’s own website and multiple marketplaces through a single tech platform.
  • Real-time inventory-order sync: To ensure 100% of orders are captured and there are no cancellations due to overbooking.
  • Cloud warehousing: Possibility to outsource warehousing, without CapEx, to Industry experts and 3PL providers. This allows brands to build a strong warehousing network to capture customers at every point of sales.
  • Efficient and error-free fulfillment: Efficient warehousing is ensured with the use of technology and automation. Automation of processes helps minimize human decision-making errors and delays in order fulfillment. Digitization of inventory ensures 100% traceability and prevents wastage or loss of products in the warehouse. 
  • Simple UX/UI and easy accessibility: Ready dashboards to view brand, SKU & style performance at individual stakeholder levels from warehousing manager to Brand CEO. 
  • Reports of actionable insights: Easy to generate reports for analysis. Understanding channel performance and brand performance so that quick revisions can be done. 
  • Returns management: Easy returns analysis to capture the actual pain points and address them to minimize future returns. Rapid recommence to ensure maximum sales.

The emergence of D2C aggregators (Thrasio-style business model) in pushing the growth of D2C brands

A new trend on the D2C horizon is the emergence of Thrasio-style D2C aggregators that acquire new promising brands and help them expand. These brands often lack the support and technical know-how which is provided by the acquiring company. The companies also offer a common base of infrastructure that helps them support multiple brands. Besides, smaller brands also get ready access to technology upgrades which is essential to survive in the highly competitive marketplace of today. 

Companies like Perch, Moonshot, GlobalBees, Mensa Brands, G.O.A.T Brand Labs, etc. are following the footsteps of Thrasio to power the growth of D2C brands. Thrasio-style aggregators identify brands that are doing well on marketplaces and acquire them to provide expertise in marketing, brand development, and supply chain management, thus pushing for exponential growth. Having a coherent customer base, quality niche products, and a Thrasio-style backer now seems to be the perfect recipe for creating a successful D2C brand.

D2C is one of the fastest emerging trends on the e-commerce horizon. All that brands need is the ability to scale faster with the help of best-in-class technology as well as some Thrasio-style financial backing. While the challenges are many, D2C as a trend is coping well to create a level playing field for smaller and newer brands.

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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.

Categories
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.