E-commerce companies live and die according to the strength of their reputations. Without a physical presence to reassure and attract customers, reliability of service and quality of product provided must be second to none. Added to this, people are increasingly making buying decisions based on stock availability at a particular moment in time. Any problems – for instance, Black Friday bargains not being available as advertised – and the vendor must either suffer a negative review or do something drastic to placate the buyer. Both of these options are costly, but in different ways, says Eric Carter, Solutions Architect at Indigo Software.
As many e-commerce companies have started to appreciate, there comes a time in the development of every business when it is necessary to make strategic decisions about future operational priorities. Like how to organise the fulfilment side of things. Doing so will help to eliminate the disappointment of these aforementioned situations.
E-commerce retailing is a bit like making a cake. The front end seen by a customer, the online storefront, is like icing on top, with sponge as the product. The bit that makes the cake really stand out is the filling, the fulfilment service. Jam, chocolate or cream – this is the glue that makes all the difference between a memorable experience and something you would rather forget. In a supply chain context, this glue is enabled by the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and as every good baker understands only too well, having a clear connection between the cake icing – the online storefront – and the filing, is absolutely critical. This is why a synchronous link between front and back office functions of an e-commerce operation is so important to success.
Using best of breed warehouse management software like Indigo WMS, it is possible to create that synchronous connection and seamlessly integrate cake sponge, icing and filing. Having a real time link between the fulfilment centre or warehouse and the web shop will significantly improve warehouse management efficiencies.
Here are 7 key benefits of integrating a WMS with an e-commerce store front, for example, like Shopify or Magento, and creating a real-time connection between these vital operations.
**Cut time spent on managing inventory
Using a WMS for back end processes ensures you can concentrate on what e-commerce companies excel in, increasing sales and revenue. Automating warehouse functions with a WMS means time consuming inventory and order management is taken care of, leaving you free to concentrate on improving the rest of the business.
**Better organised warehouse layout
One of the biggest factors determining the ability to achieve OTIF (on time in full) KPIs is having a well organised warehouse, with inventory positioned according to its sales frequency. For example an integration with Shopify allows this data to be shared with the warehouse even before the sale is confirmed, inventory can even be sorted according to how much attention it is receiving online.
**Increase productivity and cut fulfilment time
Time is money and customers are getting a taste for Amazon style same day delivery. Anything you can do to increase productivity and reduce the time it takes for orders to reach the customer will reap rewards for your business. A WMS will automatically organise your warehouse and pickers can work more quickly, getting orders dispatched to the customer as swiftly as possible.
**Improves stock availability communication
Having a real-time integration between the WMS and your store front means you never miss another sales opportunity. Goods are only displayed as available for sale when stocks allow. Returns can be processed faster, with items back out for re-sale much quicker than when processes are manually driven. Added to this, replenishment orders – either through inhouse production or via third party suppliers – can be triggered automatically.
**Reduces losses and shrinkage
Using a WMS helps to eliminate warehouse shrinkage – when items go missing for unexplained reasons – either in the warehouse, or in transit to customers. All stock is individually accounted for and must be checked out through the system before it can leave the warehouse. A WMS should prevent the loss of items in the warehouse and shipping process.
**Improved safety standards
Now during the pandemic your warehouse operatives will be required to social distance and using a WMS ensures they can work safety within set zones in the warehouse, without compromising efficiency levels.
**Stay ahead with key customer insights
The saying ‘data rich and information poor’ is truer today than ever. Many organisations are literally swamped with data they cannot effectively extract value from. A WMS can resolve this issue, helping you implement real-time tracking and insightful management reporting.
If you are considering how to improve warehouse efficiency for your e-commerce business, ensure that any WMS can fully integrate with your chosen store front software and that the vendor has relevant industry sector experience.
Contact Indigo to discuss how we can help your e-commerce business prosper with a WMS.