Signs You Need to Change Your Warehouse Management System
Warehouse management systems (WMS) are used by warehousing and distribution companies, shipping companies, e-commerce businesses, and so on. When a WMS is properly implemented, it can provide a valuable inventory management system that lets workers and managers keep an eye on inventory levels, shipments, and the overall flow of goods in and out of the warehouse. Unfortunately, not all WMS are created equal, and simply having a warehouse management system doesn’t necessarily mean it is meeting your needs properly. Here are some warning signs that can suggest your WMS may be due for a change.
It Can’t Handle Specialized Inventory Tracking
There is a difference between a WMS being able to track inventory and being able to track your inventory. No two companies handle the exact same products, and some companies may have a number of goods that require specialized tracking measures that your WMS can’t support. For instance, if a subset of your goods has the potential to expire, it’s important that your WMS is able to track shelf life and deliver notifications if an expiration occurs—but it also can’t demand this type of information for every product it records. Your WMS may be able to track quantity and location of stock, but some goods warrant the tracking of lot and serial numbers as well. If you find that you need to come up with workarounds for specific products you stock, then it may be time to upgrade.
Your Customers Are Complaining
The frontline experience is often the first indicator that your WMS may not be performing up to snuff. If customers are increasingly complaining of order inaccuracies or late deliveries, then you need to find out if your WMS is part of the problem. There is no universal reason why a WMS may be negatively impacting your ability to meet customer needs. A few examples can include: a legacy WMS causing bugs or errors due to compatibility or interface issues, a legacy WMS lacking useful stock control features that more modern systems include, the WMS not delivering information in an intuitive fashion, or the WMS’s interface being confusing and leading to input errors. A good WMS is capable of producing an order accuracy rating of 95% at minimum. If you are falling below this number, it’s worth considering if your system might need a change.
You Have No Idea How It Works
A warehouse management system is an integral part of logistical operations and inventory control, so it is vitally important that it is actually understandable. The people who use your WMS should be able to comprehend how stock is input, identified, shipped, and sorted without resorting to shrugging their shoulders and saying, “That’s just how it works.” This is a problem that crops up most often in legacy WMS but is not unique to them. As operations grow and your business expands, the WMS ends up becoming a homebrewed mix of solutions stacked on top of solutions. While effective at the time, this results in a confusing jumble that can be especially impenetrable for any new employees and also raises the risk of serious errors arising. If it is becoming difficult to make heads or tails of how your WMS works, then it may be time to switch out for a more streamlined and user-friendly system.
Look to Lean Supply Solutions for Effective Warehouse Management
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party order fulfillment company in Toronto whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chains. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, accurate, and quality results.
To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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Benefits of Using Distributed Order Management in Retail
Distributed order management is a way for retail businesses to broker order fulfillments across the services of multiple parties while providing a global, integrated view so that inventory management can be intelligently sourced. More precisely (and less confusingly), distributed order management is a system that lets retail owners get an eagle-eye look at their supply chain, coordinate and compare orders from different suppliers (including third parties), and even get real-time visibility on orders in transit. In a sense, distributed order management is the retail version of the inventory management systems that order fulfillment services use to track shipments and stock across multiple platforms. Therefore, taking advantage of distributed order management lets retail businesses maintain a high level of flexibility and effectiveness in their fulfillment processes. Here’s how.
Manage Multiple Fulfillment Processes at Once
Understanding the benefits of distributed order management is easier if you compare it to how the traditional systems work. Traditionally, order management systems assume a relatively static company and are tied to a limited number of suppliers. This means that retailers have to use multiple systems to see all of their suppliers, may be unable to view third-party options, and lack the adjustability needed for flexible business practices.
In sharp contrast, distributed order management forms a central hub from which your order fulfillment activities can flow. In addition to being receptive to third-party options, distributed order management lets you compare price points between suppliers and even split orders between parties in order to optimize potential savings. Workflows can be defined and differentiated for alternate types of orders and demand can even be sensed and monitored for how it can influence ordering.
Distributed order management systems are an excellent way to unify disparate sales channels and their associated systems. This makes inventory sourcing a much faster and overall more effective and efficient process. Products can be sourced from different channels or even other store locations quickly and with full visibility. Perhaps most importantly, this cross-channel integration means that your information will be more accurate overall. One of the inherent hazards of multiple channels using distinct systems is that they may not all be on the same page. Inventory accounts from one system may deviate from another, be slow to update, or simply not reflect the real-world status of stock. Unifying these channels allows for a single, true picture to emerge and be used.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Retail is under constant pressure to improve profits and reduce costs, so trying to keep excess inventory to a minimum is a common way of improving the bottom line. Unfortunately, this places businesses at increased vulnerability to unexpected developments or the fallout from demand predictions being off. This results in stores commonly facing out-of-stock moments and lacking a reliable way to get the customer what they want. Distributed order management helps solve this problem in a few different ways. First, it has a unified view of your inventory and supplies, so you will never be caught unawares. Second, you can use cross-channel integration to track inventory at other store locations, alternate suppliers, or even goods that are in transit to the store. This expands the options you have for getting the customer what they want and locating and shipping your available-to-promise inventory.
Look to Lean Supply Solutions for Efficient Distributed Order Management
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party order fulfillment company in Toronto whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chains. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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Using Logistical Efficiency to Improve the Customer Experience
For any business, but especially e-commerce ones, your longevity is going to be determined not just by how many customers you attract but by how many you are able to convert into regular, loyal patrons. Logistics management and logistics efficiency can both play an important role in this task, primarily because of how central the shipping experience is to the e-commerce customer. The delivery is the most direct form of interaction between an e-commerce business and the customer after all, so it makes sense that logistic performance would have a lasting impact on their goodwill and willingness to buy from you again. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking to see if your logistics strategy can give a good customer experience.
Be Specific and Be Transparent
Be direct and clear about what your shipping options are, their terms and conditions, and any associated costs. This is not the time or place to try some marketing twists and make customers sort out the difference between “Light Speed,” “Quick Speed,” and “High Speed” delivery. Be concise and to the point and ideally your page should be able to give an estimated delivery date for each option you have available. Clearly lay out how much each shipping option costs, as well as any conditions you may have for free or reduced shipping costs. This also applies to any reverse logistics services or logistics strategy you may have—make sure terms and conditions for returns are clearly laid out and understandable.
Once the order is placed and the shipping process has begun, customers will appreciate being kept updated on its progress. Any effective supply chain service will have a way of tracking your shipments, ideally in real time, and letting customers have access to this information for their orders can go a long way to improving their experience. People don’t like unknowns and the piece of mind these trackers can bring should not be underestimated.
Use a Good Information Management System
An information management system is any software that helps you coordinate and/or monitor supply chain activities, warehouse inventory levels, order tracking, customer orders, and so on. An integrated information management system enhances logistical efficiency by providing a central hub through will all information flows and can be accessed. On the customer end of things, a good information system means that your website will have up-to-date stock counts, be able to process orders faster, and can help keep customers informed on the status of their deliveries.
Automate Your Communications
Automating your communications technology is a basic step that helps streamline and speed up the order fulfillment process. Being able to relay orders between departments, inform customers of the status of their order or any delays, and otherwise take actions without requiring manual sign-off or initiation can be a huge enhancement to logistical efficiency. Naturally, there will be some processes that can’t or shouldn’t be strictly automated, but if there are ever any tasks that are simply “take info from point A and give it to person B” then you’ve got a great candidate for automation.
Maximize Your Storage Space
Your storage space should ideally have a “Goldilocks” relationship with your inventory needs—not too big, not too small, but just right. Being unable to store enough inventory to regularly meet customer demand only leads to shortages, delays, and lost opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Engaging in a warehousing solution or third-party partnership that lets you expand your inventory as needed is an effective form of logistics management that is worth consideration by any ecommerce business.
Look to Lean Supply Solutions for Logistically Efficient Order Fulfillment Services
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party order fulfillment company in Toronto whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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Top Benefits of a Green Supply Chain
The efficiency of your supply chain services is rooted in how well you streamline processes and balance costs. It can therefore seem odd to try and expand into seemingly unnecessary areas, like green supply chains. This is understandable, after all a supply chain is not the first thing people think about when looking for green approaches, nor is a sustainable supply chain going to make the most dramatic impact on the environment. However, this overlooks some very real net benefits that can be seen when incorporating sustainable elements into your supply chain. By going a little bit out of the way, you can end up with a more effective—and in some cases, more efficient—set of processes over all.
How Do You Make a Supply Chain Green?
It may help to first explain why we actually mean when we talk about sustainable supply chains. The central element is reduction of waste and your carbon footprint. For instance, shipping takes a large number of packaging materials, some of which are made from plastic—which in turn is made from oil. By taking steps to reduce packaging materials used or switching to materials made from sustainable materials, you can help lower the impact of your own operations. Another example can be taking steps to synchronize deliveries and minimize vehicle travel, which can lower emissions. Lastly, having a good returns policy that lets you reuse, refurbish, and recycle products can save unnecessary waste from landfills.
The Benefits of Going Green
Improvements in Financial Performance
One thing that can get overlooked when thinking about sustainable supply chain services is that they are largely connected to reducing inefficiencies. Saving on packaging materials, transportation costs, and recapturing value from returned products all have very clear benefits to your bottom line. Most of the time, the only difference in a cost-saving and green initiative is the stat at which you end up measuring. A reduction in packaging costs often translates to an increase in renewable packaging. Have your partnered with another company to share shipping costs and space? You’re now effectively carpooling and reducing oil use and emissions. Realizing the way that green initiatives can improve your bottom line is often just a matter of changing your thinking.
Enhancing Your Brand Image
Taking the initiative for green supply chain strategies will earn dividends among your customer base. Today’s modern consumers are also environmentally-conscious ones. They will respond well upon learning that a company is making an effort to go green and do its part to help the environment. You can try and sell this angle by offering reports on how much material or fuel has been saved or by how much emission has been reduced. If you know how your competition handles its practices, you might even be able to offer direct comparisons.
Get Green Supply Solutions with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party logistics (3PL) fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chains. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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