An effective warehouse management strategy is key to staying competitive and meeting consumers’ expectations in the omnichannel world. Knowing the available inventory and assets only in distribution centers is inefficient and lacks value, but when applied across an entire supply chain network, inventory visibility propagates effective warehouse management. To understand this paradox, warehouse managers need to understand the pitfalls of omnichannel warehouse management and how to develop a winning strategy.
The Problem: SMBs Fail to Realize the Scope of Omnichannel-Driven Systems
As explained by Larry Lewis of Chain Store Age, many retailers continue to fall short in developing effective warehouse management tactics that benefit omnichannel supply chains. Although the main issue lies in the lack of visibility into assets and inventory in warehouses, distribution centers, and stores, an important part of the problem can also be found in transportation management. After all, inventory in transit is still inventory, and lack of insight and visibility into all inventory and its respective costs, even while being transported, contributes to problems in omnichannel warehouse management.
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As a result, stores and regional warehouses end up overstocked or understocked, and carrying costs soar. Meanwhile, consumers may not be able to get products as quickly as they would with the advanced transportation network of Amazon. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) must work to improve both warehouse and transportation management to gain inventory control indicative of effective warehouse management.
The Solution: A New, Integrated Warehouse Management System Embraces Omnichannel
Unlocking the secrets to effective warehouse management in an omnichannel world is a complex task, but technology can simplify this challenge. It is key to an effective warehouse management strategy and brings disparate systems together. Fortunately, modern warehouse management technologies, including a cloud-based warehouse management system, can be integrated with existing systems faster and easier than in any other time in history, allowing SMBs to stay competitive with big box retailers and Amazon.
The Reward: Best Practices to Develop and Maintain Turnkey, Effective Warehouse Management
Several of these practices, reports John Kruzan via Logistics Viewpoints, include:
- Getting insights into transportation costs, especially inbound and procurement costs.
- Defining the carrying and shipping costs of your product.
- Using multiple shipping methods, according to customers’ requests.
- Integrating storefront and warehouse systems to offer ship to store and pickup in store.
- Working with local, regional, and national carriers to take advantage of cheaper and faster shipping options.
- Using scalable technologies, like SaaS, to accommodate changes in warehouse inventory.
- Optimizing slots to reduce carrying costs and move products faster.
- Using order streaming to reduce poor labor utilization and speed up order fulfillment.
Create an Effective Warehouse Management Program by Leveraging Other Resources Now
Aside from gaining visibility into existing systems, warehouse managers must take advantage of all resources to develop an effective warehouse management strategy for an omnichannel supply chain. As Maida Napolitano of Logistics Management explains, companies wanting to experience faster-than-average growth into omnichannel, especially those with zero or limited systems and processes built for managing omnichannel order fulfillment, may need to outsource their warehouse management.