Entering the second quarter, April 2021, we continue to witness the rapidly evolving landscape of supply chains, logistics, and warehousing. A combination of Coronavirus lockdowns, innovative technology developments, and new trade deals has left its mark. Here we highlight the key changes which businesses must now address to keep ahead of the competition throughout 2021 and in future.
NDC to Micro DC The pandemic is largely responsible for the latest boom in eCommerce. Lockdown was instrumental in devising the shift from high-street consumerism to predominantly online retail. The pandemic rendered an increasing number of bricks and mortar retail space defunct as businesses transcended into the digital realm. Adjusting to this change, many have chosen to invest in smaller, regional automated distribution centres, in favour of larger, more traditional NDCs. Located in urban areas, and often closer to the end-consumer, these Micro Distribution Centres (Micro DC) are more responsive to consumer demand. They could also better facilitate last-mile rapid home delivery and collection systems. These Micro DCs may be based within existing retail premises, and require customers to collect parcels using PIN codes, reducing the need for extended logistics operations, whilst pioneering net-zero initiatives. Micro DCs could quickly become the new network solution for 2021 and beyond.
OMS versus WMS A reliable warehouse management system (WMS) is an intrinsic piece of software for running day-to-day facility operations. Order Management Systems (OMS) however can manage beyond the scope of a WMS, including all processes concerned with orders and shipping. Fast and accurate fulfilment, now more than ever, is essential for successful B2B operations and building lasting consumer relationships. Omnichannel supply chains focused on combining online and offline channels for a smooth consumer experience require cleverly integrated channels. Combining a WMS and OMS would allow for these sophisticated systems to share information and to continuously track and improve operations, for suppliers and consumers alike. Having a WMS or OMS is mandatory yet combining the two will be essential to retain a winning competitive business in 2021 and beyond.
Technology versus Data In years past, Automation, Artificial intelligence, and Virtual Reality were buzzwords for new technological investments which promised future success. However, while technology is still essential for surviving, it seems that data is key to thriving in modern business operations.
Digitisation will continue to transform warehouses and distribution centres throughout 2021 and beyond. While smart warehouses can implement technology to facilitate faster pick speeds and packing times, it is the real-time data that is vital to ensuring integration with wider systems and will allow for businesses to continue to deliver greater competitive advantage. Key trends to adapt for 2021 onwards will include flexibility, predictive analytics, and seamless business continuity.
Bulk Inventory Stores versus Demand Forecasting Micro DCs occupy largely reduced SQ FT in comparison to traditional Distribution Centres. With limited space, comes limited storage for inventory. Therefore, demand forecasting in Micro DCs can quickly replace bulk inventory stocks, by allowing for inventory to be stored in multiple locations, in turn enabling more consistent warehouse optimisation.
Analysing products that sell quickly (FMCG) or at a slower pace (FMCD) as well different products’ seasonality sales peaks can also help to reduce storage costs. Whilst more frequently located Micro DCs, can facilitate a business’ ability to regularly meet their customer expectations due to reduced shipping costs and time. This data is crucial to all supply chain operations and can help better predict seasonality and plan inventory more accurately to reduce overhead costs.
Be successful in 2021 Experts in all aspects of warehouse and network design, SCN understands the importance of remaining competitive in a dynamic industry and the critical data analysis required to achieve this.
Specialists in Warehouse Design and Fit-Out, the SCN team can help you reach your facility’s potential. Visit www.scnuk.com to learn about the work that we do and to ensure you are ready and future-proof your business plans and warehouse design.
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