Online businesses strive for achieving success by catering to various locations. Ecommerce businesses that achieve significant order volume often prefer to segregate their businesses with multiple business channels and warehouses that caters to a large number of customers spanning multiple geographical locations.
Multiple warehouses deliver in multiple fronts. It helps customers with the benefit of time and utility that is not easily achievable with a single warehouse. The deliveries to customers get faster, transportation costs are reduced and it provides the business easy accessibility to raw materials and storage.
But when multiple warehouses are incorporated in a business it poses a lot of operational challenges as well which might hamper the productivity and top line and bottom-line of the business. Challenges like paper works, over stocking, stock out, inventory management etc are difficult to manage.
There are few tips that can work wonders if you are looking at managing multiple warehouses with Shopify, Woocommerce and Magento.
Shopify Multiple Warehouse Management:
Shopify provides an excellent technical infrastructure to scale your business across the globe. However, they do not have a comprehensive multi location fulfilment center support yet. Not a lot of popular extensions are available that addresses the issue. Automation of WMS is the solution for managing multiple warehouses.
Magento Multiple Warehouse Management:
Magento has got few limitations when it comes to multiple warehouse management. It does not support multiple warehousing in the current form. However, there are few extensions that enables multi location warehouse. If you need anything extra apart from these features you need to custom build them.
Here are some popular extensions that can enable multi -location/multi warehouse inventory management in Magento:
Multi location inventory by Aitoc, Multi Warehouses by Magenest, Inventory Extension for Magento 2 by Boost my Shop.
Although these are opensource extensions, they lack the full-fledged warehouse management required for each warehouse to work in sync.
WooCommerce Multiple Warehouse Management:
WooCommerce does not plan to add the multiple warehouse feature in near future for their free version. However, they are planning to make it a premium feature. There are few extensions which are not well known among the users and lacks full functionality. Again you need a cloud based WMS that can handle and co-ordinate among all the warehouses to make your business streamlined.
What Features to Look for In a WMS:
The solution to manage multi location warehouses is to implement a WMS that has got advanced features to assign, redirect, restock inventories on real time basis. Before choosing the correct WMS, one must understand how they can optimise the process of managing multiple warehouses and then opt for a system that fits the bill perfectly as well as value for money. We have listed down few essential features critical for a comprehensive WMS.
Cloud based system
A WMS for multiple location which is cloud based allows you to monitor your inventory from anywhere on a real time basis. It removes physical boundaries which is important for multiple location management. An added advantage of a cloud-based system is it allows updating and viewing of your realtime inventory status. This means that you can ship goods to a customer from your warehouse in UK while sitting in your office in Paris and track all the details simultaneously.
Option to set stock level and re-order alerts:
To identify maximum level, minimum level, average level and reorder level for each SKU per warehouse is very crucial to achieve optimum level of inventory management. It helps you reduce cost of overstocking and out-of-stock situations where you lose out on sales. While managing multiple warehouse facility, the over booking situation can easily be eliminated if you have a real time data of available stock with warehouse details.
Inventory Forecasting tool:
Inventory forecasting tool is very crucial to understand the pattern of stock movement. It is not necessary to maintain each sku in every warehouse owned. have backup plans for each aspect of inventory management. Be proactive and prepared to any possible issues. Use a tool that can analyse the sales pattern and generate a forecasting report using data intelligence. It will save a lot of cost and time involved in inventory management.
Make Warehouse wise inventory record:
While keeping records of the available inventory, it is always advised to keep the record warehouse wise so that any overbooking can be redirected to the available warehouse to be fulfilled.
Automate Warehouse Management
Automation of each warehouse includes cycle count, Barcode scanning, serialization of stocks, Shelving, PO generation, Quality Check, Put away option, gate pass and a lot more. These features help optimise the entire warehouse management system right from procurement to dispatch. A perfect WMS requires all the features that reduces your time and save you money.
Identify Stock Demand segregated Geographically
Multiple geographic locations will have different demands, choices. The Omnichannel solution must have excellent data analytics tool to provide report on the demand pattern on the basis of warehouse location and season of sale.
Manage damaged stock inventory
When you are in to handling goods, one of the harsh reality is damaged stock. In eCommerce business it increases many folds. Even you might receive damaged good from a supplier or an employee might unintentionally damage a product. These unfortunate incidents if not managed well, can take the inventory management process for a toss. Imagine a scenario where you have 1 product and that is a damaged one. You have not marked that as a damaged good and you receive an order from Shopify to fulfill. It will have a bad experience for the customer. So having a damaged goods feature is a critical feature in your WMS.
Have multiple supplier management for high demand products
Fast moving items are items that have a huge demand, so you may end up with shortage of those items before you notice that. Therefore, its always safe to have multiple suppliers who can constantly fulfil high-selling items in the stock. Your WMS should be capable of handling multiple suppliers for same SKU and place replenishment orders when the stock level hits warning level.
Regularly audit stocklist Report:
Inventory Count feature is used to avoid unexpected stock shortages. All these reports and dashboard must reflect data that will help you understand your inventory status on a regular basis across the warehouses.
The WMS should work as an intermediary between sales channels and warehouses. Inventory assignment, forecasting etc are crucial requirements for a business operating with multiple locations. This helps in reducing losses due to over selling and increases brand value with better customer satisfaction. Faster delivery helps growth in sales in long term due to enhanced reputation in marketplaces. So choose your WMS carefully to grow your business.