Dry January warehouses can benefit from WMS boost
Health conscious consumers have turned Dry January into one of the fastest growing food and drink trends. Given that a large number of the brands serving the LoNo (low or no alcohol) drinks market are artisanal and relatively small-scale producers, coping without warehouse management system (WMS) software can be very tricky.
Have you cut down or eliminated alcohol after a very merry Christmas? You’re certainly not alone, after too much festive merriment comes a time to reflect and renew, especially when it comes to our health. As such, Dry January is big business these days, with large established drinks manufacturers extending their brands to cater for the growing zero-alcohol market such as Heineken’s 0.0 and Carlsberg’s 0.0 beers and newer artisanal brewers such as Big Drop Brewing, Athletic Brewing and Drynks Unlimited gaining significant market traction with their low-abv and no-alcohol ranges.
Increasingly health conscious consumers have turned Dry January into one of the fastest growing food and drink trends – along with adopting a plant-based diet for Veganuary. Given that a large number of the brands serving the LoNo (low or no alcohol) drinks market are artisanal and relatively small-scale producers, maintaining quality standards and coping with seasonal peaks and troughs can be tricky without warehouse management system (WMS) software.
Beginning in 2013 with 4,000 people, Dry January has grown rapidly with 4.2 million people in the UK going alcohol-free in January 2019 according to a YouGov poll. There is even a Dry January app to help people meet their goals. Many will continue with their LoNo regimes after feeling the benefits. Sales of no alcohol and low alcohol drinks are growing 57% each year. Younger consumers – Gen Z in particular – are less inclined to drink alcohol compared with other generations, like millennials and Gen X. Some might argue that’s because they are too busy with their social media centric social lives? Regardless, non-alcoholic beer brands are growing at a faster rate than their alcoholic cousins and LoNo producers are tipped to become the drinks giants of tomorrow. To take advantage of the market opportunity, these manufacturers will need to ensure their supply chain processes are designed to be as efficient as possible.
How can a WMS support LoNo drinks manufacturers?
Without a WMS, some of the common problems LoNo and artisan drinks manufacturers will encounter are:
- Relying on time consuming and unwieldy spreadsheets to store sales orders and operational data;
- Rapid growth in the number of SKUs, as more products are developed to satisfy growing demand;
- Reliance on seasonal workers to cope with peaks in demand during busy periods like Dry January;
- Inadequate raw materials stock rotation processes, poor ingredient and finished product traceability and patchy quality control;
- Frequent, costly picking mistakes, which affect customer satisfaction levels;
- Inability to identify where stocks are located or to efficiently manage replenishment processes, which impact inventory controls.
Introducing a WMS to automate and improve efficiencies will have a huge positive impact on smaller, artisanal food and drinks manufacturers. For instance, a leading WMS like Indigo WMS will automate the management of incoming raw materials and finished goods, plus improve sales order processing.
This was the case at one of Indigo’s drinks customers which saw a fourfold increase to the range of products offered and now ships over 850 different SKUs, making warehouse management significantly more complex. Before implementing Indigo WMS the company was still working with paper processes and finding it time consuming and admin intensive to keep track of operations given the product volumes being sold. Using WMS software to control warehouse operations, finished goods put away and dispatching becomes much more efficient and LoNo manufacturers can achieve a higher proportion of ‘on time in full’ (OTIF) shipped pallets, which is critical for customer satisfaction.
Traceability is another important consideration for LoNo manufacturers, using a WMS, each unit item produced can be tracked with a unique lot code identifier, denoting the exact line, date and time of production. Indigo WMS helps to support traceability by capturing lot code information, from the moment raw materials arrive and are assigned to a particular production run, tracing both ingredients and the finished product right through to the end customer.
Ultimately, using a WMS enables LoNo drinks manufacturers to take full advantage of market opportunities and grow, without having to grow warehousing headcount. All data is available in real time, so warehouse management have a single view of operations at any time and can make the best possible use of resources. Orders can be processed more accurately within a shorter space of time, which helps to better control peaks and troughs in demand and long-term labour costs.
Are you a LoNo drinks manufacturer and thinking how to enhance warehouse efficiency beyond Dry January?
Contact Indigo for independent advice on how a warehouse management system could become integral to your business growth.