ECommerce and Warehousing in Africa Warehouses are an integral part of the supply chain networks of a country and for its economy, industries, and businesses. The role of warehouses is no longer confined to storage or to serve as mere distribution hubs; the modern-day warehouses are transforming into distribution cum fulfilment centres. Ecommerce and contemporary business models and strategies have played a big role in bringing about this transition in the traditional concepts of warehouses and warehousing. While the primary role of conventional warehouses is storage the objectives of modern-day warehouses/distribution centres are to optimize the storage and flow of inventory and serve additional functionalities like packaging, product mixing, order fulfilment, etc. This enhancement in the scope of functions enables warehouses/distribution centres to address the contemporary business requirements, fulfil business and CX strategies, and achieve operational efficiency with the help of process management and technology. Managing today’s eCommerce fulfilment warehouses/distribution centres requires professional expertise that has led to businesses turning to warehouse consulting firms specializing in the management of warehouses for eCommerce companies and the retail industry in general. With rising retail and eCommerce activities, infrastructural deficiencies are a concern in many African countries. If we keep the external, uncontrollable factors aside, there is a need to move from the traditional concepts to facilities that sync with the modern-day warehousing and fulfilment requirements equipped with relevant IT systems and integration, efficient layout planning, robust processes, and trained staff. From our stint with providing Warehouse Consulting Services across multiple retail verticals, we have highlighted here some of the challenges involved in managing today’s warehouses and distribution centres. Challenges in managing warehouses and distribution centres Meeting the eCommerce delivery standards Delivery timeframe is a fiercely competitive battleground for the retail eCommerce players these days. If you promise to deliver a day or a few hours earlier, you get the order. This competitive edge of ‘few hours’ could mean a lot when we consider hundreds or thousands of orders even for a day. But to be able to fulfil the delivery promises made to customers, the warehouses and distribution centres need to level up their game. Unprofessional and unplanned ways of warehouse management cannot get you there. To get the delivery game right you need professional and experienced Warehouse Management Consultants. Choosing the right warehouse management software Business software applications play a big role in managing warehouse operations and keeping them in sync with the business and marketing strategies and the rest of the supply chain and distribution network. To be able to decide correctly on the required IT platform here, one needs an updated awareness of how the modern-day warehouses and distribution centres function. This will help in identifying the IT specifications. Warehouse Consulting Services gives you the best technical suggestion for the growth of your distribution centre business. Managing the space Whether you are using a third-party warehousing/order fulfilment service or managing your own, you must be well-acquainted with what constitutes efficient layout planning. If it is a case of third-party service, it will help you assess their layout and if it is your own, you can plan and implement it the right way. In either case, this has a bearing on how quickly, safely, and correctly inventory operations are carried out towards swift and successful order fulfilment. Warehouse Consulting Services are expertised at managing the space and designing the layout for your warehouse. Managing the flow of inventory Two situations that put stress on warehouses and warehousing are excess inventory and idle space. With excess inventory, the space management goes for a toss and with empty shelves, the costing goes up. Keeping the inventory at the optimum levels is the way to avoid these two situations. This will involve accurate demand forecasting, purchase planning and procedures, real-time inventory assessments, lead time estimations, etc. The industry expert Warehouse Management Consultants are well known for providing suitable inventory management solutions. Last-mile delivery No matter what you have done so far for a delightful customer journey, if the last-mile delivery fails to meet the expected standards, you risk jeopardizing the customer experience. So, it is important that you hire the right delivery service or the right delivery partners going through a robust selection process with well-planned and defined operational procedures for this critical touchpoint. How YRC can help: a glimpse Keeping in consideration the modern-day requirements of retail and eCommerce, we offer a comprehensive set of services aimed at helping businesses build a strong warehouse and inventory management system. Our team of warehouse and distribution centre consultants will guide you from planning to implementation. Highlighted below are some of our services. Layout Planning and workflow optimization In addition to assistance with warehouse layout planning supervised by warehouse Management Consultants, our experts will also guide you in inventory flow planning and development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure that your enterprise’s warehouse operations are carried out smoothly, uninterruptedly, and efficiently even in the busiest hours of the day or hectic seasons while maintaining the operational standards and the objectives of order fulfilment. iWMS Validation and Selection The software application for warehouse management is required to record, register, track, and disseminate inventory information within and beyond the warehouse affecting the purchase, order fulfilment, and delivery functions. The iWMS or Integrated Warehouse Management System can be regarded as a stand-alone ERP for warehouse management. However, it also needs to be integrated with the rest of the processes of the supply chain. This helps in accurate and timely decision-making for placing purchases orders, warehouse space optimization, and maintaining the delivery timelines. YRC’s Warehouse Consulting Services designed to assist you in the selection, integration, and implementation of the right integrated warehouse management solution for your retail and eCommerce fulfilment warehouse. Staff Training In designing the staff training programs, our Warehouse Management Consultants cover job analysis, assessment of the skill requirements, the examination of the prevalent working procedures, creating a training calendar, etc. Our objective is to ensure that you have a trained staff manned at your warehouses and distribution centres. Inventory Management SOPs YRC’s team of SOP experts will help you in the planning and implementation of robust SOPs for the various activities of inventory management like demand forecasting, reorder and procurement, handling and packaging, logistics and delivery, SOP-IT integration, vendor/supplier selection, storage, process audits, etc. Delivery function The scope of our Warehouse Consulting Services for warehouse management is not confined to the four walls of your warehouse/distribution centre and we will also ensure that you have a reliable last-mile delivery action. To achieve that our Warehouse Management Consultants will assist you in defining your last-mile delivery strategy and delivery partner integration. We will also help you in the selection of the right delivery partner(s) following a planned and stringent process. Process audits YRC’s audit objective goes beyond tracking the input-to-output journey and encompasses the effectiveness of the processes which are giving the intended results. So, it is not just the achievement of the process output that we focus on but also evaluating the merit of the process itself. We are a boutique retail consulting firm. To know more about our warehouse consulting services or if you have any query, drop us a message and we will get back to you.