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Revamping Modern Warehouse Management with Cloud Applications

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By SP Singh, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Enterprise Application Integration and Services, Infosys

The growth of e-commerce, omnichannel distribution, and the paradigm shift driven by shifting customer preferences have impacted the warehouse operations priorities. In the past, businesses used warehouses to store and distribute products to brick-and-mortar stores. With the rise of online shopping, warehouses are now handling voluminous orders, leading to an increased demand for efficiency and accuracy in warehouse operations.

SP Singh

Warehouse management is a strategic
Warehouse management is a dynamic and evolving field that faces several challenges.
Inventory optimisation: Maintaining optimal inventory levels is crucial to avoid overstocking or stockouts. Balancing supply and demand, reducing carrying costs, and minimising obsolescence are ongoing challenges for warehouse managers.

Warehouse layout and space utilisation: Efficient space utilisation is essential for maximising storage capacity and optimising workflow. Designing an effective warehouse layout, organising product placement, and ensuring the smooth movement of goods can be challenging, especially in limited spaces.

Labor management: Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled warehouse personnel is vital for efficient operations. Managing labor schedules, productivity tracking, and maintaining employee engagement pose ongoing challenges.

Cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) delivers exceptional value

Cloud-powered warehouses are well-positioned to meet modern-day challenges, offering advantages such as scalability, resiliency, efficiency, and agility.

In case of natural disasters or other events that disrupt the warehousing function, the business can quickly switch to the backup warehouse that is powered by the cloud. Cloud-based warehouses can automate many of the manual tasks. For example, robots can be used to pick products from shelves and significantly improve picking efficiency and accuracy, freeing warehouse workers to focus on strategic tasks, such as optimising inventory levels.

A cloud-based WMS offers elevated warehouse operations, such as real-time inventory visibility and advanced analytics. Employees can see the exact location of the products and the number of items in stock, allowing them to pick orders more quickly and efficiently. They can use analytics to identify bottlenecks in the picking process or identify products that are not moving as fast as the others.

Cloud-powered warehouses are more agile than traditional warehouses, as they can easily adapt to new requirements that can be driven by industry business peaks or seasonal peaks. For example, a business that introduces a new product can quickly update its cloud-powered warehouse to accommodate the new product.

In addition to these advantages, cloud-powered warehouses integrate well with Industry 4.0 technologies, such as automation software, big data, and artificial intelligence.

Selecting the right cloud-based WMS
When selecting a cloud-based WMS, there are several important factors to consider.

Scalability
Ensure that the cloud-based WMS can scale with your business needs. For example, a business that experiences a spike in online orders during the holiday season should be able to scale up its warehouse capacity to meet the demand. It should be capable of handling increasing inventory volumes, order volumes, and users without sacrificing performance or incurring substantial additional costs.

Functionalities
Evaluate the WMS’s functionality and features to ensure they align with your warehouse operations and requirements. Look for features such as inventory management, returns management, reporting and analytics, and others.

Ease of Use
The WMS should have an intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate and operate. It should minimise the learning curve for the warehouse staff, enabling them to quickly adapt and effectively use the system. While cloud-based WMS offers numerous benefits, they also come with barriers. These systems rely heavily on a stable internet connection, without which operations and real-time data exchange between the WMS and warehouse infrastructure could get disrupted, leading to delays and inaccuracies.

Organisations must protect data about sensitive inventory and operations residing on the cloud. One also needs to comply with data protection regulations and industry standards. Lastly, integrating cloud-based WMS with warehouse systems, such as order management systems, can be complex. Ensuring seamless data flow and compatibility between different systems often requires custom integration efforts, which can be time-consuming and costly.

In conclusion
Cloud-powered warehouses offer several advantages that help businesses meet modern-day market requirements. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition are adopting cloud-powered warehouses and finding innovative ways to use them to improve efficiency and accuracy.

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