Warehousing is the nerve center for any distribution operation and biggest source of customer service issues. These issues are typically caused by inaccuracy in dispatches e.g. short, mismatched, delayed. In addition, a badly managed warehouse can often add to hidden costs of supply chain including shrinkage, sub-optimal packaging adding to transportation costs and wrong choice of transporter.
In a competitive, connected world with e-commerce setting new benchmarks for visibility and delivery of dispatches, warehouse operations can often differentiate a large, successful trading/retail/distribution operation from also rans.
To control this important aspect of customer service, nearly every company in trading value chain at some point has managed their own inventory from own or leased facility and as such there is often a resistance to change as well as temptation to keep a tighter control by keeping it in-house. However, in most self-managed operations, aligning and streamlining operations to achieve customer service objectives is often an uphill task.
A successfully outsourced operation can add a significant measure of reliability, certainty and visibility to the entire supply chain releasing sales bandwidth to focus on what matters.
We at Glaucus have been able to bring together a mix of processes, people and technology to help our clients achieve On-time, In-full, Always. One key focus area which has allowed us to promise fill-rates and on-time ready-to-dispatch as high as 99.9% while shrinkage and error rates as low as 0.1% is “Accountability”.
Large scale operations often resort to automation and robotics to bring reliability to the warehousing operations. However, with scale being a significant constraint to effective automation, distribution warehousing in India remains labour intensive and prone to human errors. We have been able to minimize such human errors by holding individuals accountable to the work that they do and incentivizing for accuracy.
We learnt the hard way that this is easier said than done! In a large scale operation such accountability often comes at the cost of productivity and low-margin business like ours no longer remains competitive with such loss of productivity.
- For us solution was a well-designed, mobile first WMS which ensures that specific individuals are accountable for every activity throughout the order cycle from approval to dispatch while minimizing productivity loss.
- Problem:Large number of SKUs and inventory across categories combined with manual operations led to fill rates as low as 90%. In addition, there were significant customer issues related to wrong packing and outbound QC leading to losses.
- Process Change: Assigning task ownership and holding individuals accountable at each stage of inbound – unloading, QC, GRN and put away as well as outbound – pick, QC, pack and dispatch and assigning individual responsibilities for various customer issues
- Result: Consistently deliver 99.5%+ fill rate and significant reduction in number of complaints.
So, next time you are struggling with problems in your warehouse operations think of ways in which you can hold individuals accountable and combine that with the right incentives. It is simple but very effective!
Technology can help you achieve this. In last decade rapid growth in technology has significantly reduced development cycle and costs allowing rapid modifications to a system to keep pace with the operations. It is possible today to rapidly incorporate feedback and learnings from the floor of the warehouse into the system allowing benefits to be shared across.
So don’t pick a system which is static. Select a system which is as dynamic as the environment that you are operating in and can evolve as your business evolves.