Digital Warehousing: Manage your space

Digital Warehouse Capacity in the era of e-commerce is all set to witness testonic changes

To keep up with increasing demand from e-commerce channels and meet the expectations of consumers, organisations will need to invest in their warehouses and distribution centres and increase the development and implementation of advanced supply chain and logistics processes.

New technologies such as augmented reality, drones, advanced robotics, and smart glasses for hands free pick, pack, ship, are the key to reducing costs and ensuring the competitiveness of the company and satisfaction of the customer.

Ever-changing business models and markets, new sales strategies, growing unpredictable customer demand, and shorter product life cycles demand more flexible solutions to increase customer satisfaction; the challenge is to put customers at the center of changes to the value chain.

What does that mean for the warehouse?

Automation and robotics will definitely increase, as will autonomous technology, which will lead to more high-velocity operations with integrated warehouse management software and analysis of real-time data. Further, warehouse operators who would not be ready or able to invest in new technologies, higher skilled staff, and transformation projects may simply disappear in the near future.

The above means inventories will be closer to customers, collaborative load and route planning will be better scheduled, which will optimise transportation and warehousing networks, resulting in reduced operating costs. All this will be enabled by digitisation and real-time connectivity.

As a result, warehouse / distribution centres’ strategies will change, and the market will contain a higher percentage of standardised logistics buildings: fulfillment centres (large storage spaces that include flexible automation solutions in order to consolidate inbound flows) and last-mile delivery warehouses (smaller spaces closer to end customers to support urban deliveries).

Still, the main, expected warehouse change will be the development of temporary warehousing solutions. With customer demand more difficult to predict and because of shorter product lifecycle, companies’ supply chains will become more flexible to anticipate and follow market fluctuations.

Furthermore, because manufacturers and retailers want inventories to be closer to their customers, connected and collaborative warehousing networks will be created to more efficiently use and share existing warehousing capacities.

That means we have a unique opportunity to develop more multi-user warehouses with short-term lease agreements — signed with their customers but connected to a collaborative, international network of warehouses.

E-commerce businesses and warehouses: complimenting each other, at the right time, at the right place

Capacity matching platforms have been in use in the transport sector for a while now but their potential usage in warehousing is still to be unleashed. Digital warehouse capacity matching platforms allow buyers (retailers, manufacturers, and merchants) and suppliers (warehouses) to find each other, automate transactions between them and ease the flow of goods along the supply chain.

There are 5 things smart capacity matching platforms are capable of doing –

  1. They match unused warehouse space with e-commerce businesses that need to get online orders to their customers quickly
  2. They create a large on-demand fulfillment network for retailers and warehouses allowing
    both to use storage capacities and fulfillment services anywhere, anytime
  3. They allow businesses to expand their reach by hiring spaces in more local regions
  4. They help warehouses improve their customer base by giving them complete visibility into the peak seasons as well as under-utilized capacities
  5. The flexibility provided by the platform means that both the e-commerce businesses and warehouse operators can be more efficient and operate more profitably

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) – enabling digital warehouse capacity matching

Using innovative digital technology, a WMS provides the connection to e-commerce firms and warehouses, enabling transparent and complete visibility on their inventories, order fulfillment and final delivery.

Using advanced fulfillment logic, the solution is able to successfully fulfill e-commerce requirements, help with retail distribution and manage the overflow of inventory. Some of the functionalities that make a WMS a preferred solution with several leading warehouse operators globally include:

  • Wave management
  • Constraint-based selection
  • Real-time replenishment
  • Auditor approved cycle counting

Digital warehouse capacity matching platform improves the order-to-delivery experience

The concept of on-demand fulfillment means that you should have your products in a strategically-located and optimised warehouse in the country so as to be able to quickly ship out once a customer places an order online. Warehouse capacity matching platforms aids this by matching buyers to the right sized warehouse and by allowing suppliers to keep their shelves and space occupied efficiently.

  • They provide complete transparency on orders and inventory: The dashboard provided by the capacity matching platform becomes the single source of truth with 100% visibility and control over operations. Since inventory levels across warehouses can be tracked using a single platform, e-commerce businesses can manage inventory levels, order data, and control billing using a single system.
  • They boost sales: New customers can be served by expanding the geographical reach of the e-commerce business and the demand for faster delivery can be met without hiccups. With a smart, scalable fulfillment network in place, delivery times and costs can be reduced significantly.
  • They work around unexpected surges and slumps: Additional warehousing capacity can be instantly increased during the peak season to accommodate unexpected excess inventory. Likewise, during non-peak seasons, unused warehouse capacities can be utilised to maintain profitability levels.

Irrespective of the size of the business, whether a startup or a Fortune 500, the demand for warehouse storage optimised to meet the on-demand needs of e-commerce firms is growing. Warehouses / Distribution Centres located closer to the customer to both optimise the time-to-fulfillment and cut down on transportation costs. With intelligent technology and a best-of-class WMS solution, fulfilling orders is about more than just meeting commitments made to the customer. It becomes a critical and indispensable part of the overall e-commerce business model.

Source: Forbes – Betsy Atkins – Logistics in the E-commerce era
Pierre Liguori- Token International : Analysis; E-commerce era users in smart flexible warehouse

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