Warehousing and Distribution Trends

Posted by Barloworld Logistics on 29 Apr 2022 4:45:00 PM

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Warehousing and distribution are no longer a ‘fixed’ part of the supply chain and have to adapt as the global economy becomes much more fluid due to e-commerce and other factors. We take a look at new flexible warehousing options.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

In the past, warehouses and outlets/end users were generally in a fixed location. Large retail chains relied on a single storage facility from which to supply all their outlets. The same applied to smaller businesses–they had one or two outlets and managed their warehousing and distribution from a single location, including imports and local production.

As e-commerce and online orders became more popular, many of these businesses had to adapt. In some cases, they opted for a wider warehousing network, a more robust distribution system or a combination of both.

Then COVID-19 shook up the entire global supply chain and this critical part of the global economy had to adapt almost overnight. This resulted in many changes throughout the warehousing and distribution industry and changed the way many businesses store and transport their products.

1. Bringing Your Supply Chain Closer To Your Customer:

Due to COVID-19, bringing the shipper's supply chain closer to the end-user, such as reshoring and nearshoring, has become a smart fix. This article explains these in detail, but in a nutshell:

  • Offshoring by definition is the process of moving operations, and or services, overseas to capitalise on the cost benefits offered by certain geographies. The boom in Asian economies has resulted in everything from manufacturing to IT support being handed off, and while this may have a cost benefit in terms of price-per-item produced, there are many factors to consider before deciding to move offshore.

  • Nearshoring refers to the outsourcing of processes to countries nearby–often within the same continent or even sharing a border. The benefit of nearshoring is that, in the main, such relationships benefit from shared time zones, cultures and languages, as well as lower transportation costs, but are still susceptible to fluctuating exchange rates and import tariffs.

  • Reshoring is the process of returning the production and manufacturing of goods back to the company's original country. Reshoring is also known as onshoring, inshoring or backshoring.

Barloworld Logistics works closely with all its customers to find the most cost-effective and efficient solutions for their business, especially during volatile circumstances.

2. Digital transformation:

Adoption of technologies such as digital warehouse management systems (WMS) is a crucial trend. No matter the size of your business or warehousing needs, you need to accurately track all product storage and deliveries. This reduces the risk of errors, delays and theft. Digitising your system will also help you predict consumer trends regarding your specific products.

This post gives excellent insight into how you can create a reliable digitised supply chain to benefit your business: https://blog.barloworld-logistics.com/warehousing-the-future-all-tech-and-no-people

3. Comprehensive Transport Management Services are the future

Anyone who has managed a supply chain–no matter the size–knows that even the smallest mistake can have expensive repercussions. For this reason, most businesses are turning to Transport Management System (TMS) solutions.

At Barloworld Logitics, the TMS team begins by understanding your holistic business and supply chain needs. This is followed by designing the optimal network configuration, strategic sourcing, planning, optimising and managing the nationwide distribution of your goods. In addition, TMS manages everything from daily administration to analysing trends, providing business intelligence and insight, which in turn, enables an environment of continuous improvement. It is the ultimate supply chain management solution.

4. Fit-for-purpose warehousing

Fit-for-purpose warehousing is the modern supply chain solution. Gone are the days when you rented any warehouse and tried to keep things in order. In this digital age the turnaround times are faster, storage requirements are stricter (especially with consumables) and it just makes more sense to create a warehouse space that works for you.

Barloworld Logistics helps its customers design their warehouse space to suit their product needs and to accommodate their specific operations. Your digital warehouse system must sync with the rest of your digital supply chain management system and everything becomes much easier to manage. Again, this is the best way to improve outputs, reduce costs and mitigate risks.

5. Agility is here to stay

The pace of modern business means that you need agile and flexible solutions in order to quickly adapt to market changes. Staying agile is the only way to stay competitive.

And this is where you need the experts because designing an agile supply chain requires constant research and quick changes in order to stay ahead of the game. Over the past few years, Barloworld Logistics has assisted customers with everything from complete supply chain overhauls to installing bespoke digital solutions.

Every supply chain is different and you need a warehousing and distribution partner that can engineer your supply chain to optimise processes and achieve tangible cost savings.

6. Variable model approach

Customers are moving away from the traditional business model of owning ‘walls’ and having to pay a fixed rate for space that is not always fully utilised to a variable model where they only pay for the space used. This move to an asset-free supply chain is very dependent on using technology to effectively increase efficiencies whilst driving down operational costs but, at the same time, it also passes the risk on to the warehouse service provider to ensure that their assets are always fully utilised.

Our aim is to design and manage or operate customised warehouse solutions that deliver bottom-line benefits by helping you to be more productive, your organisation more efficient and your business more agile.

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