Discover key strategies for omni-channel warehousing success at 40th annual WERC Conference
By Annette Danek-Akey, Senior Vice President of Fulfillment, Penguin Random House
Inc., and WERC 2017 Annual Conference Committee Chair
Whether they’re shopping on their smartphones or tablets—or browsing on desktop
and laptops—consumers are increasingly buying online.
The National Retail Federation estimated that 108.5 million Americans shopped
online this past Thanksgiving weekend, including Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday
and Cyber Monday. Internet Retailer speculated that Amazon.com did $5 billion, or
38%, of all online sales in that same five-day period. Last summer, UPS’ annual
survey of 5,000 online shoppers found that, for the first time, 51% made more
purchases online than in stores.
That’s not to say brick-and-mortar shopping will vanish. In fact, one of the best ways
for traditional retailers to distinguish themselves from online-only retailers is
consumers’ ability to handle, try on and interact with merchandise. Further, the
convenience of “order online, pick up in store” frequently trumps waiting for a
shipment, as does dropping off a return at a store for an instant refund—instead of
the less convenient (and slower) process of shipping the item back.
Regardless of how a consumer shops, retail warehouses and distribution centers
face an increasingly omni-channel marketplace. Meaning they must find new ways to
cope with the profusion of challenges that accompany those multiple channels.
Among them, an uptick in unit-level picking, not just for single e-commerce orders,
but also to replenish stores more frequently with smaller shipments of mixed and
broken-case products. Further, to compete with Amazon, more items must be held in
inventory, even off-season, for the customer hosting a Mardi Gras-themed party in
September, for example.
These challenges, along with a host of others, are being addressed in a multitude of
ways in retail warehouses. Supported by software and automated material handling
equipment, omni-channel facilities are developing new strategies to satisfy the
expectations of both e-commerce and traditional store customers as they compete
with online sellers for sales.
That’s why omni-channel is a key topic at the Warehousing Education and Research
Council’s (WERC) 40th Annual Conference for Logistics Professionals, held April 30
to May 3, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. Among the 80 sessions, several breakout
presentations and Peer-2-Peer discussions address omni-channel challenges, as do
tours of The Container Store, Dillard’s and Walmart distribution centers.
In breakout presentations, WERC Conference attendees will learn:
• How BSN Sports improved its distribution center operations to handle
changing consumer profiles, and to deal with an increase in inventory and
small e-commerce orders.
• Why inventory sharing between e-commerce and retail outlets via an
automated fulfillment system reduced The Container Store’s overall supply
• New approaches to carton optimization, including how to select the optimal
mix of cartons and/or made-to-order packaging, to cut shipping costs.
• Integrative strategies for managing reverse logistics across omni-channel
Further, in Peer-2-Peer discussions, participants will ask questions, share insights
and brainstorm solutions for meeting retail customers’ demands for fast, agile order
fulfillment, and to manage forward and reverse logistics.
Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to discover the latest trends and best practices
at the WERC 2017 Annual Conference. For more information and to register, visit