Technology has forever changed the way we buy things. Omni-channel retail has changed the way we receive and return the items we purchase. With the click of a button, we can now order something we see at the store and have it delivered within days directly to our door. We can also return that item to the store if we don’t like it. At least, that’s the direction many stores have moved in, creating a truly omni-channel experience for their customers.
All of this is putting greater stress on smart warehouse design & WMS/WCS integration. In an omni-channel environment, managers need access to real-time information in order to keep up with the fast pace of fulfillment for on-demand orders. The logistics of delivering those orders to consumers requires orchestration & flexibility.
In NetSuite’s article, The Four Biggest Omni-channel Challenges of 2014, they highlight Order Orchestration:
Fulfilling the orders of the omni-channel customer demands every warehouse, distribution center and retail location become a component of a single, tightly integrated, enterprise-wide inventory. Offering online purchasing, but convenient in-store pickup, is just part of the equation. Store inventories can be used to reduce fulfillment time and costs, or to reduce overstock and avoid markdowns.
Order orchestration requires that every warehouse be an extension of the overall inventory supply, able to take an item from the shelf to delivery at any time. Warehouse management systems (WMS) keep up with the data and help to automate robots, conveyors, & inventory numbers. When a WMS can’t meet fulfillment requirements, there may be a warehouse control system (WCS) that can fill the void. Finding the right fit for your warehouse needs is essential to controlling costs.
Material handling has always rewarded intelligent fulfillment processing. However, creating a supply chain to deliver for an omni-channel retailer requires additional forethought for zone batch picking, multi-order picking, pick and pass, priority processing, multi-carton processing, and more.
With new technological advancements emerging all the time, it’s important to stay aware of what’s next. Big retailers are already looking into same-day delivery for online orders. In order to meet the high logistical demands of omni-channel fulfillment, automated controls and robots that were once a dream of sci-fi writers are being integrated into warehouses across the country.
Learn how top brick & mortar retailers like Walmart plan to take advantage of their offline presence to help meet online demands through new warehouse distribution centers. Walmart calls it their next generation fulfillment network. Read the Forbes article.
Next Level Storage manufactures material handling products & delivers solutions to the warehouse logistics market. Learn more about our innovative FlexRack Pallet Rack or contact us at 800-230-8846 today to discuss your next project.