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Vision 2025 - The Future for WMS Cloud Solutions

Posted: April 29, 2020 by Ly Phan

Vision 2025 - The Future for WMS Cloud Solutions

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to look beyond the next few weeks. However, one day this will be behind us, and businesses have the responsibility to keep one eye on the future. Additionally, supply chains have had to innovate and rise to the challenges posed by the global crisis. In the long-term, this will mean WMS cloud solutions will become more advanced and capable in order to adapt and support warehouse operations.

A recurring theme for supply chains during the pandemic has been transparency and availability of stock. Countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have struggled to increase their testing capabilities due to a shortage of materials. After several weeks of delays, manufacturers are now rising to the task, and critical supplies are starting to get through.

The example above illustrates the importance of stock control and availability. Customers and trading partners need to be able to access this information in real-time, to address any shortfalls or bottlenecks. By turning to cloud-based solutions, businesses will be able to easily provide easily accessible data and enable supply chains to run smoothly and efficiently.

 

Cloud-Based WMS

Up to the mid-2000s, warehouses had two options in terms of inventory management: A paper-based system or sophisticated, expensive software that needed to be hosted on-site. For many SMEs, the second option was out of reach in terms of affordability and a paper-based system, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

By 2005, a new solution began to emerge in the form of cloud-based warehouse management software. SmartTurn was among the early adopters of cloud technology, which offered affordable and flexible packages that can be accessed directly using an internet connection, forsaking the need for expensive, on-premise hardware.

One of the core advantages of WMS cloud solutions is that it can integrate with multiple external systems and be customized to the needs and processes of your business. Together with the reduced price tag when compared to traditional enterprise systems, the cloud is an appealing alternative for SMEs.

Since SmartTurn began its journey in 2004, businesses have increasingly incorporated cloud technology into their processes. For warehouse management, cloud-based solutions have been a driver for much of WMS market growth in the past decade.

 

Looking to 2025

The next five years will see some drastic changes to global supply chains, much of it triggered by the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. However. It’s important to understand that many of these trends were already occurring and have been accelerated. For instance, the need for diverse sources of goods and items has long been identified in the industry, but it’s an issue that has an added urgency amidst the pandemic.

As with any forecast, there are other variables. As recently as January, no-one could have reasonably predicted the scale of global disruption caused by the pandemic. Yet, we can still identify some key trends, which we will set out here:

 

1) Omnichannel Retail

Omnichannel has become a buzzword in the world of retail. In short, it means orders can come through on multiple channels, whether it’s e-commerce, mobile applications, or in-store purchases. This kind of retail business has grown exponentially over the past decade, as technology continues to evolve. In 2019, for example, 28% of all online retail sales came through on mobile devices. 

It is the job of distribution and fulfillment centers to process those orders and efficiently handle them. Using a cloud-based WMS, businesses will be able to ensure each of these orders flow to a central point, where teams and managers can then process and fulfill.

By managing the flow of information, managers will be able to take advantage of real-time visibility from their remote devices to access the relevant details quickly. The advantage of having this information to hand helps in several ways:

  1. Delivery: For companies with multiple warehouses, selecting the right one to fulfill the order helps to get the items to the customer as quickly as possible. The delivery teams will also be able to use the software to organize shipping routes for maximum efficiency - thereby reducing fuel costs and increasing customer satisfaction.
  2. Accuracy: Using a cloud-based system enables workers to achieve up to 99%+ inventory accuracy, which is beyond the reach of traditional WMS systems. Utilizing this accuracy, warehouses will be able to serve the demands of ecommerce fulfillment with ease.
  3. Inventory Control: An essential component of a successful distribution or fulfillment center is to retain cloud-based inventory control. This involves ensuring an optimum level of stock for each product and limiting loss and damage. SmartTurn’s solution can give automated alerts to workers when stock levels dip below a set point, triggering a replenishment process. 

With online shopping skyrocketing during the pandemic, it is expected that many of the gains ecommerce stores have made will be sustained in the long-term. As a result, demand for distribution and fulfillment centers will be ahead of forecasts that were made last year, presenting an opportunity for cloud WMS market growth.

To take advantage of the increased demands on ecommerce in the next five years, cloud-based WMS can be used to help warehouses scale up operations sustainably and increase productivity. 

 

2) Diversified Supply Chains

One of the trends the Covid-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate is the movement towards diversified supply chains. Over the past two decades, even the smallest businesses have become global operations, with supplies coming in from all over the world. While this has spawned new opportunities and markets, it has also created new challenges.

The on-going trade war between China and the United States has been one such challenge businesses have had to deal with. The increase in duties made it more expensive for US companies to import goods from China and vice versa, leading businesses searching for new sources of inventory. This process has been further pushed along by the pandemic.

As a result, companies are now starting to value diversified sources of inventory - often with a mix of domestic and international suppliers. This trend will only continue to grow in the next five years. Cloud WMS can support businesses with multiple vendors from a range of locations - funneling the different supply channels into one, easy to follow platform. 

 

3) Integration

A key selling point of cloud WMS is its ability to integrate with other systems, including ERP, accounting, and logistics. As warehouses increasingly adopt technology to automate different processes, it’s essential for software to interact.

This exchange of information enables teams to communicate and work together effectively. For example, the accounting department will be able to see when products have been shipped to the right addresses and follow up on payments. The purchasing team can use the WMS to check inventory levels and order new stock as required. In short, the free flow of information encourages a smooth and slick operation, with automation at its heart.

Additionally, SmartTurn’s solution can integrate with scanning technology, which can further support the pathway toward automation. Using barcode or RFID tags, workers can utilize remote devices and get the information they need in the palm of their hands instantly. In reducing the time it takes to locate, check, and move items, businesses can shave off hours of labor time each day. 

Through the next five years, technology will innovate and evolve, bringing new solutions for different business processes. This underlines the importance of the ability of WMS to integrate with third-party software and platforms. By 2025, integration capabilities will be scaled up to ensure cloud WMS can continue to play its central role in warehouse operations. 

 

Cloud WMS Integral to Global Supply Chains

As we move into the new decade, it’s clear that cloud WMS will be a central component of global supply chains. Similarly to crises in the past, the pandemic has forced companies and people to innovate and change their behavior. The advance of online retail sales is a case in point. 

The reality is that the world is changing, and businesses need to ensure their supply chains are robust and flexible enough to meet future challenges. 

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Vision 2025 - The Future for WMS Cloud Solutions

Vision 2025 - The Future for WMS Cloud Solutions

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