Omni-channel commerce and the warehouse management system imperative


iStock_000019967104_FullOmni-channel commerce is having a profound impact on virtually every aspect of enterprise supply chains, from front-end customer fulfillment strategies to back-end order management concerns. It's important that companies have high-performance, sophisticated systems to handle the rising number of variables contained in every supply chain transaction, in order to deliver to customers the heightened level of service and product availability they increasingly expect. Warehouse management is at the focal point of these efforts, as companies revamp warehouse management processes in order to make them better serve overall objectives.

A recent study by ARC Advisory Group emphasized the link between effective warehouse management systems and an increased competitive advantage in the hard-fought world of omni-channel commerce. The extensive report found that the "paradigm shift" in omni-channel commerce is the top factor driving adoption of innovative warehouse management systems. The convergence of brick-and-mortar retail with the increased importance of the digital shopping experience means that organizations have to re-engineer their warehouse management to provide consistent, complete support across channels. 

"The growth of e-commerce has amplified fulfillment complexity, presenting WMS suppliers with opportunities to provide retailers with support for this change," stated Clint Reiser, an enterprise software analyst and the study's principal author. "Omni-channel retailers are now integrating brick and mortar and e-commerce distribution channels in an attempt to streamline costs and develop a holistic and extended view of inventory,"

The benefits of upgrading the warehouse management system
There are a variety of advantages that organizations can expect through the adoption of a next-generation warehouse management system. Among them are accuracy and visibility of inventory at both a macro and micro level, with company personnel able to get a clear picture of product movement within individual facilities as well as across the supply chain. This accuracy, in turn, enables better documentation of shipping and transactions and cuts down on misplaced or poorly distributed inventory. 

Trickle-down advantages of a new warehouse management system include labor-saving costs, the study found, with sophisticated tools relieving workers of many time-intensive manual processes, such as data entry and inventory searches. Because the system can tell personnel where all products are and need to go at all times, workers don't have to navigate between multiple channels to ensure accurate shipments and handling. Most of all, bringing every aspect of the omni-channel solution into one convenient, comprehensive warehouse management system gives organizations the speed, responsiveness and real-time internal visibility they need to set lofty customer fulfillment goals - and then meet them. 

Shifting paradigms and the new omni-channel commerce horizon
One paradigm shift requires another paradigm shift, as Forbes contributor Steve Banker recently observed. Next-gen warehouse management systems, he wrote, come with new forms of logic that help users imbue their put wall processes, e-commerce fulfillment and shipping documentation with granular insights, analytics and business intelligence - not just for digital channels, but for physical ones as well.

Competitive advantage will increasingly be restricted to only those companies that are able to not only satisfy, but anticipate, customer wants and needs. This means that products bought online need to be delivered rapidly and accurately, but it also really means that customers should be able to have their choice of pick-up methods, customer service tools and rewards - all aspects of the overall supply chain that rely on a warehouse management system to function correctly. Getting the brick-and-mortar up to speed with the online channel is vital, and organizations need to be able to ensure complete satisfaction with any combination of customer circumstances.

4 ways IBM Sterling Warehouse Management System is an agent of change
In order to ensure that all omni-channel commerce needs are fulfilled, organizations need to adopt a warehouse management system that blends proactive intelligence with easy user control. Here are four benefits of IBM Sterling Warehouse Management System offers:

  • Real-time control: With a centralized repository for inventory and labor data, the IBM Sterling WMS provides simple, effective administrative oversight that doesn't require so many man hours.
  • Network-wide transparency: From the smallest stockroom to the largest distribution center, the WMS connects all facilities to the same information and process adjustments.
  • Analytical insights: As well as optimizing current infrastructure, the WMS can be used to leverage performance data into actionable suggestions for better, more cost-effective performance.
  • Configurability: Not one size fits all, the WMS can be customized to target an organization's immediate needs and scale to accommodate changing objectives over time. 

Ready to plan your omnichannel strategy?  Learn more with Lightwell's complimentary guide and follow the conversation on Twitter using #Omnichannel. In the meantime - check out these related articles: