For any warehouse-based business, running a single warehouse at peak efficiency is challenging enough. So naturally, running multiple warehouses also means contending with the multi-warehouse challenges that come with it.
Having distributed warehouse locations isn’t the right model for every eCommerce retailer or 3PL. But there’s no denying there are big benefits to expansion. Get more storage capacity, faster shipping, and ultimately more opportunity for revenue.
If you don’t want to give up these benefits, it’s time to plan ahead for multi-warehouse success.
1. Maintaining Consistent Processes
Standardizing business processes is one of the biggest warehouse challenges for multiple locations. This is especially true if you have added new locations in a patchwork fashion.
However, many warehouse operators do whatever it takes to get the warehouse up and running quickly. Long-term best practices and process training can become an afterthought rather than a guiding light. This lack of standardization can add a layer of complexity to your operations over time. But keep in mind that each location is a smaller branch of a larger business, and should function like it.
Multi-warehouse WMS systems like Zenventory that run in the cloud can simplify the effort of standardization. It ensures all warehouse locations operate within the same integrated online platform. You can manage all of your operations in Zenventory, from inventory to POs to shipping and everything in between, whether the task involves a single warehouse in your network or all of them.
2. Managing Inventory Between Warehouses
Inventory management difficulties increase exponentially with the number of warehouse locations.
With a single warehouse, it’s easy to have a bird’s eye view of your inventory, systems, resources, and operations. Everything lives under the same roof and there are fewer variables involved. This isn’t true for multiple warehouse operations, though. With multiple warehouses to manage, new questions will arise:
- If items are in multiple locations, how will we decide which warehouse will fulfill each order?
- Does my shipping strategy take into account delivery times for different regions?
- Is my inventory balanced correctly for meeting regional demand?
- How do I manage the process of moving inventory between warehouses?
Zenventory takes away a lot of the guesswork. It gives users a strategic high-level view across all warehouses. Plus, you can drill down to a low-level view of local inventory and local order trends when necessary. Track inventory by location to gauge current sellable stock levels, reorder points, and par levels. Compare that with recent order data to easily identify when you might need to reposition stock could be useful.
Having this intel at your fingertips ensures you are able to keep inventory stocked where it will have the most beneficial impact. In turn, you can maximize sales while minimizing shipping costs and delivery times.
3. Real-Time Collaboration Between Locations
Today’s warehouse environment relies on real-time visibility. Warehouse teams depend on having the data they need at the moment they need it to avoid backlogs and shipping delays.
Seamless collaboration is usually one of the last multi-warehouse challenges that get solved. Without systems and standardization to unify how each location operates, each one tends to operate in its own bubble.
With Zenventory, however, collaboration is inherent. Data provides real-time insight into stock levels, picking and packing, and cycle counting. You can trust that the data you’re looking at is the most up-to-date information. All locations pull information from the same unified source so there’s no chance that it will vary from one warehouse to another.
4. Optimizing Internal Resources
The more warehouse locations you add, the more customers you can serve to generate revenue. But with each new location, you’re also increasing your potential for waste.
For warehouses, waste can take many forms: payroll hours, cubic storage, and supplies, for example. Waste proliferation can really add up and take a chunk out of your bottom line.
Zenventory’s comprehensive platform can help reduce the potential for waste in several ways.
For starters, it helps you allocate stock strategically. You can maintain direct control over where and how you store your inventory, or you can let Zenventory’s automation do it for you. This way, you can optimize warehouse space in each location and adjust things like payroll and other resources to match local needs.
There’s also the benefit of automation to help save time and fill in gaps left behind in the ongoing labor shortage. Automating away repetitive manual data entry using Zenventory’s simple if/then business rules will allow workers to focus on more important things, keeping productivity high and operating costs low.
5. Creating Seamless Customer Experiences
Arguably the most important multi-warehouse challenges to overcome are those that impact the customer’s experience. Your customers don’t need to know the nuts and bolts of how your warehouse works. They simply expect you to fulfill their orders swiftly and correctly.
This is especially true if you’re a 3PL company, where you have two different customers to consider (your direct client as well as their customer you’re shipping an order to). One way Zenventory solves this challenge is by providing an integrated experience ― for you and your 3PL clients.
Zenventory serves as a central source of truth for clients, no matter where they are located in your warehouse network. Your clients can log into their own portal to view real-time inventory levels, sales, and other data. They gain access to the most critical information without getting bogged down in the details.
With flexible automation rules that route orders to the closest warehouse based on region, clients can rest assured that their orders will be fulfilled from the most efficient point in your warehouse network. Plus, the process is more hands-off for them so they can focus on what they do best ― and so can you!
Overcoming Multi-Warehouse Challenges with Zenventory
Adding more locations will inevitably bring new challenges, but there are plenty of ways to maintain efficiency and offset any negative impacts due to expansion.
Zenventory is built from the ground up to help overcome multi-warehouse challenges and keep your business moving forward and growing upward. Schedule a free demo to learn more!