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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.

Categories
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 the chances of sales and reducing stockpiles.   

Live inventory-order sync

Challenge: Order cancellations due to excess booking by customers

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

Faster order fulfillment

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

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

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 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. 

Read: How to choose a Warehouse Management System

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 levels. 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. 

Categories
Smart Merchandising Warehouse Management

The Next Big Thing in Retail: Automation in Inventory Management

As more and more people turn to omnichannel shopping, something as simple as maintaining inventory has become more difficult for companies. The silver lining is that along with consumer purchasing preferences, the technology required to conduct an efficient business has also evolved leading to digitization and automation of processes including inventory management.

Manual vs Automated Inventory Management 

A labor-intensive process, manual inventory management heavily relied on people’s ability to consistently perform at their best. This was also a time-consuming job that rarely offered a comprehensive picture of a company’s inventory in real-time. It involved counting, aggregating, and calculating data at every step. Even the smallest errors could have a grave impact in the long run. 

An automated system makes these processes simpler, reducing the amount of human intervention and involvement by providing each SKU with a serial number or a barcode. It presents various insights and access to warehouse/operation-wide data easily. This means all information becomes readily available, movement of the product can be followed, and there are fewer discrepancies. 

Considering an increasing number of companies are opting for an omnichannel approach, the lack of a cohesive selling and stocking strategy can translate to significant losses. If you are considering moving your business operations to an automated inventory management system, here are some benefits – 

  • Stock visibility –There is 100% inventory exposure, across all sale channels at the same time. Real-time inventory-order sync increases the chances of sales and minimizes order cancellation due to overbooking.
  • No “lost” stock – Once a product is assigned a serial number and scanned into the automated inventory management system, the chances of getting misplaced or lost are close to zero. 
  • Minimizing manual errors – An automated system reduces the number of human errors.  
  • Analytics & Insights – Stocks can be redirected where there is higher demand, and prices can be changed depending on the trends which are showcased by the automated inventory management system. 
  • Scalability – The biggest benefit of implementing an automated inventory management system is the ability to grow and expand faster and quicker. 

Automation in Inventory Management at Stores 

An automated system such as Increff Merchandising Solution can efficiently manage the following functions increasing sales, productivity, and overall performance of a store. 

  • Assortment planning and buying – Using algorithm-driven data, an automated inventory management system can analyze the demand and help in product planning for the store. This tool takes into consideration real-time data regarding sales, revenue, discounts, size cuts, stock-outs, etc. These factors can determine buying and assortment planning tool as the tool analyses 17 levels of product attributes, providing accurate insights for informed decision making. 
  • Restocking – As this merchandising solution keeps track of stock, there are automated alerts to ensure that the store has enough stock to match demand at all times. It becomes possible to automate the re-ordering process with proper checks and balances to keep your stores running smoothly. 
  • Replacements and replenishment – Once any of the bestseller stock gets sold out, it is prudent to have them restocked as soon as possible as it can affect the cash flow. Increff Merchandising solution identifies bestsellers as well as low-selling stocks. Having this information means that a store can always have its bestsellers in stock while moving its low-selling items through various promotions to avoid deadstock at the end of the season.  
  • Inter-store transfers – A unique feature of Increff Merchandising solution is showcasing trends in purchase which can help retailers to move stock between stores if there is a demand mismatch. This helps in utilizing the stock while avoiding losses. 

Automation in Inventory Management at Warehouses 

Automation in inventory management at the warehouses can be beneficial in preventing human errors. An automated system can also increase efficiency and reduce losses due to such errors and oversight. 

Increff’s WMS solution automates processes in the warehouse by using inventory serialization which can properly track SKUs and facilitate better space utilization. This enables faster picking and packing at warehouses, reducing the turnaround time for completing orders. Each time a product barcode is scanned, all of its details including a picture are displayed to ensure zero errors while packing a product. This WMS has a simple and friendly user interface to make sure that all warehouse workers can be quickly and easily trained to use this software. 

The overall benefits of using automation in inventory management increase as your business grows and expands. The transformative powers of automation are many and the need to integrate automation into your business is more evident than ever as the world itself goes through a transformative time.  Based on your business needs and goals, choose an automation solution that works the best for you.

Categories
Smart Merchandising Technology Warehouse Management

If you are going D2C with Shopify, Scale Faster with Increff

Retail started from local stores and expanded nationwide, cross borders, with e-commerce. E-commerce provided a uniform platform business for brands to compete on. The traditional legacy brands, having huge landmark stores and a dedicated customer base, had to wrestle with hip startups that were born in the digital era. As fast-paced technology started transforming the future of retail, it completely changed the way we shop. 

What was memorable about brand stores was the unique environment they created by capturing its essence within the four walls and adding a peculiarity in interactions. This uniqueness and brand memorability get lost in multi-brand marketplaces. Marketplaces are standard platforms having their own purpose, that masks a brand’s individuality. E.g. you become a Macy’s customer or an Amazon shopper but the brand you shop for becomes secondary. Hence, D2C seems an attractive channel to directly communicate with customers and own the relationship. 

Brands selling directly to customers own their most important asset; their customer’s lifetime value. 

D2C is an emerging strategy to disrupt the market. It allows brands to grow at their own pace by eliminating the middleman and earning higher margins. It helps brands:

  1. Directly connect with customers: Having direct access to customer data gives brands the ability to customize every touchpoint. Connect with shoppers whenever they want, through emailers, push notifications, etc. 
  2. Innovate: Data enables brands to understand customers better and improvise basis demand. Manufacturers can optimize existing products or create new offerings by capturing the trend early. 
  3. Build stronger brand loyalty: Using upselling and cross-selling options, retailers can create more opportunities for sale and build brand loyalty. 
  4. Increase flexibility and agility: Having full control over product supply and demand allows brands to become more agile. Gain the ability to read and react to change fast. 

Going D2C is not easy. It’s important to have a D2C-specific strategy, which addresses:

  1. Initial set-up – 
    • Building your website – Using the right e-commerce solution, that is affordable, scalable, secure and low maintenance is important. Specialized platforms like Magento and Shopify, serve as all-in-one website builders that are easy to work with. They provide multiple payment options and allow omnichannel delivery. Our web-based WMS solution, Increff WMS, has preintegration with both these platforms and we can be your technology partner. Assure is a multi-channel order fulfillment platform built specifically for fashion and lifestyle brands to improve topline and reduce operational costs. It manages inventory by tracking every piece using Unique Piece Barcode, ensuring 100% order accuracy and improving operational efficiency. Through fast and easy channel integrations Increff WMS can manage inventory across multiple sales channels, online and offline, and display 100% inventory across all channels simultaneously ensuring higher sales and better visibility.
    • Deciding CapEx vs OpEx model of operations – Understanding whether you can support direct orders to your warehouse or do you need a warehousing partner is the next step. Increff Assure can help you manage inventory in your warehouse. Our Warehousing as a Service (WaaS) helps retailers switch from the CapEx to Opex model of operation as we manage anywhere, anytime warehousing through our trusted 3PL partners. Having the right tech foundation at each warehouse helps brands scale efficiently as their business grows with the increasing demand.
  1. Supply chain challenges – 

Inventory management tech-solution like Increff WMS helps optimize inventory across all sales channels to prevent understocking or overstocking at any point in time. Our Regional Utilization model helps distribute inventory intelligently across a network of managed warehouses, based on true regional demand. It helps minimize air shipments, promote surface shipments and reduce logistics costs significantly to facilitate faster deliveries. Our pre-integrations on Shopify with reliable 3PL partners, Shiprocket, Clickpost, Shipway, etc. ensure complete order traceability and timely delivery. Increff WMS has inbuilt returns management solutions that very few WMS solutions provide. It helps in rapid returns processing and makes good inventory immediately available for resale to prevent loss in sales opportunities. 

  1. Usage of data and insights – 

Increff WMS’s 50+ insightful, actionable reports help brands make calculated decisions on inventory and resource management. They help in inventory reconciliation, identifying channels of higher sales for better order management, tracking manpower productivity, and improving efficiency by highlighting, and correcting, loopholes in operations. 

Channel diversification is an opportunity to build a new relationship with customers. It is about giving a reason to customers to buy directly while ensuring the sales on partner channels do not get impacted. Offering unique services, loyalty programs, or subscription services plays a major role. Omnichannel brands can also decide on differentiating inventory across different channels e.g. D2C channel can be used for launching new products, selling premium versions of existing products, or a limited product line. Gaining better control over consumer data empowers brands to cater to changing needs by providing personalized, authentic service, and making it memorable. 

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Warehouse Management

INCREFF recognized as a Notable Vendor in Gartner’s report “Asia/Pacific Context: Magic Quadrant for WMS”

Increff is recognized as a Notable Vendor in Gartner’s report “Asia/Pacific Context: Magic Quadrant for Warehouse Management Systems” published in Aug 2020. Gartner recognizes us based on our completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner subscribers can access the report here.

As traditional manufacturers shifted to eCommerce, their warehouses that shipped bulk orders to retailers and wholesalers, gradually turned to distribution centers for picking and packing individual orders for end users. The shift from bulk order processing to single order shipping, demands new Warehouse Management tools. It cannot depend on traditional systems with new technology and expect efficient workflow.

New integrated systems, specifically designed for a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, need to be implemented for better handling of inventory, distribution, and fulfillment operations. One solution cannot fit all, hence Increff WMS has built unique expertise in its software platform to address the needs of fashion brands & retailers.

Unique piece barcode serialization for smart order prioritization, intelligent pick paths, and accurate return order reconciliation

Increff WMS is an end-to-end cloud-based platform that comes along with pre-built marketplace integrations, inventory management, order management, and warehouse management capabilities. It can be used for both B2B and B2C operations from a common inventory pool.

Its unique piece barcode serialization feature reduces human errors through an intuitive user interface that encourages order prioritization based on SLA and channel type. Serialized scan-based checks and product photograph display features at multiple stages, ensuring right-first-time operations. The software interface is simple and easy to master without expert supervision or monitoring. Consolidated intelligent pick paths and easy reference maps optimize workflow to reduce picker travel time. 

Quick real-time inventory and order sync not only assures efficient order fulfillment but also provides faster turnaround times to your customers. This solution is built to handle 100,000 items per day per warehouse and supports multi-location warehousing. It is currently serving top brands & retailers achieving 99.9% SLA through accurate order fulfillment and improved inventory management.

A specialized WMS not only makes inventory management faster, easier, and efficient but also adds consistency and quality control, enabling brands to respond effectively to dynamic customer demand. With same-day delivery now becoming a norm, human errors must be avoided. Brands need to move goods through their warehouse at maximum speed, improve fulfillment at every stage, and in turn boost sales and profits by making customers happy. Increff WMS has accelerated the digital journeys of retailers increasing their sales velocity by 2-3x through better regional utilization, distributed warehousing, and real-time inventory updates. 

For more details, check out the link www.increff.com/assure

Asia/Pacific Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Warehouse Management Systems’,  Simon Tunstall, Dwight Klappich, 5 August 2020

Gartner Disclaimer

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Categories
Warehouse Management

Cloud-warehousing – Your low cost solution for easy fulfillment

The advances of technology are based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life” – Bill Gates

COVID-19 is probably the first global pandemic that has accelerated digital adoption in ways, and at speeds, no one could have predicted. As retailers and consumers switch services to E-commerce, timely order fulfillment has become a challenge. With increased viewability and availability of options online, the small screen offers more space for catalogs compared to a physical store. This is the power of SMALL over LARGE.

A smooth 24/7 shopping experience demands round-the-clock warehousing.
A continuous influx of orders requires efficient processing, greater fulfillment space, and skillful operations. With same-day or next-day deliveries & free shipping demands, warehousing requires advanced technologies to accelerate automation, reduce cost, maximize exposure, and accelerate sales.

Real-time data feed for better customer experience, quick fulfillment, and customer retention.
Increff’s Cloud Warehousing is a smart inventory placement service through which we help clients distribute stock to multiple 3PL warehouses, across the country, for better delivery to the end consumer. We lower overall client costs by providing the flexibility to switch from CAPEX to OPEX model of operations and assuring perfect, skillful management of warehousing with no additional operational bandwidth at their end. Our cloud warehousing service can be made operational within 2 days with complete adaptability on the quantity that needs to be stored at each location based on consumer demands.

Increff WMS, our web-based fulfillment platform, which is at the heart of our Cloud warehousing Service, provides a single view of the inventory across all sales channels simultaneously. It helps fulfill both B2B and B2C orders from a common pool of inventory, thus improving the overall Rate of Sales, that too from the nearest location. We have helped clients lower manpower costs by 20-25% and achieve 99.9% SLA in order fulfillment through our combination of Technology and Warehousing as a Service.

One of the largest footwear giants, increased the rate of sales by 300% using Increff WMS and Cloud Warehousing.

What’s next!
Unpredictable purchasing season is another concern where many warehouses find it difficult to keep up with seasonal changes and demands from consumers, often leading to either understocking or overstocking. As seasonal goods or particular fashion trends lose relevance in one region, cross-border analysis can help brands quickly shift that merchandise to regions where goods are more likely to sell. This is the future of retail and Increff is on the path of a revolutionary change, helping brands plan a more sustainable and better-designed fashion ecosystem.

Categories
Warehouse Management

9 reasons why you need a New Age Warehouse Management Systems

Efficient warehousing is a crucial activity in the supply chain. It has become a source of competitive advantage for brands to outperform their competition in costs, lead time, and customer service. With so many WMS solutions available in the market, Gartner’s report on Critical Capabilities for Warehouse Management Systems is a helpful guide for businesses to determine their best-suited tech solution.

In the age of A-commerce (Automated Commerce), where all warehousing processes leverage automation and new technologies from start to finish, businesses need to switch to web-based WMS solutions that lower ownership costs are easy to use, and are quick to deploy. Supply chain digital transformation builds greater agility and resilience in business structure and strengthens growth strategy for now and the future.

Increff WMS, recognized in this report, has nine notable capabilities (five core capabilities and four are additional capabilities), that make it an important new age WMS solution.

Increff WMS’s nine notable capabilities are:

  • Inspection
  • Cycle counting
  • Inventory management
  • Picking
  • Packing
  • Responsive UI
  • Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain
  • Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience
  • Multi-site Deployment

While building efficiencies independently within each core capability is extremely essential, Increff WMS ties all activities together building a secure, flawless flow through the entire process.

  1. Inspection

This stage involves inward processing where a Unique Piece Barcode (UPB) is assigned to each product. The barcode captures all key details like MRP, style, color, size, SKU image, etc. of the product along with a complete audit trail of operations with timestamps. It allows scan-based GRN, showing the product image and description for quality check (QC).

Increff WMS’s stringent in-built QC matrix includes a comprehensive list of failure reasons covering all business requirements. If a product is found defective or unsellable, the reason is selected from the drop-down list and its UPB is marked as QC failed. Digitally bifurcated unsellable inventory, with in-depth QC failure reasons, helps in taking quick necessary actions. This product-defect mapping is linked to the seller and can help in streamlining future buying decisions.

  1. Cycle counting

ASSURE allows cycle counting to be done without blocking any inventory or affecting the exposure of the inventory, hence regular operations can be run simultaneously. It identifies discrepancies in the physical scan and system count as we go, making sure that it is addressed immediately without having to wait for a periodic cycle count activity. In case a certain item is marked as ‘Not Found’ during regular picking operations, the updated inventory is synced on all channels including the marketplaces within 30 seconds. These real-time inventory adjustments and live updates can be done without hindering day-to-day operations.

  1. Inventory Management

Location tracking and assigning perfect pick paths for efficient picking is another notable feature of Increff WMS that is achieved through UPB scanning. Separate pick paths can be assigned for smaller and larger products. Picklists are generated using the FIFO inventory method, considering the oldest SKU first to reduce the aging inventory. It also has the ability to prioritize or release picklists according to SLA or channel priority, e.g. Express & Prime orders which have to be fulfilled within 2 hours of order receipt, or multiple marketplaces that have separate cut-off and pick-up timings, are addressed accordingly. A single view of inventory across all channels and 99.9% bin level accuracy exceeds RFID tagging in bringing accuracy and building proficiency. Proper inventory management in the warehouse allows capturing the true cost of the inventory with accurate aging.

  1. Picking

Is a fully automated scan-based process, free of pen and paper, allowing first-time right pick. Using the UPB tracking method, Increff WMS creates an optimized linear forward-going pick path that facilitates systematic sequential picking. It ensures that a picker exits an aisle only when all the items from the picklist have been picked. Through real-time checks, the system has the ability to throw an error and an audio alert to warn the picker if a wrong product is scanned. The picker cannot move forward until the right product is picked up or an item is marked as ‘Not Found’. In case a piece is not found in the assigned bin, a recommendation system is set to direct the picker to the next best location. An order is closed only when all the pieces have been scanned and picked.

  1. Packing

Increff WMS has a single screen for each marketplace to view the packing status in real-time. Automated prompts for packing are generated if a product packing requires any customizations, e.g. use of corrugated material for plastic ban states, or gift label print if an order is for gifting. The system provides options to print the shipping labels in different custom formats. If an order is canceled before/during packing then it is sent back to the inventory and made live for sale again, immediately.

6. Responsive UI

UI is designed for the end operator who is used to the touchscreen on mobile devices. It is fully automated and scan-based, to avoid the use of a mouse or keyboard and eliminate chances of lapses due to human decision-making, and can run on any device; tablet, laptop, smartphone, HHTs. Normally, the operation of GRN/ return processing has a maximum number of steps, but with Increff WMS it can be covered in just 4 scans. On scanning, the cursor automatically moves to the next field freezing the previous one and ensuring that the operator does not skip a step. If the operator scans any barcode other than the one expected, then a pop-up error stops him from moving further.

7. Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain

Considering the fluidity of the workforce where attrition is typically 15-20% in a warehouse, Increff WMS’s user-friendly interface design guarantees quick learning and easy implementation without supervision. In scenarios like the present where a large number of blue-collar workers moved out of big cities to villages, there is an acute shortage of skilled labour in big warehouses. These warehouses have to operate with a lot of temporary unskilled, less-educated workers to deliver efficient and proficient output. In such situations having easy-to-learn systems saves time that goes into training and in turn increases the productivity of the labour force.

8. Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience

Reduced training time relates to a lot of dollars saved. Typical manpower required to operate the Increff WMS interface needs the bare minimum educational qualification to read simple text. The training time is less than 5 mins so you can go live faster and reduce manpower costs by 20-25%.   

If there are multiple options available on the screen it can confuse the operator and reduce productivity. A google-like extremely simple UI, with limited options, allows a majority of the decision-making to be done by the system itself. Also, each screen has a video tutorial of 3- 5 mins embedded on the UI to train the new operator. With strict rules set by all marketplaces and different kinds of processes for each operation, it is best if the decision-making is left up to the WMS system. This helps in the easy scale-up of operations and maximum productivity from day one.

9. Multi-site Deployment

Increff WMS is capable of handling multi-warehousing. The creation of an environment for a seller takes a maximum of 48 hrs. Our Cloud warehousing service is based on CAPEX free model that gives the flexibility of scaling up and scaling down as per business needs. It enables sellers to easily build up inventory in different regions and optimize low-cost order fulfillment from a local warehouse, reducing logistics costs significantly. Multi-location cloud warehousing improves supply chain resilience and reduces the risk of failures.

For one of the top ethnic wear brands in India, within 15 days of launch, Increff WMS GRNed approx 5 lakh pieces across 2 warehouses during peak sales. It dispatched ~170K pieces within 3 days, achieving 99.9%+ SLA and only 48 orders (0.03%) were canceled due to the item not found or excess orders. Powered by Increff WMS, the brand has now fAssure and Amazon Prime quality badge for 100% fulfillment accuracy.

Every business needs to evolve and strengthen over time to cope with the challenges of the changing market. This is the time for digital transformation and quick results. The real challenge is to choose the right system that can help you scale business operations immediately. The New-age WMS needs to be flexible and adaptable to the changing business landscape. Now is not the time to wait, but to act. Get ASSUREd!