Cloud technology and your warehouse
Cloud technology influences warehousing strategies
The events of the past couple of months have cast a new light on cloud technology. Before the coronavirus upended the average workday, having cloud-based options within your distribution business was nice. Convenient. Maybe even a little fancy. But nowadays, those options very well could spell the difference between success and failure.
There’s lots to be said about the advantages of cloud-based ERP, but that’s a topic for another time. As a whirlwind recap, some of the main advantages of cloud-based ERP are:
- Increased flexibility for employees, whether or not they’re working from home
- Enhanced data security with powerful and trustworthy cloud encryption
- Easier access to the latest and greatest integrations
- More opportunities for automation and connectivity
We’re big fans of cloud ERP, no doubt about it. But let’s take a step back (but not far away) and consider something a little more tangible: your warehouse.
How cloud technology influences your warehouse setup
There aren’t a lot of obvious ways that a warehouse for a company running a cloud-based ERP solution differs from that of a company with an on-premises system. The distinctions tend to be a bit subtle…it takes a keen eye to spot them. But they’re there.
Consider the online storefronts that ecommerce or omnichannel sales (both increasingly more common for cloud-based distribution businesses) bring to the table. When you’re running on cloud functionality, all those integrations and real-time updates can really put the pedal to the metal for product movement. And the more movement in a warehouse, the more important the physical layout of your warehouse becomes.
Beyond considering product storage methods due to ecommerce demands, cloud technology facilitates communication in almost every way. Even in the warehouse.
Because of this, a cloud-based warehouse will have a distinct lack of a few things commonly found in non-cloud environments: paper and non-picking foot traffic.
When the warehouse operates from the same cloud-based ERP solution as the sales department, the moment an order comes through, the warehouse is aware. The picking process can start right away. No need to print off a pick ticket, or send someone to physically bring that ticket or order to the floor. And there’s also no risk of batch orders causing an unexpected spike in orders at the end of the day, which is a possibility when there’s a delay in orders pushed from one system to another.
On a similar note, when your warehouse is equipped with mobile scanners also operating from the same ERP solution, stock counts become a simple, foolproof task that requires very little manpower.
Such paperless functionality is available for warehouses using certain on-premises ERP systems too. But it’s integral to the cloud’s overall design and purpose.
How cloud technology improves your communication with carriers
Let’s take a look at shipping next.
Most carriers these days also operate in a cloud environment. When your warehouse does the same, shipping information is checked for accuracy the moment it enters the system. Your warehouse can fix any errors immediately, and there are no delays in getting your shipments out the door.
Contrast this with the non-cloud method. When you shipping without cloud technology, or without technology that mimics the cloud, shipping details are typically submitted at the end of the day in one large file. This usually happens after the day’s orders have been packed and loaded. So, if there’s an error, it isn’t revealed until the next day, and you’ve lost valuable time. Error correction is now a hassle, rather than a quick, painless process.
How to take the next steps toward a more productive warehouse
Cloud technology is here to stay, there’s no doubt about that, and that’s a great thing for distribution businesses. Cloud functionality brings a host of exciting integrations to the table, streamlines your operations, and contributes to a more productive, competitive warehouse.
But at the end of the day, your warehouse is a physical space that requires physical considerations. Whether you’re already operating from a cloud environment, considering making the switch, or feeling bogged down by a system plagued with inefficiency, it’s well worth your time to take a good, long look at your current inventory storage methods. You might be surprised on how a few “small” changes can make a big difference.
To learn more about the importance of a good warehouse organization method, particularly for a busy, thriving warehouse taking full advantage of all the advantages the cloud brings, check out our ebook.