The Changing States of the Fulfilment Industry

By Ian Hart
Changing States Of The Fulfilment Industry

I recently wrote about the impact of Global economic events on Black Friday and, what was clear from this was that the retail and wholesale fulfilment industry is heavily impacted by buyer behaviour - no surprises there.


The Retail and Wholesale performance cycle


However, when buyer behaviour is inextricably linked to economic performance, and economic performance is influenced by the success of the retail and wholesale sector, then we end up in a vicious cycle that’s hard to break out of. If this was written as an excel formula, you’d get an error and told you can’t have a formula that’s trying to calculate itself! Unfortunately, though it’s not an excel formula and so businesses must find ways to break the cycle and continue to be successful.


Confidence in hitting revenue targets and keeping costs under control are both critical and difficult to do. Particularly if you don’t have good visibility of changes that will impact you. Even if you do have good visibility, it’s still conceivable that something may happen which you didn’t expect and so, having an ability to rapidly adapt is also key.


So what can your business do, to remain successful?




Productivity is one of those measures that gives you a great benchmark as to a business’s effectiveness to ride the waves and come out smiling the other side. At least the Office of National Statistics seems to agree anyway.


When you consider that productivity is calculated as a ratio between the output volume and the volume of input; you can see that more productive businesses will share the following similar characteristics which make them successful:

  1. They’ll be more profitable; so able to absorb adversity more easily;
  2. They’ll have more time to spend ‘looking up’ and spotting any (potential) challenges that need to be navigated.


How can you achieve high productivity?


Understanding how much different tasks cost is a good starting point. Using data to do this is also a good idea.


In the old days you’d have to follow someone around with a stopwatch making notes on how long it took them to pick an order, or to book in some stock. Nowadays however, if you use a warehouse management system to digitalise the tasks people are doing, you can use Analytics platforms to work out how long things take.


Digitalising the tasks has probably helped your productivity a lot by this stage already; for example, not printing off pick lists and instead using a mobile scanner to pick the items whilst on the move.


Now you’re in the world of digitalisation, you’ve opened further opportunity to increase your productivity even more. What if the system you chose could also manage the priority of the orders you’re receiving and automate the process of creating the shipping labels, tracking, and commercial documents? No more time wasted manually doing those tasks, and also no more wasted cost from errors made during this part of the process.


This is where we feel we add most value with Mintsoft, enabling your business to be more productive; therefore, be more profitable and able to grow in a challenging environment.


What does the future look like?


Is that where productivity improvements stop? We don’t think so, and it doesn’t look like you do either.


We’ve seen more and more demand for outsourcing elements of the fulfilment process, either through 3PLs or in the case of Amazon; FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon). But also, now network based approaches to fulfilment such as micro fulfilment.


It’s clear the future of wholesale and retail fulfilment rests on continual innovation and investment in maximising productivity.


So, whilst you’re looking at ways to make increase your own efficiency through accessing approaches that enable reduction of cost through scale; we’re looking at how we can take technology to the next stage to increase your productivity even further.


How about rather than having to look through all that data in the analytics program to try and work out how many staff you need on a given day, or how much inventory you should have available as a minimum; you could just get a machine to do that for you. You could even get the same algorithm to trigger the reordering of more stock or posting an advert for additional shifts available.


It doesn’t just have to be using machines to predict and automate tasks though; there’s also huge productivity gains from enabling users to consume technology in a more flexible and intuitive way.


Productivity can be improved just by making people feel good about the thing they’re doing. Visualising the layout of your warehouse and providing overlays to see which parts of the warehouse are picked most frequently from; or allowing users to communicate and share information through chat interfaces that can translate to native languages (if working internationally), are just two examples of this.


These are all examples of the types of ways in which we’re exploring using technology to drive further innovation and productivity into the sector we care so much about. Here at Mintsoft, we are always looking to improve our software and provide the features you want and need to be as productive as possible.


What’s the future of Mintsoft?


You can discover more about the future of Mintsoft and its upcoming development by watching our Future of Mintsoft webinar.


If you’re not currently using Mintsoft and would like to learn more, please book a demo with one of our product experts.

Ian Hart
By Ian Hart Senior Product Manager

Ian is Head of Supply Chain Products at The Access Group, looking after a host of ERP products, including Mintsoft. He has extensive experience in software products, which he uses to sculpt Mintsoft into the industry’s go-to platform for all its order management and warehouse management needs. Ian is always looking ahead to drive Mintsoft forward for its customers and create a stand-out solution.