Smart Merchandising

Building Digital Supply Chains with Integrated Demand Planning

As the global economy becomes interconnected and complex, companies find it challenging to meet customer expectations. They must make supply chain decisions faster, decisive, and accurate, and have the ability to implement those decisions rapidly and transparently.

Integrated demand planning is necessary to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. It amalgamates the supply side and the demand side of a business to form a cohesive unit that is vital for meeting OTIF (On-Time-In-Full) for supply chain success. To achieve OTIF, a company must have end-to-end supply chain visibility and be able to balance demand and supply in real-time to make the right decisions quickly and effectively. It is important to improve customer satisfaction, optimize inventory levels and distribution networks, and achieve a faster time to market for sales maximization. 

Best Practices for Integrated Demand Planning:

Demand planning is a cross-functional approach that enables brands to meet customer demand while minimizing waste and quickly adapting to supply chain disruptions. Effective planning boosts profitability and consumer satisfaction. 

  • Implementing the Right Tech-Solution: In today’s complex and rapidly changing market, choosing robust tech solutions to organize data and estimate demand is crucial.
    When looking for a Merchandising or WMS solution, it is vital to analyze the tool’s capabilities in handling intricacies in demand fluctuations, supplier efficiency, and adaptability. Following are some critical elements to consider when choosing the right solution for your business:
    • Easy integration with existing ERPs
    • Ability to handle omnichannel, multi-region, and multi-product portfolio complexity
    • Demand sensing for better short-term forecasting by deep data analysis of daily demand fluctuations and trends
    • Enables end-to-end supply chain visibility
    • Ability to conduct performance monitoring based on real-time analytics and user-friendly dashboards
    • Ability to incorporate AI and machine learning to provide contextual intelligence
    • Integrating with Cloud Solutions
  • Business Intelligence & Data-Driven Decision-Making: Now more than ever, data drives demand planning. Digitized supply chains give real-time insights into inventory changes and market trends, and help identify key areas for optimization during demand planning. Traditional excel based analytical tools do not suffice anymore as big data analysis requires granular-level scientific decision-making that does not rely solely on instincts.  
  • Planning the Ideal Assortment Mix: Managing an ever-evolving portfolio of products by identifying top sellers among existing styles, seasonal styles, and emerging trends efficiently leads to the maximization of demand potential. An integrated demand plan helps understand how adding new products will affect the overall supply chain, and how the demand of one product affects the demand of another. Product portfolio planners are highly involved in scenario planning to ensure that each product line’s demand influence on the other products is positive and optimized. 
  • Optimal Allocation: Allocating and reallocating the right styles in the right locations as per changing customer demand is very essential for fast, accurate order fulfillment. Mapping style-size requirements at the Pincode level, using new-age merchandising solutions can help brands allocate the right stock in the right places at the beginning of the sales season itself. In-season demand fluctuations can be addressed by readjusting or shifting inventory (Inter-Store Transfers) from stores where the demand is low, to those where the demand is high. Such easy adaptability to changing market scenarios brings greater agility and flexibility in supply chains.
  • Autonomous Planning: In a fast-changing world, the ability of autonomous planning is to assist supply chains to function more effectively under pressure and with less direct human involvement and decision-making. Automated systems are designed to function within a framework in terms of what tasks they may execute, based on predetermined rules. An autonomous system, built on intelligent algorithms and the SaaS+ model, learns and adapts to changing market scenarios and evolves continuously. 
  • Easy System Integrations & User-friendly UX/UI: New-age merchandising and warehousing technology solutions are built to seamlessly integrate with the brand’s existing system and make the transition smooth. It prevents any loss of customer data or inventory mismanagement and leads to better inventory and order control. Simple UX/UI reduces training time and increases workforce efficiency and productivity by automating processes and eliminating errors due to human decision-making. 

The rise of the digital supply chain has presented new opportunities and challenges that can be addressed with advanced technology solutions. Integrated demand planning is the basis of digital supply chains for brands to cater to the fast-paced and constantly evolving customer demands. It has the power to increase efficiency, decrease lead times, and ultimately result in more satisfied customers, more efficient operations, and higher profits.

Warehouse Management

6 Critical Reasons to Outsource Your Warehousing Operations

When deciding whether to outsource warehousing and distribution, it is essential to consider if your business is experiencing rapid growth, struggling with inefficiencies, or spending too much money on warehousing and distribution. When faced with supply chain difficulties, you have a choice to make; you can keep trying to manage logistics internally or outsource your logistics to a warehousing and fulfillment partner. A warehousing provider can help you optimize your supply chain and improve business operations.

If you are unsure which option is best suited for your company, look for indications that might help you decide. The following are the most critical indicators that it may be the right time to outsource your logistics to a warehousing specialist:

  1. Need to scale your business faster

When a company proliferates, it often does not have the time or resources to manage its logistics. Outsourcing warehousing and distribution to a third-party provider can help businesses scale more quickly and efficiently. A warehousing partner can help you manage your inventory, shipping, and delivery processes, allowing you to focus on expanding your core business. The management need not worry about hiring and training new staff, high seasonal demand, quick order fulfillment, and so on. This gives managers the bandwidth required to take up more critical tasks that can help scale businesses faster by better allocating resources.

  1. Struggling with inefficiencies in your supply chain

If you are experiencing:

  1. Slower order fulfillment time leading to higher customer cancelations and lower sales 
  2. Mismanagement or loss of inventory inside the warehouse
  3. Inability to capture 100% orders from multiple sales channels
  4. Higher dependency on manpower within the warehouse and across the supply chain
  5. Delays and inaccuracies in order processing due to human decision-making errors

Outsourcing warehousing and distribution may be a good solution. A warehousing provider can help you optimize your supply chain and improve delivery time. Businesses need a WMS to report order statuses in real-time to succeed with omnichannel fulfillment. With advanced tech features provided by the service provider, retailers have greater flexibility in decision-making. Also, your company may choose which site, and how much space is best suited to fulfill a consumer order in the fastest time frame.

  1. Experiencing high costs associated with warehousing and distribution

If you spend a lot of money on warehousing and distribution, it may be time to outsource these operations to a warehousing partner. You can save money on labor, real estate, and other expenses by outsourcing. One of the biggest expenses associated with operating an internal warehouse is the capital investment required to set it up. By outsourcing this function, you can switch from a CapEx to an OpEx model, thereby freeing up locked cash flow. There will also be a significant cost reduction in updating the rapidly changing technology, warehouse management software (WMS), in the retail space.

Specialized warehousing partners focus on improving their services by updating to the latest technology. The cost reduction here is not just in terms of adopting new technology but also the efforts that will be spent on training the staff. One of the other advantages of outsourcing warehousing operations is the reduction in shipping costs. By working with a warehouse partner that has widespread centers, across the country, the shipping cost incurred to deliver the products to customers or other locations can be reduced. 

  1. Declining Customer Satisfaction

Late deliveries, mistakes and inaccuracies in order processing, and damaged products are all reasons for customer dissatisfaction. It is a priority to take action before your company’s reputation is harmed. This procedure begins by identifying supply chain problems and implementing modifications to your systems to address them. A more accessible and practical option is outsourcing your order fulfillment and shipments. With a warehousing partner handling these aspects of your company, you may observe how digitization, industrial kitting, and stringent quality control methods can improve consumer happiness. 

  1. Addressing fluctuating demand patterns

A demand surge is generally the consequence of many consumers rushing to buy supplies or goods simultaneously. Natural calamities, cultural events, such as the recent COVID-19 epidemic, and spontaneous changes in demand may result in supply chain disruptions and fluctuations in the market. By expanding or contracting warehouse operations as needed, a warehousing partner can assist businesses in attaining the desired scalability. These fluctuations often make it challenging to manage warehousing operations in-house resulting in loss of sales to more easily available competitor products. 

  1. Handling messy reverse logistics

A tried-and-true reverse logistics procedure is an excellent method to speed up return pick-up and processing, to minimize time and costs associated with returns management. With retail going omnichannel, it is essential to streamline returns processing for better sales. Distributed warehousing, and making return pick-ups geographically streamlined, by returning to the closest warehouse, will enable rapid re-commerce for the next purchase.

While the precise omnichannel order fulfillment strategy will vary from firm to firm, one thing is sure: companies are aware they must aggressively embrace Omnichannel selling and fulfill those purchases as quickly as possible. It is, therefore, a priority to understand the current stage of your company’s warehouse management system wms and order fulfillment process to decide if it may be time already to outsource your fulfillment solutions.

Warehouse Management

How Brands Can Benefit From Outsourcing Warehouse Operations

Traditional warehousing may not cut it anymore to meet customer expectations of speedy order fulfilment. To support multi-channel sales – warehouse space, capacity, and operations should be optimised and aligned with the consumer demand. The main goal behind warehouse operations is to effectively store and distribute the product you sell at the shortest lead time and minimal cost. 

In the fast-paced digital age, one of the most crucial decisions businesses must make is the decision of warehousing. Retail brands may not always be experts in warehousing logistics, and companies must seek domain expertise to make operations more efficient and customer-centric. 

Here is a list of benefits that companies can derive by outsourcing warehousing and fulfilment solutions to a Warehousing provider

  1. Enhanced focus on core business operations: Warehousing is not the core business for any brand but a requirement. The case for outsourcing ‘non-core’ business operations is vital, especially if those operations are not direct revenue earners. Brands can focus on their areas of expertise and outsource warehouse operations to a company that specialises in them. This will free up time and resources for the business, which can be used for strategising and expanding the core business. 
  2. Multi-location presence: Many businesses have several warehouses to assist them to be successful in the competitive retail market. A competent outsourced order fulfilment service may help you determine your company’s best fulfilment centre locations based on your customer demographics.
  3. Domain Expertise: When your company contracts with a suitable outsourcing partner, excellent service backed by a comprehensive agreement are provided by people who are experts in the domain. A 3PL service provider has expertise and experience in transport documentation, import and export, worldwide compliance, and economic rules. Businesses considering expanding into foreign markets can benefit from the logistics assistance and knowledge that the outsourced partner can provide, reducing costly delays and cycle time and making entering a new area simpler.
  4. Reduced Costs: Warehousing and fulfilment are resource-intensive activities. By outsourcing warehousing to a third-party logistics provider, retailers can negotiate better warehouse space, labour, and transportation rates. This is because the 3PL already has the necessary infrastructure and can offer more significant economies of scale – infrastructure, operations or maintenance. Outsourcing warehousing operations can help you cut costs on employing warehouse staff, technology, infrastructure, security, insurance, etc.  
  5. Reduced CAPEX: With no in-house warehouses, your company is free from the associated property leases, warehouse workforce and equipment costs. Setting up a dedicated warehouse space and fulfilment centre requires substantial capital investments. The need for capital only increases as the sales volumes grow, tying up a lot of cash flow. Outsourcing warehouse and fulfilment solutions free up cash, allowing for better resource allocation.
  1. Trained Workforce: Training is essential. Strategic and competitive advantage can be gained by a skilled, well-trained, well-motivated supply chain team that is enthusiastic and confident. You will need an appropriately trained and motivated workforce to run a successful logistics operation. Warehouse outsourcing provides the necessary workforce trained in the latest operating methods. 
  2. Latest in Technology: When outsourcing warehouse operations, technology maintenance and upgrades are automatic, including costs in the negotiated contracted price. A warehouse fulfilment centre has complex processes – from material handling and storage to order picking-packing and shipping. It requires the latest warehouse technology, systems, and software to run smoothly. Also, warehouse processes are constantly evolving with the latest trends in fulfilment. A warehouse partner that is up-to-date on the latest warehouse technology and practices can bring immense value to your business.
  3. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Outsourcing your warehousing ensures that your business is partnering with professionals with a proven track record for success. A 3PL can help improve warehouse efficiency by streamlining processes and implementing best practices. This leads to increased order throughput and decreased order cycle times, which improves customer satisfaction. In addition, a 3PL is constantly innovating and implementing new technologies and solutions to improve warehouse efficiency. This helps businesses stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge.
  4. Easy Scalability: A 3PL can provide the necessary warehouse space and capacity to accommodate any business growth. In addition, a 3PL can quickly ramp up operations to meet seasonal demand or unexpected surges in demand. A 3PL can help companies achieve the desired scalability by expanding or contracting warehouse operations as needed. This allows companies to grow at an exponential rate without worrying about additional warehouse infrastructure and staff.
  5. Better Returns Management: 3PLs have experience managing both incoming and outgoing shipments. This knowledge allows logistics firms to handle almost any returns inexpensively without investing in technology or training. A well-managed return process is beneficial to your brand since it enhances brand loyalty and reflects positively.

Retail brands must seriously consider letting domain experts manage logistical aspects of the business. The right synergies with warehousing partners are more cost-effective and make for a streamlined order fulfilment process. The 3PL will take care of all the logistics for you, allowing you to focus on your core business activities.