As our global economy digitizes it is important that businesses continue to digitally transform themselves. This is equally important for warehouse operations as factors such as the growth of e-commerce and the continued interconnectivity of supply chains. As digitization increasingly changes the way people purchase and interact with a business', warehouses must follow suit as they hold an important role in the business to customer relationship. If warehouse operations are inefficient the negative impact on the relationship can directly affect the business.
What then are some goals of digital transformation for warehouse operations and how can these be achieved?
First lets define what exactly digital transformation entails. Often times buzz words or concepts tend to get thrown out into our business lexicon without any real thought to what they actually mean. By understanding what digital transformation is, we can have a clearer idea of what we’re actually trying to achieve. In not so many words, digital transformation is the improvement of business processes, services, and products through the use and implementation of technology. The aim is to increase efficiency, save time, improve communication and collaboration, generate data driven insights, improve accuracy, and generate growth, all while reducing overall costs.
Now that we have a basic understanding of digital transformation what does this mean for warehouse operations from a practical sense? We can use the above definition to help us clearly define these goals.
Here are some common warehouse digital transformation goals:
• Eliminate or reduce the need for manual inventory transactions.
• Eliminate the loss or misplacement of inventory within the warehouse
• Reduce errors associated with picking and putaway tasks
• Eliminate duplication of data (create one source of truth)
• Accurately track and manage product expirations
• Eliminate the need for physical counts
• Access to real-time inventory and warehouse data
• Avoid overstock or shortage of stock
• Accurately track revenue associated to storage and work tasks
• Create a mobile warehouse environment (scanners, smart devices, Wi-Fi connectivity)
• Improve employee and workplace experience
• Improve departmental collaboration
• Improve customer communication
These are some of the more common goals that Akatia Technologies’ sees from a warehouse digital transformation perspective, but there are certainly more. The idea is once we have defined goals we can more clearly implement the strategies and solutions to achieve them. Before embarking on a warehouse digital transformation, businesses should define these goals as part of their plan since it will help in identifying the right solutions for your specific needs and case.
Furthermore, by defining your goals you will be able to determine the scope of your transformative goals. This will help you to determine your needs versus your wants, allocate the right funds for the project and create your action plan.
Your action plan will be vital as it will give clarity to the work that needs to take place, who will be involved, the phases, and achievable timelines. No one has ever gotten anywhere without having clear directions provided. For some within your business the way to get a result may be obvious due to experience and expertise but that isn’t necessarily true for all stakeholders. Not to mention that every business has its own unique variables. So, make sure to have a clear plan and to involve everyone that has a key stake so that things run smoothly.
Finally, are the technology and solutions that will make these goals a reality. The conner stone of any digital transformation for warehouse operations will always be the warehouse management solution (WMS). Your WMS should not only be feature rich but also easily configurable to your needs, allow easy access to and secure data, be able to integrate with other core systems, be easy to maintain, and be fully scalable. Akatia’s WMS solution for WAM checks these boxes and because it’s developed for Salesforce it allows warehouses to configure processes exactly to their needs. This will allow your business to start leveraging process automation, standardize processes and promote accuracy. As well data from other parts of your business, like contacts, accounts, and financial data can be related to your inventory and vice versa. This type of approach consolidates your processes and inventory data management under one platform, instead of having multiple to platforms to manage, and makes it easier for employees as they only need to access and learn one instead of multiple platform.
As well the implementation of smart scanner devices into the warehouse environment will greatly help in your digital transformation. Not only will it improve accuracy but also efficiency, standardize your processes and improve worker productivity. On top of this smart scanner devices will also allow teams to directly communicate with each other either through SMS, email or video conferencing which improves communication, collaboration, and troubleshooting.
As we can see, defining clear goals for digitally transforming your warehouse operations will help you consider the ways you can go about your own digital transformation. It will also help in forming a plan and identifying the right solutions you require to do so. Remember, find the goals that make sense for your business. Once you achieve them you may find new ones that will help improve your business. So, start considering what goals you would like to reach in your own digital transformation and start setting up your warehouse for future success.
If you are considering ways to digitally transform your warehouse and inventory, click the link below to get in contact with us. We’d be happy to speak with you!