UK supply chain operators have spent 2020 between a rock and a hard place; namely Brexit and COVID-19. The effects of the 2016 EU membership referendum have been permeating through an array of industries for some time now, whilst the UK finds its way through the lengthy transition period. Some experts estimate that the ensuing economic uncertainty will have cost the nation £200 billion by the end of this year, with the manufacturing sector set to be amongst those hit the hardest. And in case one giant hurdle wasn’t enough, UK businesses have also had to contend with the challenges brought forth by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
If you are a NetSuite UK customer and you’re wondering how to future-proof your operations, you’re in the right place. Let’s explore some strategies you can consider to make your business more resilient in these trying times.
Cut Costs and Accelerate Accuracy
The UK will exit the EU single market and customs union on 1st January 2021. One of the imminent consequences will be the application of tariffs and additional charges to certain goods travelling in and out of the EU. The first step for any business is to check whether or not this will impact you and forecast how it will affect your balance sheet. Once you’ve done that, you can explore warehouse automation as a tool for reigning in your costs and driving efficiency.
Counting correctly – If you’re currently performing inventory counts manually, chances are you are doing so with a pretty large margin for error. The accuracy of a manual count is compromised as soon as a worker records an item’s quantity, location or name incorrectly. This sets you up for a series of costly consequences, such as the accrual of obsolete stock, or inaccuracies when fulfilling sales orders.
Additionally, manual counts are time consuming and will usually require you to pause all other warehouse activities – which is obviously not productive. Instead, by pivoting to automated cycle counting, you’ll drastically reduce your error rate as every transaction will be validated by a mobile device. What’s more, you won’t have to close the warehouse while you count.
Improve visibility – Not only are manual processes error-prone, they also obscure what’s really happening in your warehouse. If your inventory isn’t recorded accurately as you receive, pick and putaway, you’ll suffer from mis-picks, mis-ships and longer labour hours. Eventually, these will reflect on your balance sheet at a time when you need to keep your costs to a minimum.
Mobile inventory management can help you increase your inventory accuracy to 99%+ by directing your workers through the warehouse, preventing errors and reducing touchpoints. Saving on these costs might be all it takes to protect your margins post-Brexit.
Agile, Not Fragile
COVID-19 has been an ever-evolving situation in the UK. After a decline in cases over the summer, coupled with an increase in retail spending, numbers are unfortunately on the rise again. Since the beginning of the pandemic, challenges for businesses have included:
The only certainty seems to be that there is even more uncertainty on the horizon. How can warehouse automation help your business become more agile and resilient against what’s to come? Let's look at how one UK company is tackling this.
PetShopBowl Sidesteps Demand Challenges With RF-SMART
After implementing NetSuite in 2014, UK e-retailer PetShopBowl knew they needed a solution to keep their inventory in check to meet their projected growth. “It’s quite incredible that we survived as long as we did without a WMS” said Adam Taylor, founder. “We saw cracks in our customer service by not getting orders out quickly enough, and that was a result of our non-digital focus.”
“One of the main reasons we chose RF-SMART is because it’s fully integrated within NetSuite’s environment, as opposed to other solutions”, said Adam. RF-SMART gave the warehouse team real-time, accurate inventory visibility, quickly reducing errors and the time taken to do basic processes.
When the UK government imposed retail restrictions to try and curb the spread of COVID-19, many eCommerce businesses like PetShopBowl saw a spike in demand almost overnight. Luckily, Adam’s team were able to respond to this quickly with the help of RF-SMART. The easy-to-use, intuitive system meant that they could take on and train new staff to process the influx of orders. As RF-SMART directs workers through picking, packing and shipping, the team wasn’t flummoxed by the increase in pace and were able to work efficiently whilst keeping errors to a minimum.
Whilst economic uncertainty has always been unavoidable, the combined impact of Brexit and COVID-19 has made life markedly harder for UK supply chain operators. One thing is clear - the first step towards a more positive future is to evaluate and tighten up your current processes, so that you can respond to market changes faster.
If you’re interested in learning more about warehouse automation and whether it could be a fit for your business, check out other NetSuite UK customer stories, and then get in touch with our UK team.
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