Logistics Software Aids in Retail Vendor Compliancy

Vendor compliancy occurs when a vendor meets a set of requirements imposed on it by a buyer of its products. Vendor compliance focuses on making it easier for the buyer to receive goods, process them upon reception, and bring them to store shelves, where applicable. Unfortunately for manufacturers, the most complex compliance standards are usually handed down by companies that have the largest buying power, a fact that causes some companies to question whether the money necessary to implement the standards would be worth the profits that resulted from doing business with an entity. In the long run, adapting business standards to meet compliance standards is almost always beneficial, as nothing can replace the selling power of having large contracts with major companies and retailers. However, affording the infrastructure necessary to facilitate compliance can still be a problem in the short run.

Retail Vendor Compliancy and Logistics Software

When you look at a major buyer’s retail vendor compliancy scorecard, a rating system that ranks vendors according to their compliance to a number of requirements, it’s often difficult to ascertain how to begin meeting the requirements. However, upon closer inspection, many companies find that a majority of compliance issues, and certainly the most critical ones, are associated with the shipping process, such as product labeling, product packaging, and method of shipment, to name a few. Yet, here there emerges another roadblock for many vendors: how to gain more control over the shipping process through logistics. Most companies receive their shipping logistics from one of three sources: an in-house logistic department, a third party logistics (3PL) provider, or by implementing logistic software, which allows you to become your own logistics provider without possessing logistical expertise.

In-House Logistics

Meeting shipping needs in-house is the traditional preference of companies that can afford to hire their own logistic experts, who typically earn around $80,000 per year. This fact alone prevents many companies from going in-house with their shipping process, as well as the fact that most companies pursue in-house logistic arrangements upon purchasing their own fleet, once and for all ending their dependence on 3PL.

3PL

What you receive from 3PL depends entirely on what type of 3PL provider you contract with: standard 3PL providers, who offer basic shipping services and seldom practice shipping logistics as a core practice; service developers, who offer more specialized services but not a comprehensive approach to the shipping process; customer adapters, who manage an existing shipping process but don’t propose new solutions; and customer developers, who manage the shipping process and do propose new solutions. For vendor requirements, customer developers make the most sense. But you can receive the same level of focus through logistic software at a fraction of the cost.

Logistics Software

Also referred to as freight transportation software, logistic software is priced as a software as a service (SAAS) offering, making it less expensive than other logistic options. What this means for vendors is less money spent on meeting vendor requirements, and an annual reduction in shipping expense that can be delegated toward other compliance needs. After using freight transportation software for one year, most companies experience a 10 percent reduction in shipping expense that increases in years following.

Supply Chain Management – Software-as-a-Service

Is spending thousands of dollars to purchase supply chain software draining your cash flow? Is your software becoming out-of-date quickly after purchasing it?

Are you investing too much time programming supply chain software to make it work right? Are you continually having problems keeping software updated and working with different versions?

Are you having difficulties creating the supply chain collaboration and visibility you desire with global customers, partners, logistics providers, sales, operational centers and administrative departments?

Are you frustrated not getting the results you were promised from your supply chain software provider? Are you tired of hearing about why the software program doesn’t work?

If you are nodding “YES” to these concerns, don’t feel lonely as most supply chain management executives agree.

Each year exporters, importers and service providers invest millions of dollars and employ thousands of software and hardware technicians hoping to improved productivity and achieve better supply chain management collaboration. Most companies never realized their supply chain management goals. And, rarely does a company attain ROI value from their software technology investment before it becomes obsolete or needs extensive re-programming. One main reason is over-the counter software packages and in-house programmed software is comprised of bits and pieces fitted together without a comprehensive end-to-end business visibility plan.

According to Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, the current global economic crisis will reduce spending on IT products and services by three per cent in 2009. It may not sound much but perhaps this tightening of budgets is what supply chain management executives need to take a serious look at what benefits they are attaining from their current supply chain management software and at what total cost to their company’s productivity and competitiveness.

The affordable, sustainable solution to supply chain management software is Software-as-a-Service, know as SaaS. Software-as-a-Service offers four immediate benefits that makes it very attractive in these economic times: 1) Quick to Implement; 2) Pay-As-You-Go Variable Cost; 3) Scalability to your Requirements; and 4) No Capital Expense.

Consider these Software-as-a-Service benefits that will add value to your supply chain management and company profitability:

o SaaS saves money. No more software installation or maintenance headaches.

o SaaS reduces IT staffing, technology spend, and distractions.

o SaaS provides real-time global supply chain information with on-demand reporting.

o SaaS improves mobility. Desktop / Laptop compatible, no mainframe computer needed.

o SaaS saves deployment time. Get the entire company and all overseas offices upgraded instantly at the same time.

o SaaS allows immediate access to the latest software innovations, logistics supply chain tools and regulatory compliance.

o SaaS encourages supply chain coordination and collaboration. Company departments, customers, vendors, logistics providers and partners can contribute and collaborate in real time. And, eliminate duplicate data entry at your different locations and departments.

o SaaS helps control confidentially. Allocate access permissions based on who needs to know what information. Give your top executives full end-to-end visibility to track and trace, quote pricing, generate performance reports, ensure regulatory compliance, create what-if scenarios and much more.

o SaaS improves network security protection. Built-in global security to defend against malicious threats, hacker attacks and harmful viruses.

o SaaS allows redistribution of IT budget and eliminates tedious paperwork. More time and money available to focus on sales, marketing, customer service improvements and profit to the corporate bottom line.

o SaaS can be integrated into other company software applications and provide seamless end-to-end visibility into your business performance and profitability metrics.

o SaaS provides immediate real time information, statistics and reporting. Enables supply chain management by key performance indicators KPI’s.

o SaaS does not require a large capital expenditure. Pay-as-you-go. Variable monthly fee based on usage.

o SaaS offers scalability. Big and small companies. You can quickly deploy logistics applications and regulatory compliance applications that are urgently needed now to improve your competitive edge and visibility. Add more SaaS features and modules as your requirements expand.

o SaaS can be customization. Quick adaptation to your specific operational, sales, administrative and accounting requirements. Screen views, reports and communication mimics how you want to manage your business and logistics supply chain.

SaaS Software-as-a Service offer the best supply chain management technology at a cost you can afford delivering the results you need to sustain productivity, visibility and profitability. If your current supply chain software isn’t providing you the tools you need to manage on-demand; or not creating the coordination and collaboration you desire; and is more of a distraction and problem than the results, perhaps it’s time to explore Software-as-a-Service Supply Chain Management.

The Benefits of Warehouse Management Software

In its simplest terms warehouse software is an application, often called a warehouse management system, or WMS, that supports the day-to-day operations in a warehouse. Warehouse Management Software solutions enable centralized management of tasks such as tracking inventory levels and stock locations.

It is possible for Management Software systems to operate as standalone applications or to run as one part of a complete Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, system solution.

Before, warehouse software was limited in scope. For the most part, it was simply able to reveal to management where certain stock and products were located within the warehouse. Today, Warehouse Management Software systems are extremely complex and data intensive. In fact, the higher-end systems may include tracking and routing technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, and even voice recognition. Due to this intricacy of operations, the more complete Warehouse Management Software systems often require a knowledgeable IT staff to run them properly. Therefore, initially a system to control movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, the role of Warehouse Management Software gradually evolved to embrace light manufacturing, transportation management, order management, and even complete accounting systems.

The detailed setup and processing within a Management Software system will differ significantly from one software vendor to another. Nevertheless, the basic logic will use a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to stock, where to pick, and in what sequence to perform these operations because the goals remain the same. From the very simplest to the most complex of Warehouse Management Software systems, they have all been designed to provide management with the information it needs to efficiently control the movement of materials within a warehouse in a more efficient and effective manner. Thus, a true Warehouse Management Software system plays a key role in the supply chain with the fundamental objective being to be in charge of the materials in a warehouse -how they move along the chain of production, where they move to and when does this movement occur, and where they are stored when the route is finished. Warehouse management, therefore, includes a certain amount of control over the receipt, storage, and movement of goods -almost always finished goods, to intermediate storage locations or to the customer.

Because Warehouse Management takes charge of the progress of products through the warehouse, a second objective is to keep track of all the associated transactions, such as shipping, receiving, put-away, and picking. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed put-away are keys to this type of software. The systems also direct and optimize stock put-away based on real-time information about the status of bin utilization. It of necessity involves the physical infrastructure, tracking systems, and communication between product stations. In other words, the reason warehouses need and want good, in-house warehouse management software is to have a set of computerized procedures to handle the receipt of stock and returns into the facility, model and manage the logical representation of the physical storage facilities, manage the stock within the facility, and enable a seamless link to order processing and logistics.