Inbound Logistics | January 2022

market, says Tom Singer, senior project manager with Tompkins Solutions. While these solutions have been around for years, they have typically been found in the lower end of the market. Now, top-tier WMS vendors are fully embracing cloud-centric, subscription- based models. Moreover, the value proposition for SaaS and cloud-based WMS packages has moved beyond simply eliminating the need for a company to invest in and maintain the IT infrastructure. Many SaaS WMS vendors and integrators now offer full sets of managed services for provisioning and administering the technology stack behind their solution, accelerating the time to value.

logistics company AirTerra. Even many mid-sized retailers lack the capital to own and operate their own e-commerce fulllment operations. Instead, many will need to maintain their focus on customer-facing operations, like branding and website design, Beabout says, and then partner with other businesses—what some call coopetition—to jointly leverage technology that can streamline back- end operations, like supply chain and transportation to gain economies of scale. Coopetition of these functions, generally through an independent third party, will accelerate as e-commerce continues to grow.

which develops digital sales strategies for manufacturers. He works with a company that sources and manufactures do-it-yourself building kits in the United States. To leverage its made-in-America production, the company formed a digital rapid response team composed of web designers, e-commerce back- end developers, and integrations specialists. They identied additional product SKUs and variations they could quickly bring online into congurable product pages, and then worked with operations to lower lead times. These steps offered “a clear advantage while competitors were stocking out and offering indeterminate lead times,” Dean says.

Turn to the cloud. Many of today’s cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions offer advanced analytics that allow for a more granular look at business operations. For instance, they can provide data that shows which products are more protable. Similarly, software as a service (SaaS) is beginning to dominate the warehouse management system (WMS)

Robots can do more than dance. While material handling equipment has long centered around xed, capital- intensive systems, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) offer capabilities similar to these solutions, but with greater exibility and at a fraction of the investment, Singer says. Many can reduce labor costs and boost service levels—key benets for e-commerce operations struggling with labor shortages and explosive customer demand.

Embrace “coopetition.” As e-commerce continues to grab a larger share of consumer spending, it is transforming fulllment operations, as each item must be individually picked and transported to customers’ doors, adding complexity and raising costs, says Brent Beabout, president and founder of

Use technology to look outside your organization. It’s no longer enough to understand only your own supply chain. A hurricane on the U.S. Gulf Coast or ooding in Europe can impact supply chains around the globe. “You have to manage the known information

Recent delays in ocean transport have highlighted the lack of visibility to many ocean shipments. To remedy this, Pegasus Logistics Group invested in a technology solution that provides visibility and arms shippers with more information to better prepare.

118 Inbound Logistics • January 2022

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