19 Dec Disruptive or Essential Technology?
Recent news, surveys and research highlight increasingly high consumer expectations of delivery, and how retailers are responding with innovation. Irrespective of retailer size, a flawless, well communicated delivery operation is key to standing out. And with Peak 2017 underway it’s worth noting the changes, so that you compete with the best in 2018.
The main change that impacts ecommerce operations is the capture, storage and analysis of data. Understanding how to use this data effectively is key to staying ahead of the game, which carries both short and long term benefits.
On a day to day basis decision making will become less ‘centralised’. Warehouse processes will become dynamic and smart, reacting logically, in real time, to information that the data provides. Consumers will be able to make in-flight changes to their order, from the minute they purchase the product to the minute it is delivered. Rule based decision making by the WMS will manage the changes required and drive the warehouse automation. This will allow retailers to cope with higher order volumes and the wider variety of delivery options that consumers have come to expect. For example, one hour delivery, ‘try before you buy’, self service click & collect etc. Add in the possibility of Brexit induced labour and skills shortages, then suddenly the ability of integrated warehouse automation and software systems, to improve productivity and create competitive advantage, becomes more essential to retailers of any size.
Integrated warehouse automation and software systems make time consuming, labour intensive tasks faster to complete and more accurate. They improve working conditions, making the operation safer and enabling employees to move away from low skilled repetitive tasks. Overall the customer experience improves and ROI is faster than you might think.
Long Term Planning
Longer term, continual data capture allows more in-depth analysis and forward planning such as:
- Monitoring KPIs (i.e. stretch targets)
- Identifying pinch points and bottlenecks (e.g. stock outages, pack rates)
- Investment in the system to support business growth
- Proactive maintenance programmes
Central to successful growth is a warehouse management system that integrates seamlessly, in real-time with automated equipment, and your other high level host systems such as an ERP platform (Enterprise Resource Planning). However it doesn’t all have to happen at once. Your systems provider should be able to advise what’s needed to begin with, and then help you design a system that can scale up as and when you need it to.
Conveyor Networks design and build intelligent, bespoke, automated systems. From system design & build, through to servicing and maintenance, Conveyor Networks provide customers with the best fit for their business and budget.
Conveyor Networks have also developed a warehouse management software platform called imio (Interface Manager Inbound & Outbound). Developed with an “automation up” philosophy, the software platform started life as ‘middleware’; interfacing between automated equipment and the incumbent host WMS. It is a robust, scalable, easily deployed warehouse management system, engineered with micro services based architecture and with a modern GUI.
Click here to read our Range Plus case study which demonstrates how small but growing retailers can make best use of software and automation. Pricing options include Capex or fixed monthly payments.