In recent years, arrival expectations for items ordered online have shifted considerably. In the past, the standard "five to seven business days" was an acceptable amount of time for people to wait. However, because Amazon and other e-commerce companies have bumped that expected window down to just two days, more companies now have to scramble to meet expedited delivery demands.

Moreover, consumers aren't satisfied with receiving their items sooner than they did in the past. They often don't want to pay for shipping at all, according to JP Wiggins, vice president of logistics at 3Gtms. With this in mind, logistics and manufacturing executives would be wise to invest in a warehouse management system that can effectively handle modern delivery demands in ways older options cannot. If companies want to pivot to meet those new consumer expectations, they will likely spend a considerable amount of money. By having a management system in place, it may be possible to streamline shipping and other aspects of the business to free up some money for the bottom line.

How can facilities achieve greater efficiency?
The kinds of warehouse management systems that include transportation or shipping management in their architecture streamline the process of determining the most efficient and cost-effective ways to send packages, Wiggins noted. This feature may be particularly important for companies that deliver their own goods to customers because transportation management can also find the most efficient routes for delivery of multiple drop-off points.

Another issue to consider when trying to catch up with modern conceptions of how e-commerce shipping should work is that it's vital to strike the right balance between labor, equipment, order, and inventory needs on an ongoing basis, according to Adam Kline, director of product management for Manhattan Associates, a logistics software developer. Here, too, warehouse management systems can help companies meet those objectives by determining the best way to avoid having too much or too little of any of those pieces at any given time. And because e-commerce has effectively made distribution a 24/7 business, automating as much of the order processing portion as possible becomes important to ensuring everything works efficiently during normal business hours.

Figuring out complicated problems
Depending upon the type of business in question, there may be other complexities that warehouse managers need to overcome throughout the course of any given week or month, according to Kirk Anderson, vice president of Snapfulfil. Here, too, modernizing is vital. It's important to continually assess how warehouse management and enterprise resource systems are operating and meeting companies' specific requirements. If inefficiencies start to crop up, looking at why that's happening and what can be done to address it will go a long way toward ensuring ongoing success.

And while these types of additional investments may come with upfront costs, it's crucial to note that they often pay for themselves over time by making facilities run more smoothly and aiding in decisions that can likewise save money in the long run.