How your WMS gives you a competitive, omnichannel advantage: Tips
Sustainable competitive advantage is the key to business success. It is the force that enables a business to have greater focus, more sales, better profit margins, and higher customer and staff retention than competitors.
At its most basic level, there are three key types of sustainable competitive advantage:
- Cost advantage: the business competes on price.
- Value advantage: the business provides a differentiated offering that is perceived to be of superior value.
- Focus advantage: the business focuses on a specific market niche, with a tailored offering designed specifically for that segment of the market.
The expectation of instant consumer gratification has businesses scrambling to shore up their supply chain to ensure cost-effective on-time delivery, which is where omnichannel logistics come into play. Omnichannel logistics enables businesses to tailor how their products are purchased and delivered to meet the needs of the modern customer.
Consumers expect to find the products they want both in-store and online, to use technology to make purchases with the swipe of a finger and to have their purchase delivered to their doorstep the very next day
What do you mean by Omnichannel Inventory and Warehouse Management?
Omni = of all things
An omnichannel logistics strategy seeks to synchronize inventory, logistics and distribution functions across all sales channels to meet consumer demand. Retailers, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers alike are developing complex omnichannel logistics solutions to ensure that their supply chain creates optimal levels of the all-important cost-to-serve metric.
How does your warehouse management system help you improve omnichannel customer service?
Your warehouse management system (WMS) assists you in streamlining your strategy and processes, helping you improve the overall productivity and profitability in your warehouse.
Being able to deliver on your customer demands timeously and accurately gives your customers the seamless, convenient and gratifying experience they were looking for.
Your WMS is especially useful when it comes to optimising the following two key areas in your warehouse:
1. WAREHOUSE LAYOUT AND FLOW FOR OMNICHANNEL EFFICIENCY
Optimising your warehouse layout and flow will not only improve your usage of space, but also boost your warehouse productivity, reduce stock losses and save you money. This helps you achieve your business goals, and delight your customers with orders that arrive accurately, in good condition, and on time.
The key is to design the flow of inventory, material handling equipment and people to suit the products and volumes that you’ll be moving through your warehouse. The more appropriate the warehouse layout is to cater for these, the smoother your process will be - turning your business into a well-oiled machine.
Why you should optimise your warehouse layout (and how to do this), for tips to help you streamline your operations for maximum efficiency.
2. STREAMLINED, TASK-FOCUSED LABOUR OPTIMISATION
Labour makes up between 50 to 75% of your total warehouse costs, making labour optimisation a crucial part of running a lean and efficient warehouse. Your WMS is able to provide accurate, real-time data - allowing you to track productivity in your warehouse on an ongoing basis. This allows you to identify any bleeding points or opportunities much faster than you would manually.
The key objectives of a warehouse management system include:
Core Warehouse Management - transparent inventory storage, minimised shrinkage
Slotting Optimisation - efficient accessibility
Labour Management - safer and faster
Billing Management - move your money around quicker
Warehouse Mobility - streamlined production processes
Supply Chain Intelligence - getting maximum data and interpreting it accurately
All of this can see businesses providing a better product, quicker, for less. Happy customers are repeat customers!
The Foschini Group Reduces Logistics Cost by 10% :
"As a result of the Manhattan system deployment and the process improvements we have made, we've been able to reduce logistics lead times from 17 to 4.9 days in the distribution centres; a DC stock holding reduction of 64 percent; an overall delivery conformance improvement of 11.5 percent and we've measured DC pick accuracy consistently at 99.9 percent. This and the other logistics enhancement initiatives we've undertaken have delivered a 10.1 percent reduction in the overall cost of logistics as a percentage of turnover, and this at a time when cost inflation has been running at around 6 percent.”
- Jan Tukker, Group Logistics Director, TFG
The 6 Benefits of Consolidating Your Logistics Systems On Multi-Site Warehouses
1. A Single Database
Perhaps the best reason to have a single instance of your database is the ability to maintain one production environment. This reduces IT needs and costs. Each of the benefits below derives from having a single environment to support.
2. Consolidated code base for simpler multi-site updates
Over time you’ll probably need to modify the base code in your WMS to improve efficiency or meet unique customer requirements. Having one code base to maintain, update, and modify negates the need to apply the same set of changes and hot fixes to multiple servers at different sites. Keeping current with the latest upgrades is vital to a successful continuous improvement plan as well, so making this process as simple as possible is highly beneficial.
3. Development and test/QA environments
If you use development and QA servers to test modifications before they’re put into production, having only one version of each of those environments again simplifies the task of making sure everything is always up to date. Optimisation techniques which drive customer service can be thoroughly vetted before implementing.
4. Database server maintenance for uninterrupted processes
Indexing, use of temporary space, backups, and compression are all administrative tasks that need to be performed to keep database servers healthy and optimised. They are also time-consuming, meaning “one and done” is hugely beneficial. When it comes to multi-site & omnichannel businesses, remember that a crash at one site can follow on and knock a business out for hours, so database health across all sectors is of utmost importance.
5. User access for improved security and data storage
With dozens or hundreds of employees as well as temporary workers interacting with the WMS, keeping tight reins on user permissions is critical to the security of your data and your business. Centralising user maintenance across two or more facilities makes it much easier to apply granular permissions by role, enforcing WMS security. Omnichannel businesses also hold a much higher quantity of consumer data, and are therefore higher risk. Customer care is vital to everyone, so security is critical across all platforms.
6. Data visibility for comprehensive analysis
When it comes to generating reports to track attainment of key metrics, a consolidated view across the entire business makes a lot of sense. Having data for all warehouses in a single database facilitates your ability to generate this.
Kolok (IT Distributor and Bidvest Subsidiary), was the very first company to choose Manhattan’s WMS in South Africa (in partnership with Supply Chain Junction for the initial implementation). With the Manhattan warehouse management system in place, Kolok was able to think about their supply chain not just as a back-office function but as a tool to obtain a competitive advantage.
"One of the most important things in our industry is being able to deliver on the order when it’s taken, if you don’t you are pretty much guaranteed to lose the sale,” writes Mohammed Ebrahim (Operations Director), “Our ability to continually improve our warehousing and distribution processes has helped us to stay ahead of our competition”.
Since the initial benchmarking exercise of their distribution processes, Kolok have either achieved - or are in the process of implementing - changes that enabled them to:
- Reduce the floor warehouse labour complement.
- Grow daily order volumes.
- Receive and put away 16+ containers per day (where it used to take five days to unload and put away a single container).
- Implement ongoing stock counts, allowing Kolok to completely eliminate downtime when closing their warehouse for a full stock count.
- Implement a single step pick, pack and weight check process.
- Implement a customer batch order pick process which will increase pick productivity.
See the details, and find out how Kolok's success can be translated into a guide for your warehouse optimisation here: