ECONOFOODS, a highly successful provider of frozen and chilled foods plus a wide variety of grocery products, has selected leading warehouse management software (WMS) specialist, CQuential Solutions, to fulfil its warehouse management needs as it expands its distribution network.

ECONOFOODS currently has seven distribution centres and 27 retail outlets that span six provinces in South Africa plus a cross-border operation in Lesotho. “The company employs 1 500 people and services approximately 1 000 foodservice customers monthly from the distribution centres,” says Jan Hendrik Buchner Operational Financial Manager – ECONOFOODS Gauteng & Northwest.

He notes the company was founded in 1996 with the goal of supplying top quality products at wholesale prices and all accompanied by a superior service experience. “We required a state-of-the-art system that could optimise our warehouse operations, drive greater efficiencies and support our growth plans as we expand our distribution network. CQential’s warehouse management system (WMS) fulfilled all of our requirements and was deployed in our Johannesburg warehouse,” says Buchner.

He confirms the deployment of CQuential WMS will serve as a pilot implementation that will eventually see roll-out to all of ECONOFOODS warehouses over the coming 18 months.

CQuential CEO Shaun O’Brien notes the implementation has moved swiftly and successfully and they are now past the initial set-up stage. “We have now moved into a space where the WMS functionality is being tailored to meet ECONOFOODS’ specific requirements.”

O’Brien says the implementation was not without challenges, including:

The CQuential team proposed the following strategic approach to overcoming these hurdles:

Buchner confirms the relationship is ongoing. “CQuential is an integral part of our operation in Johannesburg and thus we view them as a business partner. Moreover, we are looking to build on it with further system developments. This requires frequent interaction between both companies as we continue to roll-out CQuential’s WMS to our warehouses throughout the country,” he concludes.

Fact sheet

Source: IT Web

by Rina Redelinghuys, CQuential WMS Customer Services Executive

Master data is key to the functioning of the warehouse management system. The absence of accurate data will result in the system not being able to perform at an optimal level. The data will also be crucial to the ability to define business rules and workflows across the warehouse. A warehouse management system that has standard templates and a step-by-step user guide will reduce the burden of master data maintenance and setup within your operation.

The types of master data in the warehouse management system:

The benefits of accurate data:

What are the risks associated with poor master data management?

Approach to driving master data excellence:

Master data can be the difference between success and failure. Clean data throughout the business will enable a company to take advantage of new systems and services that have been developed in the market to drive business efficiencies. It will also ensure the business has a competitive advantage in the market and be highly responsive to new ideas and developments in the industry.

In case you missed it – also read: The challenges around warehouse optimisation

For more information contact one of our Business Consultants on 011 712 1300; email info@cquential.com or visit our website www.cquential.com

Warehouse and inventory management are two crucial functions found in most supply chain companies. The competitive landscape is fierce, so it should be every business owner’s desire and ambition to get these two functions as streamlined and automated as possible.

In a recent article by NETSTOCK, they provided much food for thought on using solutions like spreadsheets to manage your inventory and warehouse. They explained why this is not sustainable or scalable for any business that intends to grow. We’ve collaborated on this article with Inventory Management experts NETSTOCK where we unpack symptoms that could indicate it’s time to look for a fit for purpose system in your warehouse and inventory divisions. This article will explore factors to take into consideration when investigating the vast number of tools and applications that are available, so that you can make the right choice for your business.

Identifying need

Let’s start by looking at your current systems and processes.

Inventory Management experts, NETSTOCK suggest that by answering the questions below in relation to what your existing inventory solution does or doesn’t provide, will determine whether you have a need that is currently not being met.

  1. Do you waste capital by over-ordering inventory?
  2. How often do you find yourself out of stock on certain items?
  3. Do you have insight into your obsolete items so you can address ways to get rid of these?
  4. Do you have sight of your sales data?
  5. Do you have sight of your suppliers’ performance?
  6. If you are currently extracting sales and supplier data from your ERP into a spreadsheet, how many hours every month/week does this take your staff to complete?
  7. How do you know when you are low on a stock item? Do you get a system alert? Or find out when your customer is complaining or worse yet when you have lost the customer completely?
  8. Are you able to forecast your demand using statistical analysis, or do you forecast using bits of data and a lot of gut feel? How accurate is that?
  9. Are you able to do forecasts on new items? Or is this a thumb suck?

Now that you have a better understanding of your inventory management needs, let’s move on to look at your current warehouse management systems and see if they meet the mark.

We at CQuential provide some useful questions that you should be asking to help identify whether you have a need for a fit for purpose warehouse management solution.

  1. Do you frequently run out of space in your warehouse?
  2. How do you determine the most suitable storage location when putting away stock?
  3. How do you allocate space? Do you randomly put items away, or do you utilize a method based on turn velocity or another metric?
  4. How do you effectively manage stock rotation within your warehouse? Do you need to write off stock due to expiry?
  5. How quick and accurate are your stock-takes?
  6. How do you track your labor and operator performance?
  7. Do you follow an optimal pick route?
  8. Do you have visibility of your stock across the warehouse? Do you rely on certain individuals to locate stock within the warehouse?
  9. Are you able to fulfill customer expectations the first time around?
  10. How accurate is your picking OTIF Perfect Order rate?
  11. How quick is your stock available to sell?
  12. Are you able to identify stock and track the inventory through the warehouse?
  13. Are you able to track stock down to a bin level/batch/serial?

At this stage you have most likely identified the need for one or both solutions – where to from here? There is a massive selection of available products, so it’s imperative that you have a solid plan in place before you begin. It’s critical to involve all the heads of your divisions, not only your warehouse and inventory management. Sales and marketing will have useful contributions to make, especially on the inventory management system requirements. Collaboration and communication are key.

Product research and investigation

Integration and technology

Your ERP system is the foundation of your finance and operations and should be factored in. Of course, if you are not satisfied with your existing ERP, that is an entirely different scenario, but if you are, you would ultimately want to choose solutions that already have an integration to your ERP. Even if your ERP is an on-premise ERP, it’s wise to consider cloud-based tools when managing your warehouse and inventory. Cloud-based systems not only cut down on your IT expenses, but they give your staff 24/7 access to your operations. As we have all seen with the COVID19 pandemic, being able to carry on business functions remotely is of utmost importance.

Product selection

You have narrowed down your choice of platform to cloud-based solutions and identified the players in the market for these solutions, now you can go deeper into product features, functionality, and capabilities.

By answering the questions below, you should be able to eliminate some products from your list and be left with a few to investigate further.

  1. How long has the product been in the market?
  2. Does said product have representation in your country? Being cloud-based, it’s not critical, but it can be an advantage.
  3. Are there customer testimonials/references?
  4. Are there any 3rd party reviews on software review sites such as G2 or Capterra?
  5. How expandable or scalable is the system?
  6. How often are there new releases or feature updates?
  7. What is the product roadmap for the next 12 months and beyond?
  8. What is the product’s online reputation?
  9. What is the product’s social media reputation?
  10. How is their product priced? How will this impact your business model, i.e., is it priced per user, per location, per company?
  11. What type of help is available? On-demand training videos? Online help?
  12. Are you locked into a long-term contract, or is it month by month?
  13. Is the product intuitive and easy to use?
  14. Is the product able to easily integrate with other solutions within the company?

Finding the right Solution Partner

By now, you probably have one of two possible product offerings that fit your requirements and budget. The next step is to select a Partner that you can work with to provide the implementation, training, and ongoing service and support.

Many product vendors deal directly with the end customer, but if they don’t and instead use a partner network, they should be able to make recommendations. They know their partners’ strengths and weaknesses and can recommend ones they feel would be a good fit for you in your industry and your company culture. If this is not an option, get online and research partners for yourself.

Most partners will have online demos, but consider asking for a personal demo either online or physical if time and location permits. Keep your requirements gathering simple at this stage. A full-blown set of system specifications takes a significant amount of time, effort, and skill to put together. You can delve into the detail later when you have narrowed down your list of options.

Take the following into account and rate them accordingly:

  1. How quick was their response to book a date and time for the demo?
  2. Did they keep the appointment?
  3. Did they conduct a discovery call before the demo to determine your needs?
  4. Did they demonstrate the product according to your needs?
  5. Did they customize your demo to be specific to your business/industry?
  6. Did they answer all your questions and handle any objections?
  7. Are they knowledgeable in the inventory and/or Warehouse management space?
  8. Did they send a personal followup ‘thank- you’ email or call?
  9. Did they follow up a few days later to check-in and see if you need any other information?
  10. What services and technical support do they provide, and how is this charged?
  11. Do they provide training, and what charges are associated with this?
  12. What is there online and social reputation?
  13. How many customers do they have?
  14. Do they have customers in the same industry as yourself?
  15. Are they able to provide you with customer references?

The way the demonstration is handled pre, during, and post, will be a direct representation of what you can expect if you were to select them as your partner. Although this is not a necessity, it will help if your chosen partner has the same outlook towards running a business that you do. How do they approach customers? Are they proactive? How do they communicate? How agile or rigid are they? Do your business objectives align with theirs?

The final step is to firm up on your full set of system specifications. Make sure that these are thoroughly identified and agreed upon and that the partner can deliver on them. Select an employee that will be dedicated to managing the full project. Not only from the implementation and sign off but also from the entire change management process with users and all relevant stakeholders. If you put the right steps in place, with a well-thought-out project plan, there should be few disruptions to your business.

Once your users have settled into the new systems, and you start to see the dramatic improvements in efficiencies as well as the financial ROI and time savings, you will wonder how you ever operated without your new tools and technology.

Talk to us at CQuential and start your journey towards finding the right Inventory and Warehouse solution today.

For more information contact us on 011 712 1300; email info@cquential.com or visit our website www.cquential.com

SA Tyre Distributors selects CQuential

SA Tyre Distributors, the country’s largest passenger tyre wholesaler, has selected leading warehouse management software (WMS) specialist, CQuential Solutions, to provide a solution aimed at moving its warehouse operations in-house while optimising service delivery.

According to Arthur Ledgerwood, head: finance, business development and operations at SA Tyre Distributors, when the company decided to bring its warehouse operations in-house instead of outsourcing, they sought a solution that would position the company to launch new and improved service offerings.

“CQuential’s feature-rich, cloud-based WMS solution and the company’s strategic partnership approach delivered phase one of the solution at our Jet Park warehouse in less than eight weeks, and immediately started delivering business benefits. Offering significantly more than traditional functionality, the system is highly flexible and was ‘tailored’ to meet all of our requirements. The system is integrated with SA Tyre’s accounting system, delivery system and call centre and allows SA Tyre to easily rotate stock, track expiry dates, manage stock levels and reduce shrinkage,” says Ledgerwood.

He adds that with automated and ‘system directed’ picker functionality embedded in the software, all staff on the warehouse floor use mobile handheld scanning devices, eliminating the need for manual and paper-based traditional systems.

According to CQuential CEO, Steve Mallaby, the system is supporting a massive increase in productivity while delivering efficiency, speed and accuracy. “Importantly, this increased efficiency supports SA Tyre’s competitive speedy delivery model. The company is building its competitive edge on its ability to deliver any tyre required by any fitment centres within a remarkably short time frame (as little as 40 minutes from order for fitment centres within an 80km radius of the Johannesburg warehouse, and under two hours for fitment centres within 100km of its Cape Town and Durban warehouses). The CQuential system has cut average picking times from 20 to 40 minutes down to 7 to 13 minutes, which allows the company to make its fast deliveries even faster.”

Mallaby says that what is particularly exciting is that SA Tyre is now positioned as a next generation innovator, poised to enabling the supply chain with innovative new services. “Thanks to the cloud-based digital platform, SA Tyre can build on the solution in future to integrate features such as mobile ordering, CRM and customer alerts.”

Ledgerwood concludes: “We can now leave stock and warehouse management to CQuential and focus on growing our business and delivering world class service.”

Source: BizTech Africa | IT Online

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