When complexity from eCommerce introduces order profiles that strain your supply chain operations, what do you do to turn the challenge into opportunity? eCommerce is changing everything. When it comes to order management, shifts in order profiles are changing the way we look at the warehouse and rendering a lot of traditional fulfillment methodologies out of date. Juggling direct store delivery (DSD), case fulfillment shipments, high volumes of single item orders, direct-to-consumer, and direct-to-distribution-center are just a few reasons why many businesses need to rethink their operational and infrastructural strategies.
To keep up with distributed order management (DOM) and eCommerce in general, supply chain technologies need to step. The key here is system flexibility.
Two Truths for eCommerce Order Fulfillment and Your Warehouse Management Strategy
So, eCommerce changed the game. Now what? For many, this calls for new workflows, processes, technologies, and supply chain management strategies. The answer is different for every business. But, there are two key takeaways that will be common across most warehouses:
- Adding warehouse workers is not the answer
- Flexibility in your warehouse management systems is critical
Watch this video for our thoughts on distribution order management and solving your supply chain eCommerce obstacles.
Hiring, retention and labor shortage issues aside, throwing people at the problem could bring more issues to eCommerce fulfillment. Aisle congestion, for example, could reduce productivity. It might be a short-term answer in a pinch. But, flexible supply chain systems is the long-term strategy that allows businesses to pivot today and prepare for tomorrow.
After all, do you really know what customer expectations will be in three to five years? By then we could be receiving all our goods by drone. That’s an exaggeration, but you get the point: flexibility allows you to continually tweak, improve, reconfigure and overhaul as needed based on the immediate and future needs. Today, that could be adding or replacing workflows for a pick-to-light system or an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). Tomorrow, it could be new processes for drone fulfillment.
Okay, we'll get off drones now. (But they are pretty cool, right?)
Thinking Through Warehouse Management Strategies for DOM
There are many technology-based solutions for omnichannel order profiles. However, technology isn’t the only factor to consider when solving distributed order management for an increasingly omnichannel world. You may need to think about everything in your warehouse plans from packing stations to put walls to order clustering, and more.
Yes, this is a major mind shift and an even bigger investment. It may need to come in phases (again, flexibility is critical here). However, the businesses planning for and solving these challenges are opening themselves up to new opportunities for growth and winning share in their respective markets.