How EWM resolves 3 challenges facing retailers with warehousing stores

Nov 04, 2019
  • operations
  • IT
  • retail
  • SAP

Retail logistics are undergoing significant changes. People are deserting the stores and increasingly migrating to online shopping, so the priority for customers are faster delivery times and lower costs. Consequently, retail companies have started diversifying the processes for their stores, trying to boost the transportation and the logistics operation to obtain faster deliveries. Medium and large stores are having to explore new processes to keep up with these trends.

Cutting the transit time is pushing these retailers to directly prepare online orders at stores nearest to customers and taking advantage of the replenishment process between the centralized distribution centers and stores to reduce the delivery time. Both the distribution centers and stores represent the backbone of these retail logistics, with multiple retailers running EWM in their distribution centers. But in the case of stores it still represents a big challenge, hence why retailers have started exploring this option to reap the benefits of  EWM across all of their logistics sites.

In this article, we share the benefits and the challenges that retailers are facing during EWM deployments into stores that support sufficient storage capacity and require warehousing functionality.

In a typical large retail store, multiple partners interact, receiving the goods from the distribution centers and vendors, and returns from customers undertaking activities such as picking and shipping for B2B, B2C, e-comm and Click and Collect orders. Ensuring goods are available quickly for the customers is the key challenge that all store managers have. Using technology, retail management can mitigate these challenges and improving on these three areas below have a direct impact on their ability to meet demand.

Challenge #1: Coordinating Inbound flow

The retail store is core for multiple inbound scenarios, mainly from vendors and distribution centers.

Deploying EWM in the retail store in the same SAP landscape, the operators can easily process the goods receipts and proceed with the put-away process without any additional repacking or relabeling activities.

Upon the receipt of the packages prepared in the distribution centers, EWM can direct the goods straight from the goods receipt area to the good issue zone to fulfill a Click & Collect order.

If any stock discrepancy occurs at the receipt of goods into the store, it will be easier to book the difference against the carrier or the issuing distribution center by using the appropriate exception codes.

It’s important for vendors to deliver to shops prior to the opening hours to solve this challenge, Dock Appointment Scheduling in EWM supports the ability to fix delivery hours for each vendor.  Store Managers can therefore improve inbound planning so as to allocate the required resources to support the unloading and put-away activities.

In case where distribution warehouses are having to support complex processes dealing with customer returns, moving this operation into the store using EWM, improves the overall operation and customer experience, while reducing overall operating costs.

Challenge #2: Managing the retail picking area

One of the biggest challenges in implementing EWM within retail stores is how to manage the picking area.

Before the opening of the retail store, the operators must transfer the pallets to the picking area, to make the stock available for the end customer.

Managing the picking area in EWM offers first, the opportunity to run the replenishment process to make stock available for the customers and secondly, to harmonize the logistics execution across all the store areas.

The replenishment process can be automatically triggered based on min/max quantity, or including the customer demand (e-comm etc.), as well as manually by any store operator after a visual check of the picking locations.

Uploading sales data from the point of sales (POS) machines multiple times, and then executing replenishment repeatedly during a working shift maybe result in data volume constraints. So uploading large quantities of sales data is not always feasible and in this case the replenishment process might be triggered as required by the sales agent by visually checking the available bin stock.

By managing the picking area in EWM, this allows the harmonization of the logistics execution functions by using the same physical inventory transactions across all the storage types tied to the retail store.

Challenge #3: Simplifying the picking process

Another key reason for managing the picking location in EWM is to provide a more efficient way of picking & packing e-comm orders using the “Pick by Cart and Packing” Fiori Apps.

Standard SAP S/4 HANA allows EWM integration with POS systems using deliveries (2499054 - Posting WPUBON/WPUWBW in Retail POS inbound with EWM: creating delivery is interrupted), but to reduce the complexity and solution footprint, delaware has developed an enhancement to automatically reduce the quantity in EWM without using deliveries

Finally, with SAP S/4 HANA Retail with embedded EWM, the store operators are prompted to adopt those new logistics processes in a more simplified way using the Fiori Launchpad to handle both retail and the logistics processes at the same time.

Why retailers need new technology

The e-comm environment will continue to be a complex demanding challenge for large traditional retailers who need to adapt their processes to allow multiple sales channels. Introducing solutions supported by EWM into retail stores which integrate across their complex supply chain, will enable them to overcome some of these challenges, ensuring that large retailers can react to customer’s demands; ensuring stock availability and that they have resource available to fulfil timely delivery of products at a lower cost.