Category Archives: Making Money

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 By replacing an outdated paper-based receiving process with a paperless one and implementing hands-free voice picking, Jensen was able to reduce weeks of training down to a matter of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.

Lowered Cost of Vendor Managed Inventory

Intermec CS40

The cost of implementing vendor managed inventory (VMI) in a distribution business isn’t always prohibitive. But it does require businesses to trust their customers to use hi-tech equipment (like handheld scanners) that they provide as a part of the VMI service.

Vendor managed inventory allows clients (like yours!) to place replenishment orders with your warehouse using nothing more than a handheld scanner. Your customer can simply walk around their storeroom and scan the items that they need to order from you. The order is then wirelessly delivered to your ERP.

While many businesses are comfortable providing handheld scanners to customers for this purpose, the upfront cost of purchasing the scanners is a major factor in deciding whether or not to offer VMI services.

However, as hardware costs drop, so does the cost of implementing VMI in your distribution business. And the cost of VMI-compatible hardware IS dropping! We’ve  performed competitive analyses on available hardware, and we’ve got great news: VMI is more affordable than ever.

So, how much does VMI cost? Total costs will vary widely, but the cost of new handheld computers is rapidly dropping, which means that VMI is now a more affordable option for small and medium-sized distribution businesses who want to offer VMI capabilities to their customers. Previous estimated costs for handheld scanning computers were upwards of $3K per unit, but PathGuide now offers the Intermec CS40starting as low as $1,250!

That’s right – $1,250.

The Intermec CS40 is designed for mobile field workers who need robust equipment that can stand up to a warehouse environment (better than, say, a smartphone). The CS40 helps deliver Latitude’s VMI functionality at a reduced cost, so smaller business can still take advantage of enterprise-level services for their clients and partners.

PathGuide is excited to offer this robust equipment as a part of our VMI module – contact us today to find out how vendor managed inventory can give your distribution business an edge over the competition.

Call us today at 1.888.627.9797 and we’ll determine if Latitude WMS is right for you.

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