Digitalizing your Warehouse Management (WMS) and Supply chain systems

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COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it drastic changes that have become the new norm. Online shopping has seen tremendous growth and acceptance in the last few months and many people have started embracing it. People have now normalized purchasing food items, clothes, electronics and much more online.

With this growth, sellers have been stretched and their legacy systems have been brought to a litmus test which has proved insufficient for the current shopping trends and demand.

Certainly, retailers who put their digital houses in order early were able to cater best to their customers and also won over new customers, while those who remained tied to a traditional bricks-and-mortar approach suffered, particularly during the lockdowns.

As a core part of the supply chain system, warehouse management plays a critical role in the entire process.

And just as we saw in retail, it is those warehousing providers who embraced digital transformation that have been able to rise to the challenge most effectively.

No doubt, COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst to trends that were already well underway in the warehousing sector, but it has done so with a force few could have reckoned with at the beginning of the year. Such unexpected events present various challenges to warehouses including capacity disruption, with many forced to cope with a sudden rise in volume and throughput for certain types of products such as masks and medical supplies and equally sudden declines in others.

Meanwhile, the abrupt rise in e-commerce also had a significant impact on warehouses. Indeed, from a warehousing perspective, the way e-commerce and traditional orders are handled is completely different, and this causes shifts in the size and frequency of warehouse orders. E-commerce orders are typically smaller, whereas traditional store fulfillment orders are larger but less frequent. The way warehouses process these in terms of the allocations and picking is completely different. Yet these are all changes that warehouses must take in their stride.

So how can warehouses adapt to these sudden changes, and how can they be better prepared for a world in which demand may be more sporadic? The answer is that warehouses need to digitally transform and place the cloud at the heart of their transformation plans. Increasingly, warehouse management systems (WMS), need to be automated and cloud-based, allowing for rapid and seamless upscaling and downscaling of computing capacity – as is all too often required during times of sudden change.

While traditional on-premise WMS usually involves costly and time-consuming provisioning of hardware and calibration of software, cloud-based WMS can be installed rapidly – in days rather than weeks or months – and also receives upgrades automatically, with no need for manual installation. All of this has the effect of helping warehouses raise their game, while also saving time and money.

By adopting a modern cloud-based WMS, with an intuitive interface, warehouses can simplify the technical aspects of their operations, which also helps with staff training and can allow a far larger pool of employees to be trained to use the system.

So what, if anything, is holding some warehouses back? In the past, there were some fears among warehouse owners and managers that cloud-based solutions could leave them vulnerable, for example in the event of an internet outage or a data breach. These fears were heightened for warehouses in more remote location, where internet services once lacked the levels of redundancy required by industry. But today the situation is very different – the playing field is filled with various internet providers including those that offer uninterruptible optic internet.

On the contrary, cloud-based WMS can also help warehouses to improve their cybersecurity rather than leaving them more vulnerable. Public cloud providers have invested heavily in cybersecurity, and security is increasingly built into WMS systems. In addition, unified solutions can also help to reduce the type of vulnerabilities that can arise in more complex, multi-vendor solutions.

If you would like to find out what warehouse management systems are available, and which one is most suitable for your business, Call +256414665846 (Uganda) or +254202305051(Kenya) or email us at info@flaxem.com

 

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