Sage 50 and Sage 200 are the most widely used set of accounting packages in the UK. At its core, where Sage really succeeds is in accounting and business management. Beyond that, it often looks to add ons to pick up the slack in the other operations, like warehouse management.
The one crippling mistake a Sage user can make, however, is handing over control of their warehouse management to a Sage 50 or Sage 200 add on.
An add on is exactly what it sounds like - an addition to a core piece of software. With the warehouse being such an integral part of any eCommerce business it deserves more than a simple addition.
Simply put, an add on is a seemingly cheap solution that will not be able to offer the kind of service that gives your customers the best experience when buying.
How a Sage warehouse add on under-serves
1) Transaction speed
A client of ours in the skate sports and apparel industry, initially used the Sage 200 warehouse add on but with up to 9,000 orders coming in per day, the software struggled to update the website and marketplaces. The back end processes were very restrictive, limiting the warehouse operators to very basic pick routes that greatly impacted efficiency and was just not scaleable.
To combat this, instead of putting orders through Sage, this company connected their website directly to the warehouse so that stock could be updated immediately. They used ChannelAdvisor for marketplaces which connected to Peoplevox who provided accurate stock figures. On top of this, they were finally able to optimise pick methods specifically designed to handle orders with between 1 and 5 items more efficiently.
2) Returns management
In fast-fashion, the returns rate averages anywhere between 15-25%. With a warehouse management system designed to provide for eCommerce, having a dedicated returns portal makes handling them much easier. Returned items can be scanned against the sales order and, depending on if it’s suitable for resale or not, it can be put back into the available stock or quarantined.
With a Sage warehouse add on, returns cannot be managed nearly as efficiently if they are supported at all. Without a returns portal, it often happens that a sheet of paper is attached to a returned item and placed in a specific location in the warehouse to be dealt with manually when someone is available. This is incredibly time-consuming and the longer it takes for good stock to be made available for resale the more sales opportunities are missed, losing the retailer’s money.
A year in eCommerce is full of peaks and troughs. For a fast fashion company, for example, the summer months often see an increase in orders and so more warehouse staff are required to offer the same excellent customer service as any other time of the year. With a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system dedicated to warehouse management, user licenses can be increased or decreased when necessary and retailers only ever pay for what they need.
With a Sage warehouse add on, however, user licenses are generally fixed meaning that if you need to increase the number of users for a particularly busy time of the year, you cannot reduce it again afterwards. This means that a number of retailers are paying a great deal for licenses that go unused for the majority of the year.
4) User friendly
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a warehouse management system is whether the user interface is simple enough for new operators to pick up quickly. With a sage warehouse add on, the typical solution is to use terminal emulation which transfers a computer terminal’s screen on to a handheld device. Much like viewing the desktop page of a website on a mobile phone, this emulation can look very messy and hard to follow.
In the competitive world of eCommerce, it’s important for companies to be able to train their staff quickly when it comes to peak season. However, if the interface the warehouse operators must use on a daily basis is not easy to understand, training times increase. A women’s undergarment retailer using our dedicated warehouse management system can train new warehouse operators in 15 minutes to pick and pack thanks to the easy to use interface.
5) Productivity tracking
Tracking productivity in the warehouse is not only a good motivational hack for your employees, it also gives you an overview of stock movements and order status. With dedicated warehouse management software, you should have full visibility on how many orders have been picked per person per hour, how fast goods in has been received, and what status each order is currently at, ie. partially or fully allocated.
With a Sage warehouse add on, this kind of tracking is at best very limited to the point that it offers little value when it comes to interpreting what the data means. Collecting this kind of data can get the most out of your warehouse by helping to estimate how many operators you will need when, how quickly orders can be picked which influences delivery cut off times, and even how eCommerce companies should be buying inventory.