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Distribution Software & Warehouse Outsourcing
When just-in-time delivery took hold in America in the 1980s, time took on a new importance in inventory management. With the advent of the web in the 1990s, the possibility of real-time information being shared up and down the supply chain opened up. And when the web was connected to back-end systems and companies began to outsource more production, the possibilities for inventory automation became very real and quite necessary.

Due to corporate outsourcing and downsizing trends, suppliers are being stuck holding considerable amounts of inventory. To retain business, most do hold it and they assume the risk, but now they're asking for more information so they can conduct more efficient planning for their own logistics. Their customers are responding by giving advance knowledge of sales promotions and sharing forecasts. Also, there have also been more-sophisticated optimization algorithms developed to simulate inventory maintenance in complex supply chains.

Real-time communication throughout the supply chain is critical to an efficient operation. Companies must leverage information access and system integration to give them the visibility and speed they need to keep pace with the growing demands of eCommerce. When a large, global supply chain, with all of the internal connections and supplier connections and integrations, is outsourced to a supply chain service provider that handles many such customers, what can ensue is a tangled, three-dimensional spider web of integrations, schedules, and potential headaches. Inthis situation, 360-degree visibility up and down the supply chain isn't just nice in such a situation--it's a requirement.

One particular global supply chain outsourced service provider is a company that handles everything from design and consulting to warehousing, information management, and e-commerce support. Their biggest challenge is to be able to provide visibility across the whole supply chain, ranging from their clients suppliers all the way through to the outbound distribution sources. They add value by providing visibility across many different companies and in-transit goods in order to provide their clients with a picture at any point in time of what is happening in their supply chains. Customers want to reduce the amount of goods in their supply chains, and the company succeeds when it helps them reach this goal.

Where are distribution software and warehouse outsourcing headed? The key drivers are the need for all parties involved. This includes suppliers to planners to warehouse personnel to customers to investors. These groups need to have access to the same information in real-time. That way, everyone's on the same page and the potential for catastrophic misunderstandings is diminished. In particular, what's driving manufacturing companies today is the need to reduce the total cost of doing business with their suppliers, and that includes inventory and operational costs.

Companies that use these high-tech tools will continue to focus on the integration and efficiency of their suppliers. They will also find ways to bring investors into the real-time information loop. As long as their customers care about speed and costs, theyll be driven to watch inventories carefully. And companies will continue to leverage information access and system integration in order to give them the visibility and speed they need to run their warehouses and enhance overall business profitability.



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