Category Archives: Competing with Industry Giants

What e-Tailers Can Learn from Amazon’s Technology Investments

Our partners at Software Advice are always on lookout for ways to help companies compete and find the best tools for their business needs. One of the company’s market research assistants, Forrest Burson, recently published an interesting piece entitled: “6 Ways Amazon Is Changing Supply Chain Management in 2016,” (link). Not only did this article reinforce the view that Amazon is leading the way in terms of logistical speed and efficiency, it also shone a light on the possible future of supply chain management.

With that in mind, we reached out to Forrest for more background into what e-Tailers can learn from the trail that Amazon is helping to blaze. You’ll also find a couple of links back to their content where you can find additional information.

PathGuide: What can smaller businesses learn from Amazon that may help them compete?

Forrest: Amazon is well known for the automated robots it uses in its warehouse, which of course cost a pretty penny to implement on the scale that Amazon does things. So, I’m not sure any small company could replicate that. But, what small businesses can do is automate manual processes through warehouse management software.

PathGuide: So, if SMBs can’t compete on scale, are there any areas where they can possibly beat Amazon?

Forrest: There are some instances where SMBs can have the edge over Amazon, especially if they are a niche retailer. So, one way to keep a competitive advantage is to build up a client base that keeps coming back—offering them deals, always having a stocked inventory and providing a superior product selection.

PathGuide: Amazon is always in the news. Is it important to track what they’re doing?

Forrest: For a lot of small retailers, Amazon is both a competitor as well as a service they rely on, and a channel they might even sell through. It’s critical to keep an eye on what Amazon does because when it moves, the world tends to shake.

 

Competing With Giants

This feature article from the latest issue of Inbound Logistics profiles several small and medium-sized businesses that are using information technology to stay competitive with industry giants. It’s a good read and highlights an important fact about the modern warehouse industry. These days, every distributor is competing with worldwide e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba and Snapdeal. How can small and medium-sized businesses remain competitive without the resources of these huge companies? Customer service is one big differentiator, but there are also many ways that even small companies can use information technology strategically to achieve similar levels of speed, efficiency and flexibility as their bigger peers.

Here are some PathGuide customers who implemented Latitude WMS to solve specific problems and put themselves on even footing with larger industry competitors.

HUB Industrial Supply keeps up with e-retailers like Amazon and Fastenal by focusing on exceptional customer service and just-in-time delivery. After several years of strong growth, executives were concerned that HUB couldn’t keep using small-company processes as it grew into a medium-sized company. HUB chose Latitude to “future-proof” its warehouse, knowing that the WMS would easily scale with them.

Fisheries Supply, located in Seattle, Washington, relies on the local maritime industry for much of its business. They used some of the features in Latitude WMS to build its own will-call system that can have orders ready in as little as 15 minutes. Latitude WMS automatically prioritizes these orders for picking and sends the customer a text message when the order is ready. Fisheries Supply has built a loyal following among local mechanics and boat owners who depend upon this system for its quick turnaround.

One of the specific goals that Jensen Distribution Services had for implementing a WMS was to reduce training time for new employees. By replacing an outdated paper-based receiving process with a paperless one and implementing hands-free voice picking, Jensen was able to reduce weeks of training down to a matter of days, and decreased picking errors by 95%.

C-A-L Ranch, a chain of farm and ranch supply stores, had seasonal spikes in product demand that turned the distribution center floor into a bottleneck. Hiring seasonal labor was not a feasible solution, so Latitude WMS helped C-A-L Ranch be more productive with the same number of workers and get through busy periods without product piling up in the distribution center.