Deeper Data Analytics in Ecommerce Fulfillment

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Big data presents supply chain and ecommerce fulfillment center managers with an unprecedented opportunity to acquire real-time visibility of goods in transit and part of inventory.

But this also comes with a set of challenges, not least of which is how to manage the resulting flow of information without becoming drowned in data.

There’s a plethora of data in the FC right now, with lots of dashboards to present the figures, but information overload is happening. The future, especially coming out of lockdowns, is all about exception management.

When exceptions divert business operations from the normal process path, the outcome is usually labor-intensive offline resolution, long delays, inaccuracies and customer dissatisfaction. Intelligent software, however, will determine the priority of information and improve data quality targets.

Thinking at a More Granular Level

The data analytics picture has long been historical and retrospective in nature, but what we’re looking at now are highly accurate, granular and amalgamated reports, from shipping schedules, operator tracking and picking performance to warehouse heat maps, for optimum data visualization.

Collectively they provide a holistic overview of the inventory and resources and allow decision makers to create and display bespoke KPIs. These include the visualization of key operational KPIs with financial and supplier KPIs, which can only be done in real time.

Marginal Gains, Big Wins

When it’s fresh, data can be minutely mined and managed to control the little nuances that go on in an ecommerce fulfillment center. Every successful sports coach knows that a series of marginal gains can deliver huge improvements in performance and it’s these small tweaks to the DC where the real savings can be made. Plus, making decisions based on solid data is essential with margins tighter than ever.

This all translates into quick ROI and tangible improvements, because advanced software can help DC operators keep goods and processes flowing, while managing staff and resource allocation, through the targeted data it collects and delivers.

The Devil’s in the Details

Moreover, it’s all about data quality. A functionally rich, cloud-based WMS will integrate with other digital solutions, creating a valuable blockchain network of peer-to-peer transactions. This lets you share information about a container just once, but everyone up and down the chain can see that data in an instant. Ecommerce fulfillment center managers can also access a real-time bird’s eye view of their business allowing them to make better, more efficient decisions based on solid, quality data – essential in disruptive markets.

For example, when quality labor is at a premium and social distancing continues to be a requirement, coupled with a rapid change in orders, having real time data at your fingertips is critical. It boosts the effectiveness of your available workforce, their picking performance and helps you optimize the use of available space.

Most of today’s business decisions are driven by detailed data analysis, which is why it is so important for companies to understand their past and current performance and challenges in order to succeed in the future.

Consequently, the digital infrastructure must be able to deliver those key business metrics through much improved data quality. This helps drive efficiency, productivity and profitability – even in really challenging times – especially if you can easily see and understand it all.

Go With the Data Flow

Offering responsive support options helps change management by allowing the flow of data and order of operations within the application to be regularly updated. This empowers management to accurately store, organize, deliver and track the accomplishment of work throughout a facility.

Firms are also waking up to the value of the customer data trail and the loyalty they can harness through having a single customer view. This can only be achieved through integration and mapping each customers’ buying journey from start to end and beyond.

Consequently, having access to reliable, real-time data is an increasingly vital link in the supply and demand chain. This is especially true as retailers have to react on the fly to volatile and disorderly forces, such as the current pandemic.

Don White is CEO for WMS provider SnapFulfil North America