Warehouse Management Systems are making warehousing and distribution more important to small and large businesses alike
Modern Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are allowing manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers to shift more of their fulfilment functions to their warehousing partners. The global demand for WMS solutions grew by some 8% over the last year, reflecting a trend where more warehousing facilities take on responsibility for more of their client’s supply chain functions in a bid to reduce the costs of doing business.
The new buzz word seems to be ‘omni-channel distribution’, but this isn’t much different from ‘multi-channel’. It just sounds more impressive. The core of the shift is still large brick and mortar retailers doing a high portion of their business online, and relying on their warehousing partners to integrate this kind of distribution with their traditional shelf-stocking.
So what changes are the big retailers making, and how can smaller retailers get in on the action?
35% of the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers polled in a recent study plan to expand their in-house warehousing and distribution facilities. Fully 66% of them will be increasing automation in their processes to a greater or lesser extent.
Big brick-and-mortar multichannel retailers are moving to cut their overheads, and stay competitive with fully e-commerce retailers, while keeping the advantages of maintaining a physical store. They are increasingly smoothing out supply chain kinks by combining brick and mortar and online sales volumes through the same distribution systems.
Smaller retailers can stay competitive by seeking warehousing and distribution partners who are capable of taking on more supply chain responsibility. The same modern warehouse management systems that are cutting costs for the big players can improve the margins of many small operations working with the same logistics company. The economy of scale, it seems, can be distributed – if you have the right partners.