Choosing the right solution is key to remaining competitive
There are a variety of key factors in making a warehouse operation as efficient as it can be. A significant one of these is people – even in automated warehouses. Picking, packing, managing inventory and documentation are all part of the manual process, and aiding this process with the right IT systems can create bottom-line benefits by enabling complete control of the supply chain.
In this highly competitive arena, meeting – and staying ahead of – customer demand for fast deliveries is a crucial factor. Warehousing fulfilment and distribution providers have to find cost-effective ways of making their operations efficient without cutting corners, and sophisticated but not complicated. With a plethora of IT systems available, it’s important to weigh up a variety of considerations when looking to implement one, or switch systems.
Getting the foundations right
Choosing a provider with a proven track record, particularly in the sector you’re operating in, is a good start. Ask about access to information about how other companies in your field have improved business operations with the implementation of the system. There will be Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system providers who may specialise in certain sectors, so it’s worth researching ones that have the right experience and expertise and understand your sector, for the most successful implementation. It’s also advisable to explore what partners the provider works with, to ensure you have full access to a suite of add-on software to enhance your system or provide scope to scale up when the time is right.
Facilitating smooth operations for greater customer satisfaction
Pick errors, lost bins and packers having to spend time referring to paper orders is a drain on business resources and profits – and then there’s the impact on customers to consider. The cost associated with errors and additional administrative tasks is added to by the potential for unhappy customers and lost business, so it makes sense to employ a system that makes operations more efficient, keeps costs down and customers happy. Furthermore, ensuring inventory is effectively managed with the right ERP system will also enhance customer experience, as the right goods are available at the right time. Cloud inventory is something all warehousing and distribution firms should be using or considering, to ensure this is the case.
Gaining insights to better operations
Using an ERP system that has the capacity to record and distil data is a must if insights are to be gained for informed decision-making. Access to real-time data is crucial in efficient warehousing, as changes in customer buying habits can be frequent, unpredictable and seasonal. Factors such as weather conditions or traffic can also greatly affect fulfilment. Having a system that can collect data on all of these factors, in real-time, and include information such as inventory levels, means that data that can be analysed for insights on how to create efficiencies. Be sure to understand the full capabilities of any system you’re investing in, to ascertain that the features required for your business are the features available.
Aim to future proof your investment
Technology is always advancing, so future-proofing in the technological era is no mean feat. However, using an ERP provider that always offers the latest software, with no version locks – effectively providing a flexible solution for your business – means your investment is sound. Negating costs of database maintenance, and direct hardware and software costs means there’s no need to worry about staying up-to-date being at an additional cost. Cybersecurity is also a great concern for many businesses, and so choosing a system that has the right security in place will give you peace of mind that your systems and data are safe.
The human touch
Let’s face it, great partnerships come down to the people that make them, so ultimately, choosing a firm that can offer a consulting team with the right experience and approach will make the implementation of any business system more successful and less painful. A bespoke approach to your specific needs is what will make the system work optimally for your business. Get to know the people behind the service to decide if the team is right for you.
Good warehousing involves having everything in its place and getting products out on time while maximising productivity and saving money. With the right ERP system, it doesn’t have to be the unachievable Holy Grail.