Can digital transformation be done on a small budget? The answer is yes.
For small to medium-sized manufacturers and distributers, the advantage of digital technologies is that they can be built up over time, with each investment enabling the next.
Although adoption of Industry 4.0 on the African continent is lower than in the developed world, the impact that smart technologies can make at a socio-economic level – by saving money and increasing efficiency – is being widely discussed.
The past five years have accelerated changes in the logistics industry, pushing up the demand for faster delivery, omnichannel ordering and multi-channel delivery options, and increased order and product trackability.
In Africa, online retail revenue is estimated at around $20 billion annually, which is only 3.5% of total retail sales.
“To meet the needs of this burgeoning sector, a warehouse management system (WMS) requires integration with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) to enable data exchange, order processing, accurate inventory management, demand forecasting, enhanced reporting, improved customer experiences, cost efficiency, and more,” says Andre Adendorff, Director of Presales, SEIDOR in Africa.,”.
“Integration ensures that warehouse operations are synchronised with broader organisational processes, facilitating accurate insights, streamlined workflows, and better decision-making across the supply chain.”
Grappling with the complexities of more extensive logistics systems can be daunting for SMBs. Hence the need for warehouse solutions that cater to this market. They need solutions that are easy and quick to implement.
The right solution can drive digital transformation at operational level, yielding several key benefits:
- Moving from manual and offline systems to real-time tracking of inventory
- Realtime visibility into inventory levels
- Warehouse layout- and bin management
- Elimination of business process waste and increased processing accuracy
- Compliance and security
- Alignment of digital initiatives with business objectives
- Increase in overall customer service levels
- Creation of an analytics environment that enables data-driven decision-making “To find the best fit, SMBs need to look to trusted solution providers,” Adendorff says. “Tried and tested digital transformation solutions are quick to implement, easy to onboard and use, and offer an accelerated ROI. Forward-thinking African and South African manufacturers and distributors are looking to adopt world-class standards in their warehouses to enable accuracy in tracking of inventory movements within the ‘four walls’.”
Digital transformation is a journey toward creating an entirely new business, he adds. The best digital transformation solutions will support end-to-end warehousing requirements, including:
- Procure-to-pay cycles
- Order-to-cash cycles with omni-channel sales support
- Item placements and put-away rules
- Production issues for raw materials
- Receipt finished goods and manage work-in-progress stock
- Quality control
- Inventory counting
- Batch- and serial number entry
- Configurable label printing
- GS1-128 (UCC/EAN-128) standardisation
- Intelligent devices and cloud-based services and applications
How can mid-size companies traditionally shorter on resources tackle such an initiative?
“Start by assessing the current environment, processes, and systems in use,” says Adendorff “Next, establish a committee that will embrace the initiative and ultimately be the owner from start to finish. Project assessment, evaluation, and planning are key.”
“Post implementation, SMBs need to consider further warehouse optimisations as part of the digital transformation journey.”
As an example, integrating warehousing solutions alongside SAP Business One, SMBs can digitise their warehouse management processes, improve efficiency, accuracy, and visibility, and ultimately enhance their overall warehouse operations.
“It is important to remember that digital transformation is not only about technology. It encompasses a total shift in organisational culture, processes, and mindset.”
“The essence of digital transformation lies in reimagining and reinventing business models, workflows, and customer interactions to leverage technology’s full potential,” says Adendorff.
“SEIDOR Africa transforms the logistics processes into finely-tuned operations that drive productivity and profitability in the supply-chain.”
“A warehouse management system fast tracks the digital transformation journey and core warehouse functionality allowing for speed, agility, traceability, and compliance while remaining adaptable,” he concludes.