So your warehouse is bulging – why? Because product demand is high and you’re holding buffer-stock to protect your customer service, like all well-trained inventory managers do. But are you holding the right stock? Are you actually protecting the brands you know because your ear to the market is too far removed? And suppliers, maybe you’re dictating what brands you push to retailers, funding poor demand info with rebates to keep retail buyers happy. But what about me, the guy who buys the stuff?
And your bulging warehouse needs to be efficient. Allocating enough pick faces for the chosen product range of items/articles that you’ve listed – because they consistently roll off the shelves… well, some shelves.
Again – what about me? I’m curious. I like to see new brands. When I’ve got spare cash I like to try new stuff. Oh, and I only have spare cash at the end of the month or week. Take gin for example, I like Gordon’s, and Bombay Sapphire is my treat. But now there are 60+ craft gins I hear or read about on the Internet and my retailer only has 15 on the shelf – none of which I want, and my retailer doesn’t know what I want.
There’s been an SKU explosion and, like your warehouse, my fridge can’t take it. Nor can your pick faces. If you don’t use random or temporary bins for slower movers in your warehouse, I won’t get what my new-brand mind wants and I will move to another retailer who does.
Your high-tech forecasting system is telling you the wrong story. Why not use social media to let me (and thousands of other consumers) tell you the true story. For some categories, we no longer buy what you supply – we seek what we want.
How can you boost your warehouse management with ERP?
1 – Put the Customer First
Don’t just be the supplier/distributor supply chain, think customer-first and become the fulfiller. Let me help you understand my demand now. Use social media or an ERP system that knows how to use this as input, to see new trending brands – not this year or this month, but this week or for the next few days. Help me with my assortment, select the complementary products too – the tonic not just the gin.
2 – Online is King
Take my orders online, offer suggestions that I “like” and create packed assortments for me – move to mixed batch shopping – 2 trending gins, 2 6-packs of tonics, and a cucumber. Shop for me and tell me based on up-to-date machine-learning, AI-driven recently-researched data – not the statistician’s last 3 years.
3 – Get the Goods to the Customer
Now you need to get my purchases to me. What about shopping-as-a-service? Use IoT, your ERP and mobile devices synchronized to enable micro delivery – Uber-style, taxi or bicycle. Or micro collection, local office park, fuel station, Post Net or post-office collection points.
Your warehouse processes will have to be more responsive – larger range, smaller stock quantities, super-short lead times after confirmation, just-in-time delivery from eager trending suppliers to you or your collection points. My time is money. Save it and I’ll probably spend it on your brand.
Written by Doug Hunter, Professional Services at SYSPRO Africa