14 May 2015

4 ‘need to know’ tips for optimising your online supply chain

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Online and mobile commerce have transformed the way we purchase products, as well as how products flow through the supply chain to the end user.

With the rapid evolution of supply chain technology, the retail sector is in the midst of ridiculous amounts of change.  Are you managing to keep pace with your competitors?

Whilst most agree it’s an exciting time to be working in the sector, survival hinges upon innovation and efficiency.

With consumer’s expectations growing at the rate of knots, retailers now need to find ways to deliver ‘top notch’ consumer centric services in the most cost effective way.

After consultation with some industry experts from our online retail supply chain event series, I’ve put together just a few ‘need to know’ tips for retailers operating in the omni-channel space.

1.       Invest in a supply chain overhaul for multi-channel

·         Use benchmarking and pilot programmes to identify the right supply chain model for your organsiation
·         Build an overall business case for investment

2.       Optimise your warehouse layout today!

Determining the best layout, racking, picking and packing approaches for your distribution sites will offer enormous gains in the long term. It will enable you to identify opportunities to reduce warehouse costs without compromising on delivery on time.

As yourself the following:
ü  How long are items sitting in the DC?
ü  How big, how heavy are they? How much variety is there?
ü  What's the life cycle? FIFO, FEFO requirements?

3.       Use effective processing methods to prevent bottle necks

So how do you know when your process will bottle neck before it does?
ü  Stress test it! turn your warehouse staff into distribution analysts and get on the floor  
Want to know how to minimise your bottlenecks when they do occur??
ü  Look at what can be done upstream. Often steps can be added upstream to reduce workload on the bottleneck.
ü  Determine whether the bottleneck process can be broken down further.

4.       Use the best picking method for your purposes!

Its critical that you determine the most effective picking method for your company. Here is a basic run down of your options:

A) Pick by Order

ü  This is a low cost setup option.
ü  It’s compatible with the most and least sophisticated WMS and highly flexible.
ü  It also works with all picking techniques, paper, RF, Voice, etc.
       X     It has a low pick efficiency.
       X     It is scalable, but labor adds up quick.

B) Bulk picking/Pick then Put

       X    Higher initial investment, compatible with most WMS’s although require some pick logic.
ü  Good efficiency for multi-line orders and high velocity items.

C) Automation/Tray sorters

ü  High level of efficiency with low labor costs.
                     X     High initial cost, requires sophisticated WMS and pick logic.


Are you doing all you can to optimise your retail supply chain?  I’d love to hear your hot supply chain management tips or challenges so please share! 




From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!  
Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia.
Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

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