Intelligent Fulfillment

5 Best Practices for Intelligent Fulfillment and Its Benefits

Supply chains are changing in response to the growth of e-commerce and the demand for omnichannel customer experiences. Companies across the globe are looking for ways to stay competitive, including using a modern day warehouse management system, to achieve intelligent fulfillment. However, implementing a new WMS is not enough to succeed. Supply chain leaders should follow these five best practices to develop a well-rounded approach to intelligent fulfillment.

1. Maximize Potential Through Automation

The application of automation in the warehouse is essential to meeting the demands of omnichannel and staying competitive with Amazon and Walmart. As explained by Paul F. Magel of Total Retail, automation allows retailers to create detailed forecasts for demand and act upon those forecasts. This may be as simple as shifting inventory closer to the market, using stores-as-a-distribution center, and connecting with consumers.

The benefits of automation include reduced labor costs and better planning. Of course, automation itself can be automated through artificial intelligence, using computerized systems to control and manage all operations. Even in these scenarios, it is essential to have someone understand how systems function.

2. Get the Right Talent

Intelligent fulfillment means using technology, but the best technology solutions in the world lack value if not applied correctly. The people using technology influence its efficiency and capability. Robots can help, but they still need direction. This principle applies throughout the entire supply chain, affecting manufacturers, warehouses, and reverse logistics. Having the right talent in place ensures systems function as expected and derive greater value for your company.

The benefit of talent includes understanding how to use systems, manage their controls, and bring harmony to the supply chain. In a sense, people form a crucial link in the successful supply chain. The remainder of the chain lies in integration between systems and people.

3. Integrate Everything

Integration refers to the processes of leveraging systems as a collective to derive higher value in your company. Unfortunately, disconnected systems lead to demand volatility, poor visibility, increased supply chain risk, and stagnant growth, notes Supply Chain 24/7. In fact, the Forrester Wave Report highlighted the strengths of companies in today’s supply chains, and a common thread is integration between systems. As companies move toward strategic services, the push to offer integration with all pre-existing systems will be crucial to success.

The benefits of integration include oversight over all operations. Connected systems mean connected data, perfect for leveraging analytics and big data to derive actionable insights.

4. Use Analytics to Understand Your Data

Data in its raw form is meaningless. It’s all numbers. Having access to data through integration is only part of the equation; delving into data with analytics is the other variable. Analytics can be used to understand why something is happening (descriptive analytics), what may happen (predictive analytics), and what must happen to achieve optimum results (prescriptive analytics). Since the order management system (OMS) matches supply and demand resourcefully, says Eric Lamphier via Multichannel Merchant, analytics will have a substantial impact on cycle times, labor management, and logistics in intelligent fulfillment. The benefits of analytics will naturally reduce costs, increase visibility, reduce your workload, and help your company grow.

5. Know What and When to Evolve

This is the most confusing best practice for intelligent fulfillment. Modern, cloud-based systems can be modified to meet strict warehouse and supply chain needs. However, the ability to modify does not necessarily mean you should. Modifications add to the perpetual cost of maintaining supply chain systems, and the practices or processes in place today that would require modification of new systems may not necessarily be the best for your industry. As retail evolves, supply chains will need to rethink their strategies and develop intelligent fulfillment practices. Since the risk is present, avoid modifications to systems. If modifications are necessary, develop a strong business case for them. Identify every situation where the modification may help or be unnecessary. If you cannot justify it easily, it is superfluous.

Get Your Organization on the Path Toward Intelligent Fulfillment

Old ways of handling fulfillment are dead. They are ineffective and costly in today’s supply chains. It’s time to implement intelligent fulfillment practices in your organization. Find out what you need to do to get started by choosing Veridian as your partner. Contact the supply chain system experts by going to our contact page for any questions you might have around intelligent fulfillment.