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3 AREAS TO INVEST IN WAREHOUSE EFFICIENCY

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The logistics industry is entering exciting times. Warehouses, long a relatively static area, now host multiple converging technologies poised to transform the way we do business.

If you want to keep up with the competition, it’s a critical time to make investments in your warehouse operations. To that end, here are three of the most effective areas you can invest in.

 

Warehouse Management

In 2021, the best warehouse management upgrade you can make is a modern WMS suite. Warehouse Management Software (WMS) is the key unifying system that links everything from intake to shipping. A WMS provides information transparency as to what materials are in the warehouse, in what quantity, where they’re headed, and how they’ll get there. And not only that—a WMS also helps you design the layout of your warehouse for optimal efficiency, manage the scheduling of workers, control the yard, and pass the information on to your shipping partners.

Selecting a WMS is a big decision with ramifications for years to come. Here are some of the factors to weigh when choosing a WMS:

  • Does the WMS feature set match your needs?
  • If you have unusual requirements, can the system be customized?
  • Will it be hosted on the premises or in the cloud?
  • Does it have the capability to use barcodes and RFID for inventory tracking and picking?
  • Does it offer real-time inventory updates?
  • Does it support your picking method?
  • Will it give you detailed reporting you can use to assess warehouse performance?
  • Is it the right time to adopt this technology?

After examining your needs and the feature sets available on the market, invite the most interesting software makers to submit a bid for your business. Have them outline how their solution fits your specific requirements, what the cost is, and how long it will take to fully adopt their system.

 

Warehouse Technology

One of the most powerful technologies for the modern warehouse is high-density shelving. This storage innovation places shelves on tracks so that shelves slide together and empty aisles are removed. This doubles the storage capacity of a given warehouse footprint.

This shelving style is also compatible with pallet racking for compounding efficiency gains. Another benefit is that high-density mobile shelving reduces the distance workers must travel to access items, increasing labor efficiency. Finally, the mobile shelves may be locked together, increasing rack security.

A second storage technology you’ll want to consider bringing to your warehouse is flow racks. These racks have angled decks covered with rollers that use the force of gravity to carry boxes and pallets from the back of the shelf to the front. These racks separate the loading (always from the back) and the picking (always from the front) to maximize uninterrupted access. The design of a flow rack demands a FIFO (first-in, first-out) storage procedure. With use, you’ll find that these racks are optimal for rapidly distributed goods like food products.

Readers are likely familiar with pallet racking—the practice of placing pallets directly onto purpose-built shelving—but you may not have heard of more recent innovations in the field. One newer approach is drive-in pallet racking, where the forklift operator pushes each pallet onto a rail system and each successive pallet pushes older pallets further in. As you’d imagine, this necessitates LIFO (last-in, first-out) storage. The main advantage of drive-in pallet racking is its incredible storage density.

A related version of pallet racking is known as push-back. Here the basic procedure is the same as drive-in racking, with the difference that the rack is constructed so that when a pallet is removed, the remaining pallets are automatically pushed forward to the front of the rack. The next time you need to pick up a pallet, it’s ready and waiting, in position for picking. Push-back pallet racking has the effect of reducing the number of forklift operations required to manage your LIFO strategy.

Another innovation warehouse owners should consider is an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). An AS/RS functions on the principle of bringing the stored items to the picker, rather than the picker going to the items. As dynamic shelving, AR/RS can have either a primarily vertical or horizontal orientation. The most common vertical version is known as a Vertical Lift Module (VLM).

A VLM holds large trays on an electric lift that rises to the ceiling, allowing you to make the most of your vertical space. When an operator wishes to access a tray, he enters the identifier in the user interface, and the VLM activates to bring the desired tray to the waist-high access counter.

The horizontal version of an AS/RS is a horizontal carousel, and it works similarly to a VLM but rotates laterally, carrying multiple bins within reach of the operator. Both systems are highly effective at reducing picking time, increasing organization, and increasing storage density.

 

Warehouse Organization

When it comes to warehouse organization, one of the best places to invest is in warehouse design. Do you have separate and well-spaced unloading, staging/reception, storage, picking, and shipping areas? If not, that’s the place to start. Though often neglected, a well-spaced staging or reception area is crucial to avoiding an initial intake bottleneck as you perform quality assurance and putaway on new goods.

If you have the luxury of planning an entirely new space or a total warehouse overhaul, there are three popular warehouse designs to consider. First, the most versatile design is the U-shaped warehouse. This design puts the unloading dock and the shipping dock next to each other. Goods circulate through the warehouse from unloading to staging to storage to picking to shipping in a U-shape. Consider this design if you want to get the most out of a space that can fit all the docks on one side.

The next design is the I-shaped (sometimes called through-flow) warehouse. Here, unloading docks are on one end of the warehouse and shipping is on the other. This design allows for a lot of designated storage space, and has a simple and logical movement pattern, making it popular for high-throughput warehouses. To get the most out of your I-shaped warehouse, store the most popular goods at the end of the warehouse near the shipping bay.

The final design is the L-shaped warehouse. Here the unloading docks are at a right angle to the shipping docks. In the crux of the L you have a large storage area with space for staging and picking on opposite sides. The L works best with a large-volume warehouse that can fit the required docks.

 

The Best Warehouse Investments

We’ve covered three critical areas of warehouse investment: management, technology, and organization. For modern management, we recommend purchasing and implementing a WMS solution. The implementation phase is key—be sure to get all managers on board with the new system and explain how it will benefit the company to follow the new procedures.

When it comes to storage technology, we’ve seen exciting developments in high-density storage, flow racks, and newer pallet racking techniques. Lastly, we’ve reviewed the most popular patterns of warehouse design. If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan out a new space, consider a U, I, or L-shaped warehouse based on what best meets your needs. At the end of the day, there are many potential investments that can upgrade your warehouse. Evaluate your current operations, see where you can improve, and enjoy the process of change.

 

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FINTECH COMPANY PAYEN CHOOSES AQILLA FOR ITS LIMITLESS SCALABILITY AND SUPERIOR MULTI-CURRENCY FEATURES

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Payen is a fast-growing FinTech company that provides gateway Payment and FX services to online merchants. Having launched in 2010, the business has grown steadily, winning three UK high-growth awards in 2019 and now has an annual revenue of over £14 million. As a global payments company, Payen deals with huge volumes of complex multi-currency transactions on a daily basis. Their accounting system needs to be able to scale effortlessly to these volumes as well as handle the unique nuances of multi-currency and foreign exchange.

 

Payen’s vision is to provide innovative solutions with a personal touch. As such they’ve continuously improved their 100% proprietary technology to enhance the process at every step in the payment value chain. Most recently, this includes extending their global options for alternative payment methods, as well as offering business bank accounts and forex services. As a cloud-based service, Aqilla effortlessly scales to handle Payen’s growing number of currencies and transactions.

 

Global payment transactions involve numerous touchpoints. As a payment gateway, Payen sits in the middle of this process, but Aqilla has the flexibility to handle this. Payen also offers foreign exchange services, so multi-currency is key to their finance function. Aqilla features simple but sophisticated handling of multi-currency transactions with extensive multi-currency capabilities throughout its ledgers.

 

Hugh Scantlebury, Aqilla’s CEO and Founder, explains further: “Aqilla’s reporting system features an easy to use report editor and query builder that lets you create custom reports that can easily be extended across multiple companies and currencies. Aqilla’s API also allows it to connect to other business apps, which Payen plans to use in the future to consolidate reports for its two UK-based entities.”

 

Payen’s Head of Finance Hannah James endorses Aqilla as an adaptable and easy to use accounting solution to support Payen as it grows: “As a fast-growing business, we need lean processes that can scale. Aqilla has continued to deliver this, even as we’ve added more services, currencies, and transactions. We’ve had no issues with the volume of transactions, and Aqilla’s support team has always been prompt and helpful. On the whole, we don’t notice any problems because Aqilla just works. And we know it has the features and flexibility in place to keep up with our evolving requirements,” she explained.

 

Hannah continues: “Aqilla meets all of our reporting needs. I particularly find the ability to drill into accounting categories very useful, avoiding the need to manipulate data outside of the system, downloading it every time. I can see the detail I need through simple navigation. We hope to continue to build on the reporting capabilities in Aqilla by creating a more automated method of consolidation using Sharperlight, however, we already have a good level of business intelligence and the information is easy to extract.”

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NEW RESEARCH REVEALS KEY ROLE OF KYC COMPLIANCE IN DRIVING CUSTOMER LOYALTY, ADVOCACY AND NEW BUSINESS

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The impact of financial crime for institutions goes beyond crippling fines

 

A piece of original research conducted by RegTech Associates on behalf of PassFort, the SaaS RegTech provider, whose platform automates financial crime and compliance processes, has revealed that customers who reported a better than expected compliance onboarding experience in the last 12 months were much more likely to remain loyal, advocate for their brands and acquire more products than those whose experience was worse than expected. These results underline the importance of delivering outstanding service along the whole customer lifecycle.

The survey was conducted in July and August 2021 and addressed a representative sample of 500 UK financial services consumers who had acquired a new financial product in the past twelve months. Products had been acquired from a mix of high street banks, challenger banks, mobile and digital banks and building societies. Those who had a worse than expected compliance onboarding experience[1] were much more likely than their peers to believe their providers did little to protect them from financial crime[2]. They were also much more likely to underestimate the penalties facing providers, with one-third (32 percent) assuming they would get no more than a “slap on the wrist”[3].

Announced today to coincide with Donald Gillies’, CEO, PassFort, panel discussion at Money 20/20, the research highlights consumer attitudes towards their providers and the outcomes they drive, as well as digging more broadly into their perceptions of risk, their experiences of fraud and views on the current UK debate around digital identity.

Regulatory technology that supports know your customer (KYC) compliance in financial institutions has historically been viewed as a cost burden. However, the findings revealed today clearly show a positive trend for those providers who execute well. The case for business benefit or value-add can clearly be seen in the correlation between consumer attitudes towards positive compliance onboarding experiences and a likelihood to go on to purchase additional products.

 

In fact, as a result of their interactions, those customers who received a better than expected experience of compliance onboarding described themselves as:

  • more likely to recommend their provider (77 percent, which was more than double the rate of 32 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • more likely to buy more products (60 percent, which was almost 3.0x the rate of 21 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to make a complaint (50 percent, versus only 14 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to switch providers (49 percent, more than 2.5x the rate of 18 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)

“The complex compliance landscape has been under even more pressure with the impact of the pandemic. There were more than 1,330 pieces of covid related regulation introduced by August 2020 alone. Couple this with the enforced financial pressures on consumers and a global increase in fraud and financial crime and we have to understand that the perceptions and demands of consumers have shifted,” said Dr Christine Bailey, CMO, PassFort. “The compliance onboarding process shouldn’t be seen as a cost burden to financial institutions. Instead, what this research starkly demonstrates is the importance of onboarding at the beginning of the customer lifecycle in terms of how it influences customer loyalty, advocacy and future buying decisions.”

Far from being an unseen element of the customer journey, KYC at onboarding can be a differentiator for financial institutions. As financial crime increasingly dominates our headlines, the public are becoming aware of the value and vulnerability of their digital identity. One of the many legacies of Covid is that consumers are demanding more from the organisations they engage with across the board and trust ranks highly on that list of expectations.

“A stand-out result from the survey is the clear connection between the ability of leaders to exceed the customer’s expectations of what their compliance journey should look like, and the positive outcomes that follow. For example, in 90 percent of cases, customers who received a better than expected compliance journey would describe their provider as “trustworthy”, while 88 percent would say their provider was “efficient”. In contrast, for those whose experiences undershot expectations, the figures drop sharply, to 64 percent and 39 percent respectively,” commented Rob Stubbs, Head of Research at RegTech Associates. “Despite many customers telling us their experience was ‘as expected’ it’s clearly important that providers don’t rest on their laurels.”

“Against this backdrop, firms cannot afford to view satisfactory delivery as being good enough. There is a very real opportunity for engaging valuable revenue streams and enhancing reputation for those who step up,” continued Dr Bailey. “The regulatory landscape is ever changing and incredibly complex, yet we still see an ad hoc approach to regulatory technology across the industry with many firms still relying on heavily manual processes.  In the same way we have seen marketing automation revolutionise the marketing function, it’s time to digitise compliance and streamline the entire customer journey.”

 

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