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Process Change
» TMS and WMS
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Warehouse Software Upgrades
Rapid growth and expansion is what every entrepreneur, either individual or corporate, dreams of. After all, rapid growth and expansion are the mother lode of success in the retail industry. There are times, however, when those widely recognized measures of success, improbable as it may seem, also come with a downside.

Numerous high growth companies have found, much to their dismay, that their old, outdated warehouse and distribution systems could not measure up to the needs presented by a very rapid increase in business. If the gain in business is fast enough and large enough, the entire supply network may be taxed to its maximum capacity and beyond. All of the various warehouse functions, including receiving, putaway and replenishment suddenly become too slow and inefficient to manage the higher turnaround. There may be difficulties even having enough space to accommodate picking or to handle the numerous SKUs that are flowing through. Before reaching a point of loss of control and complete chaos, a company in that situation may need to make some equally rapid changes in its warehousing and distribution methodologies.

And, itís important when replacing an outdated system, to choose a software vendor that has strong experience with the type of business for which the system is being selected. For example, if the business is consumer goods, then a software vendor with strong experience dealing with that area of operations should be selected. Some systems specialize in picking by carton, scanning and producing labels, and allocating items to the proper order, thus are more appropriate for a high volume retail warehousing operation than others might be.

An additional problem that many retail operations face is working with offshore providers. In that case, the third party providers also must be able to deal with the increased order volume. When they cannot accommodate such an increase, it is sometimes more cost effective to centralize distribution in one location, or a few locations. It is important to select locations that offer available labor, a good transportation infrastructure, reasonable operating costs, and proximity to various markets. A site that is likely to accommodate future growth potential is also a best bet. If the system has to work in several locations, some of them offshore, then it must also have multilingual capabilities. At the same time, it is important to keep systems standardized, even though they are employed in far-flung locations all around the world.
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