Retailers, Distributors, small businesses are looking at building automation that allow for functions such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, heatmaps, and intelligent routing, etc. Looks like you’re playing catchup with them. Time to change?
The time of the foreman walking around the warehouse with a clipboard in hand, cigarette in mouth shouting out orders are long gone. Let’s not start with you putting your hand up to say, “We don’t allow smoking at work anymore.”
This was the warehouse operator’s everyday scene at least a decade ago. For those who missed it, this was even considered romantic.
Is there anything wrong with this image? It’s the almost-dirty word “manual” if you haven’t already guessed. It may not be four letters but it is a dreaded swear word in today’s warehouse and fulfilment world. Customers complain about missing items, clients go elsewhere, or worse, the swear word can be used to describe your facility.
We are seeing more retailers and brands investing in artificial intelligence (AI), robots, and other technologies. Science fiction? It’s a nightmare for anyone not moving in the same direction.
My friends in the warehousing industry and fulfilment business are talking about automation. We don’t mean the drinks vending machines.
If you’re not automated, this is the time to consider it seriously. You should catch up fast, just like your customers, such as distributors, retailers, and brands, who are moving up in the technology chain.
Let’s start by looking at how to keep your customers informed in real-time and anytime. This means setting up what is called a customer portal. They pay good money to use your space and look forward to the next shipment out when orders come in. As organizations running a living, breathing business, they need to know how much inventory they have and where it’s stored. It is essential to have accurate and real-time information about all of this. With consumers trends changing in the blink of an eye – accuracy and speed is the most important thing.
Mobile barcode scanning
Using an electronic device that registers a whole range of data by merely scanning the SKU is infinitely useful. It is immediately stored in the system, unlike old-school paper recording where errors by the person recording it and losing the sheets of paper is a real thing. Imagine being able instantly to access data or share it with customers. The machine does that.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Have you billed company X?” A bill not made is not charging for services rendered. Paying in cash is more expensive than not getting paid. When billing is automated, the machine never forgets and it even sends reminders if payments are not received.
Be prepared for a flood of orders
Customers are quickly moving to multi-channel or omnichannel distribution. When business is good, a rise in order processing will have stretched your limited resources. All hell probably breaks loose when orders go up by two or three hundred percent.
WMS will help you prepare for large volumes and inventory allocations. You’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear when the money rushes in – rather than pulling your hair out just trying to cope.
Like the Dutch building levees in anticipation of the big floods, you too should get digital help to prevent being drowned by the “big event”.
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