Warehouse inventory management is the process by which stock stored in a warehouse or other storage facility is received, tracked, audited and managed for order fulfillment. Similarly, inventory management is actually all about having the right items available at the right time. These terms are highly essential to meet the customer demand as the demand is liable to shift very drastically during COVID times. The warehouse industry leaders are putting a lot of effort into their business not only to differentiate themselves in the tight market but also to adapt and survive. We are now listing the key trends in today’s warehouse industry and also taking a look at the future.
1. Robotic devices
Robotic devices are playing a major role in warehouse and inventory management in 2021. This trend seems to continue next year, as well. This is partly because of the lockdowns and mostly because of the increasing demand as human workers-only solutions are no longer efficient. It’s no secret that retail giants like Amazon are making use of collaborative robots alongside their human workforce. Therefore we’ll be witnessing more robotic devices in warehouses. Actually robots for logistics management are expected to reach $22.4 billion by the end of the 2021. Even though the robotics create great value and income for warehouses, according to the Annual Industry Report, around 1/3 of supply chain professionals are actively using robotics and automation for their warehouses, inventory, and fulfilment management. But statistics show that robotics will increase shortly. “We have been familiar with working with robots in the warehouse environment for the last 40 years,” says The CEO of Makhina, Mehmet Ali Çalışkan and adds, “But the latest Autonomous mobile robots (AMR) can sense the humans and obstacles around and that’s why become much safer than ever, which makes warehouse companies invest robotics.”
2. Cloud technology
Cloud technology is the new normal. Almost every industry is now shifting to cloud. Thanks to IT workers efforts, It has become a very easy step for warehouses to move into cloud services. It has become the industry standard as the global spending on cloud services grew from US$145 billion (2017) to $332 billion (2021). Morever, the future seems bright for cloud because this number seems to reach $397 billion in 2022 according to Statista. Cloud has become a trend for inventory management because it enables warehouses to work remotely. As a result, warehouses have become much more operational than before. Cloud solutions are also very attractive for investors because they are very flexible and scalable solutions. In short, you don’t pay for hardware but you pay for the service. You can customize the details of this service depending on the business and your goal. If something goes wrong (like another virus or a disaster) you can scale down. If everything works perfect, you can scale up easily within a few hours. Besides, With a cloud based inventory management, you also sign for the privilege of free upgrades. It means your software is never outdated and you can make sure it is the most secure tool on the market.
There is going to be more and more focus on automation. Automation is one of the best tool to keep the costs down. Because of automation, you will be able to quickly find the efficient ways to handle stock and maintain the warehouse. Generally a warehouse is 7/24 operational. It means different shifts will come and go. They will grab the job that was handed by the previous shift. This transition, naturally, requires an enormous amount of paperwork, which causes slow down on the operations. However, using technology like robust WMS (warehouse management system) software can reduce labour costs, eliminate operational issues, and help increase warehouse functionality.
Customers no longer tolerate the delays. They want absolute control during shipping process and the shipping starts in the warehouse. So, Deep learning algorithms can significantly improve product arrival and delivery process. The bigger warehouses can communicate with multiple warehouse locations much quicker thanks to automation.
4. Artificial intelligence
When it comes to warehouses and inventory management, systems with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies contribute a lot to the success of the companies. The warehouses are not only getting bigger but also becoming much more complex to handle. The amount of data is really too huge for an analyst to evaluate. The sensors, scanners, cameras or other smart solutions provide raw data including countless images, videos or figures which requires to be classified and structured. This is where the artificial intelligence and machine learning come handy. They could be used to detect anomalies such as a broken wheel or a defective products or packaging. This will also increase the customer experience as they will receive more quality products with less or no fault at all.
5. Personalization & Customization
It is very essential to have a deep understanding about customer’s buying habits. Because the aim of a successful warehouse inventory management is to make relevant stocks available. Additionally, once you know more about your customers, you can suggest more accurately and turn your data into sale figures. The best way to boost the sales is to analyze the past behavior of your customers. “A customer is usually like a Netflix viewer,” says Çalışkan. “Most of the time they spend a lot of time what to watch. You may not know what to watch next but Netflix does.” Just like Netflix, warehouses will seek into ways of personalization data to boost sales. This data will include detailed information about demographic/persona data for individuals, such as job title or location. Contextual data such as the periods of sales or the devices to buy items will aid warehouse inventory management.