Warehouses and distribution centers around the world are coping with massive change and investment to stay competitive. Challenged by the demands of e-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment, smaller orders, ever-shrinking delivery timeframes, and a persistent labor shortage, operations are in perpetual need of tools that can help them tackle these and other ongoing productivity issues. Technology is the driving force in the warehouse and DC transformation. With automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies making their way into the world’s distribution facilities, the warehouse management system has become a vital component to manage the increased amount of information. And because it collects valuable information along the way, WMS also provides actionable data analytics that companies can use for good decision-making.
Let's take a look at some industry trends for 2019.
Software and Equipment Vendors Offer Creative Financing
In an effort to convince warehouse and DC managers to take the next leap in automation implementation, equipment suppliers are coming up with creative finance plans to make it easier to upgrade. One approach that more companies are adopting is that assets can be rented versus purchased or leased. In other instances, the WMS vendors which sell the systems that run the automated equipment are now working more closely with their end users to help make it more affordable for a wider swath of customers.
A Focus On a more User Friendly WMS Interface
Perhaps the biggest turn off to any computer program is a complicated user interface. Logistics managers don’t have the time to sift through reams of data to find what they’re looking for. Pertinent data needs to be a mouse click away. WMS vendors are focusing on their user interfaces and coming up with ways to present data in a more logical format to users. The focus is on making systems more engaging and easier to use, and particularly in a same-day-shipping environment, where a field service technician or retail clerk can use the system with little or no training.
More Improved Inventory Return System
In the online ordering world returns are a major line item in the profit and loss statement. Managing those returns more accurately will mitigate the return allowance figure in the financial statements. Returns management systems have made a sizable impact on the distribution environment, and are pushing technology vendors to add better precision management capabilities into their systems. Companies have to be able to manage precision, while more economically managing individual items. While WMS systems certainly help companies pick, pack, and stage, they are also inventory systems. As items get returned, shippers need to be able to return those goods to either inventory, vendor, wholesale or scrap to accurately determine their value.
These are just a few trends to watch for in 2019. Form more information on how technology can benefit your organization contact us today.