2017: Innovate, adapt & evolve

It’s a vast understatement to say that e-commerce has changed the way the supply chain game is played.

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It’s a vast understatement to say that e-commerce has changed the way the supply chain game is played. In fact, it might be more appropriate to state that the world of digital commerce has introduced more risk and complexity than warehouse and DC professionals have ever faced.

From rapid order intake to omni-channel order fulfillment to establishing the optimal distribution network to meeting next-day or same-day delivery windows, retailers and manufacturers now simply have to innovate, adapt and evolve—or get knocked out of their respective markets.

And the concept of digital commerce in B2C and B2B is only going to gain more momentum. In fact, some of the early research numbers rolling in from Adobe Digital Insights tell us that retailers tallied up a record $91.7 billion in online sales over the 60 days that made up the official 2016 holiday shopping season, an 11% increase over 2015.

So, if you feel like your operation might be in catch-up mode, take heart: You’re not alone. It’s a new year, and you can take a few first steps to bring your facility up to speed.

First, I would clear your calendar and make plans to attend ProMat 2017—the nation’s most comprehensive materials handling trade show—at Chicago’s McCormick Place from April 3-6. I suggest pulling your team together, assessing your operation’s most pressing needs and hitting the show floor in search of real solutions.

ProMat is the single best opportunity to see all the industry has to offer under one roof, so go in with an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The conversations with vendors and peers alone are worth every minute, every penny you put forth for this event. Modern will once again be covering every square foot of ProMat, so look for our comprehensive coverage beginning next month.

For more of a kick start, I suggest turning to “7 warehouse e-commerce best practices for 2017” (page 42). “As I was putting this story together, I guess I was a little surprised to hear that paper-based systems are still at the foundation of many fulfillment operations,” says editor at large Bridget McCrea. “But the good news is that for every company that’s playing catch-up in e-commerce fulfillment, there’s at least one operation that has already uncovered some solid best practices for meeting today’s challenges.”

While McCrea leverages our best consulting sources to cover some of the fundamentals, editor at large Roberto Michel dives into the growing importance of labor management systems (LMS) and slotting solutions—and how the combination of the two are helping to cut costs and improve efficiencies in e-commerce fulfillment.

“I found that most providers agree that slotting and LMS are complementary, with LMS metrics helping to determine when slotting might be needed, and labor management functions helping to test the labor costs of slotting recommendations,” says Michel. “At least some vendors also see slotting practices changing from a seasonal or occasional exercise to a more frequent one—some even daily.”

Sure, you may have some ground to make up; but it’s not too late. Roll into 2017 ready to innovate, adapt and evolve.


About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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Article Topics

LMS · ProMat 2017 · This Month in Modern · · All Topics
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