This is Part 3 of a five-part series for midmarket distributors looking to bring their warehouses into the 21st century. If you haven’t already, we recommend you start with Part 1.
WAREHOUSE TECHNOLOGIES AND CONSIDERATIONS
Managing inventory and warehouse operations is easy when you are small. Warehouse management becomes more difficult as distributors grow, adding more locations, large facilities, and larger product lines.
Growing distributors and those using entry-level accounting or legacy distribution ERP systems must modernize warehouse operations to remain competitive. This often warrants a replacement of the business system or the acquisition of expensive warehouse management software.
This series of articles provides wholesale distributors with an overview of warehouse management features and technologies. It includes a self-assessment to determine what steps to take next. It also provides WMS strategies and a process for executing WMS implementations to modernize warehouse and distribution center operations.
5 STEPS TO A MODERN WAREHOUSE
The first step to problem solution is problem recognition—so let’s take a closer look at what you’re already doing, to see where you can modernize, and where you’re already ahead of the game.
DETAILED WAREHOUSE ASSESSMENT
Wholesale distributors should conduct a detailed assessment. The detailed assessment identifies required business needs and application features. Below is a list of common feature requirements. Document what features you already have, which ones you do not need, and which ones you expect to need in the future.
Do you want to deploy the application on the cloud or on-premises? Do you prefer perpetual or subscription pricing?
Make sure to evaluate integration tools, security, and configurable workflows. Look for ABC codes to prioritize slot locations and configurable units of measure definitions and conversions.
Make sure your inventory system supports multiple locations (warehouse, aisle, row, rack, shelf, and bin). Review physical inventory processes. Look for advanced features such as first-expired-first-out picking, lot and serial tracking, matrix items, and automated replenishment.
Most WMS applications provide order management capabilities. However, few companies use the WMS for orders. Instead, they create and manage sales orders in their ERP system. They may also import or connect the ERP system with external sources such as commerce or electronic data interchange. Make sure your systems support backorders and item substitutions, inventory allocations, and drop-shipments by line item. Also review sales commissions, pricing and promotions, and electronic data interchange (EDI).
Automation is crucial for distributors to capture data quickly and accurately. ERP and WMS technologies expedite data entry using technologies such as barcoding, RFID, and more. Look for systems with simple integration tools to connect to warehouse carousels, conveyor systems, scales, and other automation technologies.
Every distributor manages inventory transactions. Carefully review all transactions and business processes including vendor receipt of goods, vendor and customer returns, and directed put-away. Consider inventory movement, warehouse transfers, and kitting and disassembly requirements. Do you need expiration dates with first-expired-first-out picking? Do you use advanced wave, batch, or zone picking? Also, look for shipping integration for small parcel or LTL/TL carriers.
COMPLIANCE AND REPORTING
Timely and accurate information is crucial for warehouse management. Reporting for quality and compliance is essential for regulated products such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, chemicals, and food. Carefully evaluate business intelligence, dashboards, reporting, and inquiry features.
WHAT ACUMATICA CAN DO FOR YOU
Acumatica Cloud ERP provides the best business management solution for digitally resilient companies. Built for mobile and telework scenarios and easily integrated with the collaboration tools of your choice, Acumatica delivers flexibility, efficiency, and continuity of operations to growing small and midmarket organizations.
MODERN WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT WITH ACUMATICA DISTRIBUTION EDITION
A modern warehouse is crucial for wholesale distributors to thrive in today’s digital economy. Entry-level business applications and legacy ERP software pose barriers to modernization projects forcing many distributors to invest in costly customizations or complex and expensive warehouse management systems.
Distributors need to understand inventory and warehouse technologies so they can improve and automate business processes. They must understand how to utilize ERP and WMS features effectively for inventory management, order processing, inventory transactions, warehouse automation, and compliance and reporting.
A disciplined strategy is critical to the success of warehouse modernization projects. The strategy establishes a solid foundation, provides research, and defines priorities for the modernization plan. A four-phased execution approach ensures that distributors are prepared for implementations with continuous review and process improvement.
Acumatica Distribution Edition provides a modern platform for wholesalers to modernize warehouse operations with tools to manage projects, support cases, and installations or upgrades. Through leading-edge cloud technology, Acumatica Distribution Edition delivers unparalleled value to small and midmarket distributors. Integrated workflows span the full suite of business management applications with native warehouse management and barcoding features.