Managing Omnichannel Warehouses as an SME

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Traditionally, retailers will rely on a single warehouse to hold stock for all of their stores, and perhaps one other warehouse to hold stock for their online store. However, the proliferation of online shopping has meant that large companies like Amazon are increasing the speed at which they deliver customer purchases to their door.

With this in mind, small businesses need to try and keep up with the competition and one of the first ways of doing this is to increase the number of warehouses from which purchases can be transported to the customer.

It is important that small business owners looking to manage omnichannel warehouses are prepared for what this involves, whether by using inventory software or other ways of addressing the challenges. The following article provides a few tips for small businesses looking to improve productivity by investing in multiple warehouses.

The Basics

The main advantages of omnichannel warehouses for small businesses is that it will speed up the pace at which the company can deliver goods to customers who purchase them.

In the last decade or so, online shopping has become a major way for customers to make purchases, and more and more customers are demanding faster delivery times. Since big players in the retail industry like Amazon can afford to guarantee same-day delivery, small businesses owners looking to make their mark need to try and keep up.

By using multiple warehouses in a range of different regions, small businesses can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for customer purchases to be shipped to the correct location. Having multiple warehouses also helps to make purchasing and collecting goods easier for the customer – and customers value convenience. For example, with the surging popularity of online shopping, the “Click and Collect” system has also become very popular.

The “Click and Collect” system allows the customer to easily make their purchase online and to go to the physical store and pick up their products themselves. By having a range of warehouses available, the client won’t have to go out of their way to pick up their goods.

The Challenges

With any form of business growth there are challenges. One of the biggest threats from having omnichannel warehouses is that it complicates your ability to manage stock and processes. Whereas having all stock in one to two warehouses will be easier to oversee but entail slower delivery times, having multiple warehouses will put you at risk of losing track of inventory.

One of the best ways to manage multiple warehouses – and the inevitable increase in inventory that they entail – is by using inventory software. While small businesses usually start off by tracking inventory manually in record books, as the company grows this will become increasingly complicated and you will need to use inventory software.

Using inventory software will help you to track stock across omnichannel warehouses in real-time, at the click of a button. This type of software is essential for businesses with multiple warehouses, as it will drastically reduce the time you spend running to and from locations to track and trace the movement, delivery and production of goods.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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