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14.09.2021

How the modern WMS integrates supply chains of today – from production to last-mile delivery

Jon Kuerschner, Vice President, Supply Chain Consulting

The COVID-19 pandemic threw the supply chain for a loop, prompting considerable growth in ecommerce. Consumers used online channels – many for the first time – to order groceries, meals, household supplies, personal care items and more. This forced the supply chain to pivot to accommodate unprecedented online growth.

And the flexibility of the modern-day warehouse management system (WMS) helped companies cater to developing trends. Perhaps yours was one of them. Companies scaled up their web presence and scaled down other areas where demand decreased. Supply chain complexity increased – that included adding or improving channels like direct-to-consumer via e-commerce, e-commerce via a third party like Amazon, and often offering an endless aisle to customers.

We live in an increasingly multichannel world, where the ability for companies to create accurate forecasts with so much variability is difficult. But with technology resources becoming ever more intertwined, system integration and communication has become a critical factor in the success of warehouse operations.

Technology can enable holistic supply chain information sharing to gain efficiencies and grow your business. And key to transparency across the supply chain – everything from production to last-mile delivery – is a modern-day WMS integration. 

Robust WMS solution – at the center of it all

From a traditional integration perspective, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system has been considered the brains of an organization, sitting in the middle of business system infrastructure as it creates the “plan.” Recently, we’ve seen that shift toward the WMS becoming more of the center of the supply chain because of its nimbleness. And while you know that the ERP remains relevant, when an item is produced, that data flows into the WMS. And the WMS initiates people, processes, and inventory to start to move – think, for instance, how it reconciles receipts, imports consumer demand and interoperates with transportation.

In fact, today’s WMS and transportation management system (TMS) solutions could be considered chatty. That is, they “speak with one another” and deal with the volatility and variability that takes place within the distribution center, particularly since the WMS can be easily configured to deal with a growing number of channels.

A case study in WMS integration

A perfect example of how a WMS helps integrate various channels and has become the backbone of supply chain execution involves one of our long-time customers. The company started out as a midsized manufacturer that was successful selling through a wholesale channel. Over time, the brand flourished by selling via wholesale, brick-and-mortar retail, e-commerce and big-box mass merchants. It even began selling companies’ goods through a third-party, vendor-direct channel.

New sales channels bolstered business but added complexity. However, with a flexible WMS at the center of its supply chain world – along with a sophisticated order management system (OMS) – this customer had the adaptability necessary to grow into new selling channels, creating a larger customer base and new revenue streams along the way.

As these new selling channels came to fruition, this client added incremental capabilities that were directly integrated into the WMS – not the ERP. Multiple projects were spun up in a short amount of time. There was a significant increase in supply chain complexity that involved moving to selling in many new channels. And the WMS had the ability to flex, enabling the company to grow and become wildly successful.

Set yourself up for growth

There’s an old adage that companies “simply make it, sell it, distribute it and deliver it.”

Delete the word simply. New channels equal new opportunities for growth, but it doesn’t come without complexity. However, a robust WMS implementation that integrates multiple moving parts and solutions helps.

So, what new heights would you like your company to reach? What new channels could you enter into to grow your business?  

If you’re ready to learn more about how a WMS integration can provide transparency across the supply chain and improve your warehouse operations, visit here.

Related solutions

Supply Chain Software

From warehouses, factory yards and industrial plants, to marine terminals and transportation fleets, Körber’s all-encompassing suite of Supply Chain Software is designed to help manufacturing and distribution organizations to maximize space, improve efficiencies and increase productivity across the entire business.

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