Warehouse management is a critical part of an organisation as it helps in the distribution and movement of goods. In traditional Warehousing, to ensure timely delivery of products, organisations may decide to increase the number of warehouses, which would involve a substantial amount of investment and an increase in setup cost which would mean lesser profits and broader management.
In today’s competitive world, having a well-planned warehouse management system gives the organisation a competitive edge. According to the report “Walker Sands The Future of Retail 2019″ which says that around 35% of consumers say next day shipping is a key to get them to purchase more online, while 39% of consumers say that same-day delivery would make them more likely to shop online and 20% of consumers are looking for a two-hour(or less ) delivery.
So what can organisation’s do to ensure timely delivery of products to the customer and also not increase the cost for warehouse setup? The answer is virtual warehousing. The concept of virtual warehousing is very simple, but yet it is often misunderstood. In simpler terms, virtual Warehousing is a concept where all of your supply chains work as a network, and this network is then considered for fulfilment. So when an order arrives, the network is consulted, irrespective of where the product is stored, to identify the best possible way to fulfil the orders. In virtual warehousing, organisations would not hold all the inventory in the company’s warehouse, but they would ship the selected item directly from suppliers to customers which in turn ensures efficiency and quicker delivery of products.
The efficiency of the virtual warehousing system depends on the pace of information flow, and when combined with its real-time algorithmic process, it allows the virtual warehouse to filter and process data in ways that help organisations achieve optimal decision-making capabilities. The success of virtual warehousing system depends on the availability of:
- An alternative and efficient transportation system
- Fast communication and computing system
- Network facilities
- A real time tracking system
- Inventory management software for demand management
Around 64% of retail decision-makers believe that increasing warehouse capacity is the most viable way to deal with an expanded range online so how does virtual Warehousing benefit the organisation in fulfilling the growing demands of today’s customers:
- Faster fulfilment of orders: In the world of e-commerce, new retail challenges are continually arising, from demands for same-day or next-day delivery. Every business’s objective remains the same: to have organised inventory management and order fulfilment while meeting the customers increasing expectations. Virtual warehousing helps the organisation in fulfilling these increasing demands by allowing inventory to be stored anywhere in the world so that it can be distributed to the customer with speed and efficiency.
- Inventory management: A virtual warehouse can help the organisation in reserving, storing, and allocating inventory for more than one channel at a time, which makes it convenient for organisation to customise it and achieve the customer’s expectation.
- Seamless-integration: Integrating with multiple shipping partners can be complicated, by using virtual warehousing organisations can integrate multiple shipping partners and sales channels under one single dashboard making the integration process efficient and straightforward which helps the organisation in monitoring the whole process efficiently.
- Share real-time data about inventory: In conventional warehouse management it was difficult for both, a manufacturer and its suppliers to share information in real-time, but by using the virtual warehouse manufacturers can construct and operate the inventory levels of all the required material at the same time, and each supplier can record or update the information about its inventory which makes it convenient for both the parties(manufacturer and supplier).
- Cost efficient: Conventional warehousing can cost a lot of investment, but virtual warehousing is a business model that aims to reduce costs, optimize production as it is dependent on information technologies and real-time decision algorithms which makes it more efficient than other warehouse management systems.
- Expansion: Traditional warehousing can increase your cost and decrease your efficiency when you maintain warehouses in multiple locations spread across the globe, by using virtual warehousing you can increase your reach without a huge cost of investment.
- Flexible: The most compelling thing about virtual Warehousing is that it is not industry-specific; it can be applied to any industry which makes it a flexible warehouse management system.
The current trend shows that more and more manufacturers are choosing virtual warehousing coupled with a robust omnichannel supply chain system to fulfil the needs of their 21st Century customers. By using virtual warehousing businesses can simplify their shipping, tracking, planning, warehousing and fulfilment requirements through a single panel.