Omnichannel: the essential management of all stocks, wherever they are located

Ronald Schepers,Sales Director of Reflex Logistics Solutions in the Benelux

The digitalization of commerce, and the resulting omnichannel nature of business, is leading many companies, in both BtoC and BtoC, to initiate projects to reorganize their supply chains and transform their logistics information systems on a global scale. How to accelerate the deployment of new logistics management tools in several countries? Ronald Schepers, Sales Director of Reflex Logistics Solutions in the Benelux, explains.

Omnichannelity: what impact on the Supply Chain and logistics information systems?

To keep up with the evolution of commerce and keep the customer promise, logisticians must restructure and orchestrate all flows; be able to know exactly where stocks are in real time (factories, warehouses, micro-fulfillment centers, points of sale, store reserves, dark stores, etc.); optimize order preparation and returns management; bring warehouses closer to the end consumer to reduce delivery times and their carbon footprint; improve the use of square meters of reserves; automate processes that were previously carried out manually; etc.

This necessarily requires a reorganization of the supply chain, coupled with changes in the logistics information system to be able to manage and orchestrate all logistics processes and flows (store delivery, home delivery, click & collect, ship from store, etc.); to have visibility on all sales, orders, current and forecast flows and to know in real time the stock levels on all storage points. The sanitary crisis, as well as the current shortages of raw materials and electronic components, only amplify the importance of a global management of stocks and logistic flows and the need to put an end to silos, by sales channel.


WMS projects that are increasingly global and concern all storage points

To meet these challenges, software implementation projects to orchestrate and optimize logistics execution are no longer limited to the implementation of a WMS in a central warehouse or in a few countries. To gain global visibility of inventory, deployments now involve all storage points, wherever they are located: factories, central warehouses, local warehouses located in each country, micro-fulfillment centers, points of sale and their reserves, etc.

These global projects require all countries to align on a common vision of what the target solution should be, while respecting local specificities (organizational modes, labor laws, culture, distribution network, etc.). They require the implementation of measures to define the target to be reached, to support the change and to maximize the teams’ adherence to the new solution. Our clients no longer want to waste time writing long specifications before implementing Reflex, our Warehouse (and Store) Management System.


Our methodologies for accelerating the deployment of logistics execution tools

To accelerate the deployment of these large-scale projects and to avoid the “tunnel effect” which leads to excessive adjustments during the course of the project, we propose several methods: Express deployment, a minimum viable product (MVP) and/or a core model.

In the first two cases, the objective is to design, in three to four months, a usable version of Reflex in order to allow the logistics teams (operators and managers) to get to grips with the solution and to discover all its potential, in order to then optimise and/or adapt it according to a logic of continuous improvement. The core model method enables Reflex to be deployed on a first site, then to accelerate its implementation in other sites thanks to a standard configuration that can be adjusted according to the needs and specificities of each country.

With the Express method, our customers have a “minimum” version of the solution and can then upgrade it over time. This is the deployment methodology that we have recommended to BYD, a global manufacturer of electric cars.

The MVP consists of setting up a V0 and then, through successive iterations (sprints), evolving the solution to reach the expected target. This approach was adopted by Bol.com, the leading e-commerce company in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Finally, at Duracell, a manufacturer of electric batteries, we recommended a core model to accelerate deployments: we brought together key users from several countries (Europe, the United States and Asia) to define the target solution. The first two production sites, which manufacture batteries for all of Europe, were equipped with our WMS in just over six months. The other countries then relied on the core model to deploy the solution more quickly in their factories.

In all cases, the Reflex teams provide advice and support during and after the Go-Live, in order to make logistics processes more efficient and enable our customers to reconcile economic performance, respect for the customer promise and reduction of their carbon footprint.