Blurring boundaries between wholesale and retail trade

Commercial digitalisation blurs boundaries between wholesale and retail trades redefining time, place and distance.

Global trade, changes in the order-delivery chain and digitalisation open up new markets for wholesalers.

Online sales orders – neither time nor location dependent – keep increasing. The concentration of key functions and effective control emerge as new competitive advantages. It is easy to track goods and their prices online, e.g. using a product code. At the same time, lot sizes are shrinking and deliveries fragmenting. Effective operations management, profitably produced service and flexibility in the delivery chain require modern ERP solutions.

Wholesale deliveries speeding up

The competition for customers forces merchants to streamline delivery chains and shorten delivery lead times.

Pace of re-supply deliveries picking up

The shrinking flow of products signals major changes for warehousing and logistics in the wholesale trade. Traditionally, wholesalers deliver goods to retailers in large quantities – either in pallets or containers. Wholesalers must be able to cost-effectively package products into smaller lots, and in addition to bulk packaging, they will have to process partial packages. The number of line items and orders will increase, while individual quantity of items will decrease.

Change impacts warehouse space and operations management

Efficient processing of small order lots in the wholesale trade requires adaptability. The impact will be visible in warehouse space and automation, delivery equipment, data systems, and organisation of work. Smaller lots of goods flow at a faster speed at both the point of departure and supply side.

Integrated ERP systems can meet the needs of all omnichannel activities. Modern ERP systems support stock management, assortment management, delivery and in-house warehousing, acquisition optimisation, e-commerce, customer relationship management and customer-focused forecasting.

The best competitive edge? Outstanding service. Here is how to achieve it:

Security of supply
Provision of maintenance services
E-commerce sales and delivery operation and management
Combining different products or raw materials into new packages
Productising in-house solutions

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Packing optimisation for efficient operations

Packing optimisation provides significant cost benefits. Modern solutions can be used for order collation at stores and warehouses.

Significant cost benefits with order packing optimisation

In autumn 2014, we conducted a study on the state of omnichannel commerce in Finland. Regarding order packing: we found it is not conducted efficiently using modern solutions. Only half of respondents had implemented packing optimisation. In the majority of cases, packing optimisation was used to support traditional single channel retail trade.

Use Pick-to-Light systems to manage back office inventory for online packing

Light-directed order collation systems allow operators to use a barcode to send products to a light list based on the quantity to be collated and a selected destination. A light illuminates above the item to be selected; the operator confirms the selection on a PC, which then sends a signal to a module that puts out the light.

Pick-To-Light (PTL) ensures flow-through shelving maximises packing efficiency and optimises lot calculation. Lights clearly indicate products and quantities to be packed in the correct places – reducing possibility of error.

PTL technology can also be used in Put-to-Light product collection trolleys: operators can simultaneously assemble orders for several different customers.

Pick-To-Light order packing solutions

Order packing for small-scale e-commerce sites can be carried out using mobile lists and digital shelving displays that indicate the location of a desired product in the shelving system. For example, Pricer’s latest electronic shelving displays have a light signal that can be activated to serve store operators.

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