The Modern Warehouse: Welcome to the New Normal
They say change is inevitable and if you work in warehouses, you’ve seen it. Order profiles are different these days. B2B companies are making smaller, more frequent shipments. B2C customers are buying across channels using a wide range of fulfilment options. They’ve also come to expect faster shipping that is either low cost or free.
Complexity is up. Delivery windows are tighter and the cost to fulfil keeps increasing. The era of connected commerce is here. So, the question of the day is this: What do you need to do to win?
Warehouses largely remain single-channel facilities designed to handle large volumes with maximal efficiency. Batches build up and when work is released, DC assets operate at full capacity. This is the classic “wave” we all know and love. It’s a fulfilment method that has served us well and still has tremendous value. But how can you fulfil more frequent orders, in the right sequence, based on ever-changing company priorities and shipping dates? How can you consistently maximise throughput and capacity?
With B2B orders looking more like smaller B2C orders, and e-commerce sales growing, companies are trying to meet new demand in several ways. They hire more full-time people or bring on temporary workers to manage peak season. Obviously, there are costs associated with expanding the workforce. There’s also a need to train new employees and deal with the lack of productivity, and potential for errors, that come with any learning curve.
Buying more equipment is an option. It’s also expensive and needs to be installed, integrated and maintained.
Finally, some companies struggling to integrate e-commerce into their existing processes are forced to sink massive capital into building new distribution centres. All of these methods negatively affect margins. They’re essentially just band-aids – very costly band-aids.
So where does that leave us? The status quo in dealing with changing purchasing patterns is unsustainable. But how do you meet the demands of a transformed marketplace more profitably? The good news is there’s a way to maximise the capacity of your people, equipment and inventory – even increase it.
The key is being nimble and flexible enough to keep your resources highly utilised through a waveless fulfilment strategy called order streaming. Designed specifically for smaller, e-commerce orders, it is the perfect complement to the wave. Bring them together and you can truly begin to Push Possible®.
In upcoming blogs, we’ll talk about the characteristics of the right warehouse management solution and a pull model of fulfilment that can position you to succeed today and into the future.