Whether you are an eCommerce reseller or a major vendor supplying goods and services across the globe, tracking your inventory is essential for business prosperity. However, this process is incomplete or limited without supply chain automation tools helping to keep all tabs on available inventory, warning about short supplies or informing about new shipping requests in the almost hand-free mode. This post is going to tell you how you can use the power of automation in regard to supply management.
Six stages of supply management
But before we begin, let us recall what a supply chain consists of. Experts from APICS, a non-profit institution gathering supply practitioners from all over the world, divide this process into six supply chain stages: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, Return, and Enable. You can read more about the developed Supply-chain operations reference (SCOR) model to get the details at each phase.
At the first stage, companies decide whether to outsource manufacturing or manufacture on their own. Planning also involves building a network of manufacturing facilities and their mapping with warehouses, defining logistics to organize effective transportation flows between sites and assessing how to improve the overall supply chain and its management. This part of the work can be perfectly designed by people without referring to automation. So, we won’t focus on planning to leave freedom for your creative entrepreneurial mind and background.
At the second, the sourcing stage, sources are selected and vetted, contracts are signed, and delivery is scheduled. At this moment, when payments to suppliers and managing inventory are involved, an e-tailer should take care of inventory tracking and payment processing software. Having a convenient platform in place becomes here critical to ensure timely and effective dealing with all the financial and legal issues.
Stage three – Make – is devoted to scheduling production activities, testing products, packing and release. In the third stage, your supply automation tool assists in managing performance, storing data and ensures regulatory compliance.
At the fourth, delivery, stage automating supply management will help you in processing customer inquiries, managing warehousing and inventory, or arranging payments with a service provider to manage who will commit these tasks for you. The right software will ensure that invoicing is accurate, payments are received, and taxes are thoroughly withdrawn.
Stage five deals with returns. This activity is associated with managing all returns including authorizing returns, scheduling product shipments, providing refunds or replacing defective goods. Make sure your selected platform has the in-build return merchandise authorization (RMA) feature.
Finally, Enable, the sixth stage of the effective inventory management process, tells us about making all the above stages work as a seamless workflow. Without an inventory or warehouse platform, it would be less convenient to take care of all actors and steps within the long supply chain.
Benefits of supply chain automation
That was a brief look at supply chain management fundamentals. Now, let’s examine some reasons for considering supply chain automation in your well-established eCommerce online store or marketplace.
When one mentions the word ‘automation’, it is usually meant that some activity is conveyed to algorithms to replace humans. In fact, the software can only help and take the routine of the supply chain managers who can use it to manage warehouses, distribution, logistics, labor costs, inventory levels, and stocking strategies with guaranteed data accuracy. Automated data processing systems are devoted to making the entire staff’s work easier as many of the above processes are time-consuming and prone to human errors (take the inventory management or order processing as examples). That is the main and most obvious reason why supply chain automation can bring a big deal of benefits to your business. Other advantages are listed below:
- Higher productivity and customer satisfaction;
- Greater accuracy and reduced turnover times;
- Opportunity to market your high-performing business to a larger clientele.
The major component of the supply chain management which can benefit from automated software is warehouse management. The larger your business and inventory are, the harder it is to take care of everything without making human errors along the way.
5 Warehouse Management Systems to integrate with your CS-Cart Shopping Platform
When running your eCommerce business on CS-Cart which is a merited shopping cart software for online stores and marketplaces, you can think about extending its great shipping, payment, and RMA in-built features with a warehousing tool. Here, we collected the best agencies according to GetApp, an online recommendation resource by Gartner Company, that deals with warehouse management platforms. All the mentioned platforms can be integrated with CS-Cart via APIs:
Reviewed by 188 users: 4.4 / 5
The software is available for Europe, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United States.
Users appreciate it for good customer support, live updates, easy connection with other platforms, features provided by default (multi-currency, ability to view customers’ country in the order overview, templates to create invoices and export data, simple work with dropshippers and dealers)
Cons: missing a listing tool, need for better analytics tools, complex and hard in learning.
Reviewed by 94 users: 4.16 / 5
Is best for intelligent distribution. The platform markets are Canada and the United States. E-tailers like this app for easiness of getting the basics, straightforward management, frequent updates, wide product types, barcode scanning feature, customizable packing slips and ability to attach documents to transactions.
Cons: bulky navigation, poor UI, not quite adapted for mobiles, slow support service.
Reviewed by 21 users: 4.43 / 5
It is an end to end eCommerce growth platform best fitting the US markets. Users like this software for a plethora of features provided by default, good product image management, reporting, inventory management, and shipping. At the same time, reviewers claim the software for being complex and difficult to learn.
#4. SnapFulfil WMS
Reviewed by 17 users: 4.03 / 5
Cloud-based warehouse management system that markets Europe, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States.
Reviewers love the app for user-friendliness and easiness to use but would like to have more features out of the box such as printing labels in bulk.
Reviewed by 4 users: 3.88 / 5
Cloud Warehouse Management Software marketing Europe, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United States.
Users estimate it for a clean user interface and caring customer support but don’t like limited inventory movements.
So far, there is no perfect software solution for all business purposes, but supply management solutions combined with your CS-Cart shopping platform can make your inventory and supply chain tracking better and better, removing toil and reducing human errors to help you make informed decisions based on real-time data about inventory.
We’ve been integrating third-party systems for CS-Cart for +14 years. You can trust the experience of our certified developers!