As the demand for fast and seamless online shopping experiences continues to grow, warehouse efficiency – underpinned by cutting-edge technology – has never been more paramount to successful order fulfilment. With the rapid advancement of technology, warehouses across the globe now have access to a wide array of cutting-edge tools, systems and processes that can streamline operations, improve accuracy, and enhance productivity.
Despite this technology providing a streamlined, enhanced way of operating, it is important that warehouses consider the best practices of effective inventory management that work for them and their customers. Effective inventory management remains at the heart of warehouse operations with far-reaching benefits which include the systematic approach that encompasses forecasting, ordering, receiving, and allocating stock. In today’s business landscape, real-time access to inventory and order status is essential to a consumer’s experience and achieving customer satisfaction. Therefore, the key to revolutionising warehouse operations lies in embracing both traditional practices as well as new, innovative inventory management solutions.
Using cloud-based innovation to minimise risks
When shaping their warehouse and fulfilment operations, navigating the most secure way of managing inventory is a key priority for the majority of businesses in eCommerce. Cloud-based options provide a key to fulfilling this quota for retailers, with many businesses turning to the cloud for their inventory management needs.
Not only does Cloud-based inventory management have the advantage of minimising risks that legacy warehouse systems and servers might pose, but the cloud can also minimise any problems associated with the supply chain. For example, cloud-based inventory can provide the correct or most up-to-date information and an accurate view of how much stock is available and where that stock is located (in the warehouse or elsewhere).
Ultimately the cloud helps rule out the problems associated with traditional technology and instead, offers the advantage of speed when it comes to how much inventory is provided and processed in real-time. Remote access also poses a significant advantage in harnessing the cloud for inventory management and a vehicle to integrate with other tech as opposed to traditional data servers which can prove unreliable.
Modern tech and fulfilment associates – an invaluable combination
One of the major developments in warehouse operations has been automation as the benefits are far-reaching, especially when looking at the redeployment of labour to other value-added tasks. An automated warehouse versus a non-automated warehouse also poses attraction and benefits for a labour workforce, as well as productivity improvements, incentivising a workforce to build their careers with a retailer who has their finger on the pulse of tech mobility and innovation. Yetit is collaborative automation, that poses the greatest success.
Whilst the introduction of robots for certain processes is becoming commonplace in some warehouses, the use of modern tech working in collaboration with fulfilment associates on the ground continues to be an invaluable combination in a warehouse – a relationship that achieves the best results for both business and customer. As AI tech takes shape, its influence on eCommerce is still an evolving situation but it is clear across the industry that the human touch cannot be replaced by AI.
Automation: the importance of ROI and traditional fool-proof processes
Ultimately, businesses need to be careful they don’t forget about their ROI and traditional fool-proof processes because when it comes to automation, establishing the right process doesn’t come without risk.
As a result, businesses are cautioned to not be succumbed to the attractiveness of full automation without established processes in place to monitor it. This is because, in some cases, it will take longer and cost more to fully automate. There can be the temptation to automate so much that traditional return on investments and payback mechanisms are compromised.
Additionally, businesses will always need to source the right manager to oversee a warehouse facility to support infrastructure. The candidate might not be the typical person you’d look for to manage a warehouse, as they would need to possess a different set of skills to be able to manage and ensure automation processes are safeguarded, as well as troubleshoot any problems in real-time.
Optimising warehouse layouts, inventory placement and operational efficiency
There is also great importance in warehouse layout and storage capabilities. Forecasting and predicting storage space is paramount in inventory management running smoothly to achieve the desired result- a robust picking and delivery journey for the customer which will ultimately encourage them to keep spending with their brand of choice.
By utilising big data to leverage analytics and real-time insights, warehouse operators can optimise warehouse layouts, inventory placement and operational efficiency. A warehouse environment stores products in different ways and big data can track and identify how much case storage one area of the site has to store inbound pallets, for example.
Ultimately, the human element cannot be underestimated in the eCommerce space. Trends will evolve but retailers should still call upon the traditional tried and tested methods that result in effective inventory management in the warehouse. I As a result, effective and time-sensitive order fulfilment can only be realised if the right tech solutions are balanced with the safeguarding and problem-solving abilities of a human workforce.