The state of warehouse management continues to evolve. According to Roberto Michel of Logistics Management, warehouse management trends of 2020 will reflect an increasing focus on more profitability, efficiency, business scalability, and continuous improvement. Consider these additional data points from the “Warehouse and Distribution Center Operations Survey”
“Capital expenditure (capex) plans remained healthy. The average projected capex for the next year was $1.27 million, nearly identical to last year. While the average respondent was at a smaller operation this year, which likely lowered the median, 9% plan to spend $10 million or more.
Inability to attract and retain a qualified hourly workforce was again the leading industry issue, cited by 50% of respondents.
Responses around technology use were mixed in some regards, but generally pointed toward a continued surge in the willingness to apply automation and software. For example, on a question about actions for managing DC costs, 23% said they were adding automation to contain costs, up from 15% last year.”
To maintain successful warehouses, supply chain leaders need to understand the role of warehouse prowess on efficient shipping and the top trends occurring in the market to enable it.
Dropshipping offers an opportunity to fulfill e-commerce and direct to consumer orders by transferring fulfillment from warehouses directly to manufacturers. While this trend is a continuation of past years’ trends, acceleration within the use of dropshipping will increase throughout 2020. By alleviating the constraints of fulfilling orders, warehouses have more opportunities to expand it can handle the additional needs of their distribution centers, such as SKU proliferation.
Reverse logistics remains an area of critical concern for those that wish to understand the leading warehouse management trends and differentiators through the coming year. Successful reverse logistics includes effective returns management. Unfortunately, up to 34% of consumers make impulse purchases through social media sites that make it easier to buy products directly. As a result, increasing the capabilities and processes within returns management will help supply chains stand apart from one another.
The use of a warehouse management system (WMS) is essential to either full or partial automation, reports Mark Wilkinson of Supply Chain Digital. Moreover, advanced technologies, ranging from predictive analytics through augmented reality, will require the use of a common, core system, such as a WMS. Additional benefits of a WMS include inventory optimization, slot optimization, labor-management, and even integration within the TMS.
The notion of elastic logistics is relatively simple, referring to the ability to expand and retract shipping capabilities as demand shifts, reports Supply Chain 24/7. Elastic logistics are temporary solutions that allow for rapid scalability and flexibility within the warehouse and supply chain. Moreover, elastic logistics rely on advanced application programming interfaces (APIs) and real-time data to function.
Any discussion of warehouse management is incomplete without reviewing the state of robotics and co-bots in the supply chain. Robotics provide an opportunity to improve labor-management, reduced safety risks, and automated additional processes within the warehouse. Automation within the warehouse will naturally result in stronger demand for more logistics capabilities for transportation management. Thus, improvements within the warehouse will lend themselves to improvements within transportation management as a whole.
Transparency is the name of the game in supply chain management, and the same applies to warehouse management. Through shipping APIs, warehouse leaders and shippers will look to provide more information to all their partners, including customers. Customer-facing shipping tracking API capabilities will alleviate the “when do I get it” anxiety expressed by many consumers, including those of business-to-business supply chains. More importantly, APIs will stand out as a key trend on their own right, providing more seamless sharing of data and automation throughout all supply chain processes.
The coming year will stimulate supply chains around the globe through technologies. The same technologies that power advanced transportation management will give rise to more efficient processes within warehouse management trends and vice versa. All supply chain leaders—from warehouse managers through truckers, need to understand the vital role of warehouse management as a building block of successful supply chains.
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