As manufacturers, distributors and retailers all strive to run efficient operations that not only meet the demands of their traditional businesses, but also support their e-commerce operations, the race is on to develop efficient, optimized warehouses and DCs to support these multifaceted operations. Driven by the sheer volume of products and services being sold online—a whopping $12.8 billion on Black Friday alone in the United States, according to Adobe Digital Insights—everyone wants to capture a slice of the 11.3% of total retail sales that are being transacted virtually, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The good news is that for every company that’s still playing catch-up in the e-commerce fulfillment game, there’s at least one organization (and countless vendors) that have already uncovered some solid best practices for tackling those challenges.
Over the last few years, Jeff Mueller, vice president at Sedlak Management Consultants, has seen more emphasis on creating all-purpose facilities that can handle small orders, medium orders and large orders—and that can do it all in a very accurate manner. Going a step further, he says, firms are using IT-enabled systems and distributed order management (DOM) solutions at both the distribution and the retail levels to ensure smooth and seamless processes to and from those all-purpose warehouses and DCs.
“The goal is to be able to ship inventory from any point, stores included,” says Mueller, “and in a way that allows companies to accurately maintain inventory accuracy and follow through in a very cohesive manner."