Efficient warehousing is a crucial activity in the supply chain. It has become a source of competitive advantage for brands to outperform their competition in costs, lead time, and customer service. With so many WMS solutions available in the market, Gartner’s report on Critical Capabilities for Warehouse Management Systems is a helpful guide for businesses to determine their best-suited tech-solution.
In the age of A-commerce (Automated Commerce), where all warehousing processes leverage automation and new technologies from start to finish, businesses need to switch to web-based WMS solutions that lower ownership costs are easy to use and quick to deploy. Supply chain digital transformation builds greater agility and resilience in business structure and strengthens growth strategy for now and the future.
Increff ASSURE, recognised in this report, has nine notable capabilities (five core capabilities and four are additional capabilities), that make it an important new age WMS solution.
ASSURE’s nine notable capabilities are:
- Cycle counting
- Inventory management
- Responsive UI
- Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain
- Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience
- Multi-site Deployment
While building efficiencies independently within each core capability is extremely essential, ASSURE ties all activities together building a secure, flawless flow through the entire process.
This stage involves inward processing where a Unique Piece Barcode (UPB) is assigned to each product. The barcode captures all key details like MRP, style, color, size, SKU image, etc. of the product along with a complete audit trail of operations with timestamps. It allows scan based GRN, showing the product image and description for quality check (QC).
ASSURE’s stringent in-built QC matrix includes a comprehensive list of failure reasons covering all business requirements. If a product is found defective or unsellable, the reason is selected from the drop-down list and its UPB is marked as QC failed. Digitally bifurcated unsellable inventory, with in-depth QC failure reasons, helps in taking quick necessary actions. This product-defect mapping is linked to the seller and can help in streamlining future buying decisions.
- Cycle counting
ASSURE allows cycle counting to be done without blocking any inventory or affecting the exposure of the inventory, hence regular operations can be run simultaneously. It identifies discrepancies in the physical scan and system count as we go, making sure that it is addressed immediately without having to wait for a periodic cycle count activity. In case a certain item is marked as ‘Not Found’ during regular picking operations, the updated inventory is synced on all channels including the marketplaces within 30 seconds. These real-time inventory adjustments and live updates can be done without hindering day to day operations.
- Inventory Management
Location tracking and assigning perfect pick paths for efficient picking is another notable feature of ASSURE that is achieved through UPB scanning. Separate pick paths can be assigned for smaller and larger products. Picklists are generated using the FIFO inventory method, considering the oldest SKU first to reduce the aging inventory. It also has the ability to prioritize or release picklists according to SLA or channel priority, e.g. Express & Prime orders which have to be fulfilled within 2 hours of order receipt, or multiple marketplaces that have separate cut off and pick up timings, are addressed accordingly. A single view of inventory across all channels and 99.9% bin level accuracy exceeds RFID tagging in bringing accuracy and building proficiency. Proper inventory management in the warehouse allows capturing the true cost of the inventory with accurate aging.
Is a fully automated scan-based process, free of pen and paper, allowing first-time right pick. Using the UPB tracking method, ASSURE creates an optimized linear forward-going pick path that facilitates systematic sequential picking. It ensures that a picker exits an aisle only when all the items from the picklist have been picked. Through real-time checks, the system has the ability to throw an error and an audio alert to warn the picker if a wrong product is scanned. The picker cannot move forward until the right product is picked up or an item is marked as ‘Not Found’. In case a piece is not found in the assigned bin, a recommendation system is set to direct the picker to the next best location. An order is closed only when all the pieces have been scanned and picked.
ASSURE has a single screen for each marketplace to view the packing status in real-time. Automated prompts for packing are generated if a product packing requires any customizations, e.g. use of corrugated material for plastic ban states, or gift label print if an order is for gifting. The system provides options to print the shipping labels in different custom formats. If an order is canceled before/during packing then it is sent back to the inventory and made live for sale again, immediately.
6. Responsive UI
UI is designed for the end-operator who is used to the touchscreen on mobile devices. It is fully automated and scan-based, to avoid the use of a mouse or keyboard and eliminate chances of lapses due to human decision-making, and can run on any device; tablet, laptop, smartphone, HHTs. Normally, the operation of GRN/ return processing has a maximum number of steps, but with ASSURE it can be covered in just 4 scans. On scanning, the cursor automatically moves to the next field freezing the previous one and ensures that the operator does not skip a step. If the operator scans any barcode other than the one expected, then a pop-up error stops him from moving further.
7. Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain
Considering the fluidity of the workforce where attrition is typically 15-20% in a warehouse, Increff ASSURE’s user-friendly interface design guarantees quick learning and easy implementation without supervision. In scenarios like the present where a large number of blue-collar workers moved out of big cities to villages, there is an acute shortage of skilled labour in big warehouses. These warehouses have to operate with a lot of temporary unskilled, less-educated workers to deliver efficient and proficient output. In such situations having easy-to-learn systems saves time that goes into training and in turn increases the productivity of the labour force.
8. Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience
Reduced training time relates to a lot of dollars saved. Typical manpower required to operate the ASSURE interface needs the bare minimum educational qualification to read simple text. The training time is less than 5 mins so you can go-live faster and reduce manpower cost by 20-25%.
If there are multiple options available on the screen it can confuse the operator and reduce productivity. A google-like extremely simple UI, with limited options, allows a majority of the decision-making to be done by the system itself. Also, each screen has a video tutorial of 3- 5 mins embedded on the UI to train the new operator. With strict rules set by all marketplaces and different kinds of processes for each operation, it is best if the decision-making is left up to the WMS system. This helps in the easy scale-up of operations and maximum productivity from day one.
9. Multi-site Deployment
Increff ASSURE is capable of handling multi-warehousing. The creation of an environment for a seller takes a maximum of 48 hrs. Our Cloud warehousing service is based on CAPEX free model that gives the flexibility of scaling up and scaling down as per business needs. It enables sellers to easily build up inventory in different regions and optimize low-cost order fulfillment from a local warehouse, reducing logistics costs significantly. Multi-location cloud warehousing improves supply chain resilience and reduces the risk of failures.
For one of the top ethnic wear brands in India, within 15 days of launch, ASSURE GRNed approx 5 lakh pieces across 2 warehouses during peak sales. It dispatched ~170K pieces within 3 days, achieving 99.9%+ SLA and only 48 orders (0.03%) were canceled due to the item not found or excess orders. Powered by ASSURE, the brand has now fAssure and Amazon Prime quality badge for 100% fulfillment accuracy.
Every business needs to evolve and strengthen overtime to cope with the challenges of the changing market. This is the time for digital transformation and quick results. The real challenge is to choose the right system that can help you scale business operations immediately. The New-age WMS needs to be flexible and adaptable to the changing business landscape. Now is not the time to wait, but to act. Get ASSUREd!
16 December, 2020
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