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Multi-Site WMS: What Are the Warehouse Management Technology Considerations for Multiple Retail DCs?

Order fulfillment has taken on a new definition with the rise of omnichannel shopping. Today, consumers expect to have multiple options when making purchases, and they want their orders now. While this may not seem possible, it does bring up the concept of multiple retail distribution centers (DCs). As a result, having a multi-site WMS is critical to ensuring company-wide collaboration and fulfillment in the shortest time possible. But, there are a few multi-site warehouse management system (WMS) considerations you need to think about.

Retail Customers Represent a Major Marketshare of Multi-Site DCs

Retail customers, meaning retailers buying products from larger sellers for resale, represent a major market share of multi-site distribution centers (DCs). As explained by Manhattan Associates, retail customers can be some of the biggest customers a company has when using multi-site WMS and DCs. But, retail shipping and multi-site WMS also has other advantages, like opening the door to drop-shipping options, moving products directly from the DC to an end-user’s home.

Rare, Expensive or Large Products May Be Difficult to Store at Multiple DCs

Multi-site WMS and DCs may also be problematic when stocking rare, expensive or bulky products. Furniture, technology and rare items have an inherently higher risk to the DC, so stocking these items in multi-site DCs may prove expensive and difficult.

Workforce and Labor Changes Will Impact the Industry

The workforce is also changing. There is a personnel shortage, and more workers are aging into retirement than ever before. So, multi-site WMS solutions will need to consider these challenges in creating an efficient, manageable workload for remaining workers. In other words, picking practices, as explained by ICEPTS, will also need to be addressed in multi-site WMS and DCs, including wave picking, batch picking, product picking, order streaming and more.

Peak Seasons and Periods, Including Holidays, Are Growing

Peaks in supply chains are no longer limited to the holiday rush. Today’s DCs face an increasing number of peak periods throughout the year, and multi-site DCs must be able to handle switch increases in order volume.

Traditional OMS and ERP Systems May Lack Multi-Site WMS Deployment

Another factor to consider is existing, legacy systems may lack the ability to integrate with new, multi-site WMS systems. This is where a third-party integrator (3PI) can boost integrability with APIs, EDIs and integration-based systems.

Replenishment Gets More Complicated in Multi-Site DCs

Multi-site DCs and WMS also experience a greater flow of products during replenishment cycles. This means more vendors and more product flowing in and out of the facility, increasing risks. So, the WMS must also manage products’ shelf-life, information, and data associated with each product.

Slotting Varies by Region Too, Not Just Demand Changes

Slotting in multi-site DCs will have additional factors to consider during slotting and reslotting. In addition to standard reslotting practices, based on demand, each location will need to consider how its physical location in relation to other DCs will impact slotting practices, explains F. Curtis Barry & Company.

Never Grow Too Fast, But Be Ready for the Possibility

Modern distribution centers can exist across single-site and multi-site facilities, designed to meet the demands of individual companies and large-scale enterprises. Take these factors into consideration when thinking about upgrading your DC strategy to include multi-site DCs, and do not try to scale up your business too quickly. This will help protect against risk and ensure you make sustainable decisions about your DC selection.