The Demand for Improved Warehouse Systems and Operations
Systems to manage inventory, receiving, and the pick-pack-ship processes for warehouses have been around for more than half a century. However, new issues continue to force improvements and enhancements in warehouse management technology:
|Competition drives innovation||There is always a constant need to perform better, faster, and cheaper than your competitors. This can mean excellent delivery services, superior fill rates, and/or a very lean cost structure for your warehouse operations.|
|New partnerships broaden options||From third party logistics (3PL) providers to fulfillment houses and other types of partnerships, businesses can expand their product offering without necessarily investing significantly in bricks and mortar.|
|Global logistics and sourcing add complexity||As businesses look overseas for new markets or new supplier sources, there is tremendous opportunity to increase market share or find new product offerings from global partnerships. However, it adds to the complexity of warehouse management.|
|Smarter customers force business improvements||Today’s customer is more tech-savvy and typically does a lot more research on products before making a purchase decision. They are eager to share their experiences—good and bad—about their transactions, customer service, orders, and returns.Businesses must not only be prepared to offer real time information on product specifications, inventory availability, and order status information across multiple channels; but must strive for flawless execution of orders, shipments and returns.|
While warehouse management software and systems can help businesses address these issues and drive innovation, business leaders should be aware of the following:
- The drive to be responsive can substantially increase fulfillment and distribution costs. You need to be able to manage and track all the costs involved in the fulfillment process, and have sufficient metrics to help you find opportunities to reduce expenses whenever possible.
- Managing and sourcing inventory across multiple warehouse locations and suppliers can become a significant burden without the technology to provide visibility into all inventories and processes, and the intelligence to route order and shipments to the appropriate warehouses.
- Providing real-time order and inventory status improves customer service levels, but requires connecting distributed systems and warehouses.
- Flexibility and agility are critical when it comes to warehouse management processes and technology. Your warehouse processes and technologies should leverage distribution best practices, but still allow for adaptation for specific business cases.
What’s needed is a comprehensive solution to help improve every aspect of your warehouse operations—one that centrally manages and optimizes resources across locations, and helps you quickly respond to change across your enterprise. That solution is the IBM® Sterling Warehouse Management System.
The IBM Sterling Warehouse Management System (WMS)
The IBM Sterling Warehouse Management system (Sterling WMS) is a complete planning, execution and monitoring solution for managing and optimizing your warehouse operations. It provides you real-time visibility and control over inventory, labor and warehouse processes across your network of storage facilities—including distribution centers, plant warehouses, stockrooms, flow-through centers, and returns locations.
In addition, it provides you accurate, up-to-date order and inventory information—and helps you respond faster to customer demand by enabling you to provide selected partners visibility into your inventory.
Highly configurable and flexible for your specific needs, the WMS solution can help you manage a single warehouse or provide centralized management of inventory, labor and processes across multiple facilities of varying types. Whether your warehouses are in Ohio or in India, the IBM Sterling WMS can provide the connectivity, visibility, and real-time information needed to run your business. Based on industry best practices, its sophisticated sourcing and inventory allocation algorithms enable your warehouse operations to run very efficiently while keeping operating costs low.
The implementation and support partner that you choose for your warehouse management software is almost as important as the software itself. Your implementation partner should have strong project management skills and technical skills, but also have real-world industry experience to further add value to your installation.
As an IBM Premier Partner with extensive supply chain and warehouse management experience, we provide a full range of professional services to optimize your implementation.