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Dearly Departed: Three nightmares that signal it's time to lay your WMS to rest

15 October 2018 / by Ben Gruettner - VP for Snapfulfil North America

It’s the time of year when the undead invade our homes, walk our streets and swarm our offices. Usually they’re in costumes, and usually all they want is candy. 

But in the supply chain, October is also the time of year legacy systems haunt the warehouse. With peak season a month away, and consumer expectations higher than ever, warehouses will soon discover which of their management processes should head for greener pastures – they’re unable to keep up with demand, or they don’t actively improve the warehouse. 

Still, executives are often wary of technology overhauls. A 2017 McKinsey study found that the average supply chain has a digitization level of 43 percent, and only 2 percent of executives surveyed said the supply chain is the focus of their digitization efforts. 

As you evaluate your warehouse processes, consider these three nightmares that give warehouse managers the cold sweats – and how a best-of-breed warehouse management system (WMS) can keep the peak season monsters at bay.

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Nightmare #1: Your WMS maintains product information – but not process information 

For years, RF scanners were the gold standard in warehouse management. In fact, many warehouses still rely solely on RF technology for its deeper insight into product location and inventory levels. And while these systems are miles ahead of traditional pen-and-paper warehouse processes, they lack crucial functionality: they don’t track process data. 

To compete in the digital economy, warehouses must continually improve their processes. Inventory tracking is helpful, but unless you’ve achieved optimal efficiency when picking, packing and shipping products, your customer experience will remain at the status quo. Not only will a best-of-breed WMS enable deeper visibility into production location – it will also provide real-time data on the accuracy and efficiency of your processes, helping you address your pain points. 

Nightmare #2: Your WMS struggles with demand planning 

As eCommerce shifts shopping habits, failure to anticipate this year’s peak season demands – whether that’s during the holidays, the spring or the summer – will fuel your fulfillment pain points. Tracking your warehouse data allows for demand planning that alleviates the burden, but legacy systems won’t track trends over time to help you anticipate peak season challenges, hindering you as you schedule labor and order inventory. 

A best-of-breed WMS keeps track of product data over time, granting the visibility you need to analyze trends and better prepare your warehouse for shifts in demand. You’ll save money by properly allocating your resources, and you’ll avoid negative customer experiences caused by stock shortages or delayed shipping. 

Nightmare #3: Your WMS isn’t efficient enough for multichannel fulfillment 

To meet customers where they’re shopping, more businesses are adopting multichannel offerings. While this new frontier offers many opportunities for growth, it also poses many challenges, as warehouses try to better align their operations with the broader business in search of a seamless customer experience. But a legacy WMS won’t enable the efficiency needed to support multichannel fulfillment, stunting its users’ growth as competitors expand operations. 

To meet multichannel demands, you’ll need a best-of-breed WMS that can maintain rules based on product destination – whether you need to pull pallets of goods for retailer-bound orders, or pick individual items for direct-to-consumer shipping. Your warehouse management solution also needs the flexibility to integrate with your other critical systems, such as your point-of-sale (POS) solution, and provide accurate inventory availability and shipping updates from purchase to delivery. 

Don’t let zombie systems eat your brains

You don’t need to let legacy systems and manual processes haunt your warehouse operations. Though investing in an upgraded warehouse management system can seem frightening, it will ultimately help your warehouse optimize processes, plan for changing demands and smoothly transition into multichannel fulfillment – and get you back to sweet dreams.

 

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