Advancements in cloud-based systems have enabled companies to track accurate inventory levels across multiple warehouses, but having complete vertical integration has been difficult to automate. Vertical integration in warehousing means that a single piece of software takes care of viewing inventory, ordering, picking and automating shipment all with one system. Having everything in one system allows companies to ensure that everything is as up to date and optimized as possible.
Fiverun is a company that is working on unifying this process for large retailers. The company’s system gives retailers a real-time view of inventory across the entire business and completes the entire transaction all through its system. It has an integrated fulfillment process that automates restocking once a store places a request for more product. The system has a view of what is in stock in each warehouse, who is picking it, and integrates with major carriers to track shipping. This streamlines everything into one cohesive system that is easier to manage than other current solutions.
Optimizing the placement of where products are stored on the floor of a warehouse can reduce times for shipping and improve productivity of workers. Popular products that are high-volume can be placed at strategic points throughout the warehouse to reduce the amount of time spent picking when packing up an order. Software companies such as Manhattan Associates can build a digital view of your warehouse and help place those items in the most optimal position based on sales volumes and storage capacity. It’s been shown that companies that utilize this type of software normally improve order accuracy and can see a return on investment in as little as 18 months.
Seeing a warehouse with autonomous robots buzzing around looks and feels like stepping into the future. The scene seems chaotic, but in reality it is a carefully choreographed system that saves time and improves worker safety. Once an order is placed, robotic units retrieve pods that have the requested items and bring them to the worker. The major player in this industry is Kiva Systems, which provides the orange robots Amazon uses in its large warehouses. This system is a capital-intensive investment for many companies, but can increase productivity and cost savings in the long run for large-scale warehouse operations. n
Austin Grandt is the CEO and co-founder of Export Abroad, an international sales and strategy platform. Austin harnesses years of private and public sector experience to help companies grow into new markets.