Supply chain leaders highlight the benefits of warehouse and order management systems for peak season success

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More than three-quarters (77%) of supply chain executives believe that investing in a modern warehouse management system (WMS) or order management system (OMS) would help them to be more profitable during peak season, according to a recent survey led by Deposco of 200 supply chain executives, working for European retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, or 3PL/4PL firms.

40% of respondents overall have either invested in WMS and OMS platforms, or plan to do so this year as a means to better navigate peak-season bottlenecks, improve customer experience, and improve efficiency.

Because a WMS or OMS serves as the foundation for inventory, operations, and other technology systems, getting this type of platform in place is the first step to making things like on-time delivery and data consolidation possible. 

As relationships and inventories grow, organisations will need full inventory visibility at every stage, across dock to stock, pick to ship, and returns. Will Lovatt, General Manager and Vice President of Deposco Europe said: “Whether you outsource or not, you must be able to understand what’s going on and react to whatever happens. For example, you may have a key supplier going out of business, external forces might cause supply chain disruption, or you may experience variable demand across channels. You must be able to understand what’s going on and react to any situation at any time. The only way to manage that consistently is with great data. A system that provides this, reliably, allows you to reduce uncertainty and boost resiliency.” 

Three reasons stand out in the research when it comes to why supply chain leaders have invested, or want to invest, in WMS and OMS systems: (1) to support data and system consolidation for multiple channels or locations; (2) to reduce the cost to fulfil orders; and (3) to facilitate on-time delivery and fulfilment speed, all cited by 25% of respondents.  

Given the emphasis on WMS/OMS systems in 2023, it is no surprise that warehouse management and inventory management are top areas seen as needing the most improvement for peak season. To achieve this, supply chains are focused on three main strategies: 

  1. Expanding the supplier network (28% of the sample), bucking a multi-year trend of supplier consolidation. Risk mitigation through expanding the supplier network is now seen to deliver resiliency in the face of near catastrophic, single-source supply disruption. 
  2. Increasing held inventory (24% of the sample)
  3. New logistics partnerships (22% of the sample)

Lovatt concludes, “when searching for a WMS/OMS platform to support an organisation’s warehouse KPIs, remember that functionality and features are only part of the equation. Fast time-to-value and time-to-adapt with a quick return on investment are just as critical — especially to the financial decision-makers who hold the power to play or pass on these platforms. Choose investments that will b e foundational to success and create a clear path to revenue.”

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