Inventory is the lifeblood of an operator’s micro market, dining or office coffee service (OCS) business. Without it, there is nothing to stock shelves, fill cups, promote or sell. Likewise, it is also an operator’s biggest recurring expense. Trey Smith, senior product manager at 365 Retail Markets’ warehousing division, Lightspeed Automation, appreciates the weight that carries and recently sat down for a question-and-answer session on leveraging warehousing and picking software to strongly manage stock control.
Q: For operators with a large number of routes, what is the must-have software solution they should invest in?
Smith: For operators with a lot of routes, Lightspeed Automation’s FastTrack is the must-have solution. It is a powerful, yet simple picking system that provides a cost-effective pick-to-light solution for vending, micro markets, pantry and OCS business lines. The system simplifies order fulfillment during the pre-kitting process by using LCD light signals to direct the activities of warehouse personnel. If operators are seeking ways to improve efficiency and accuracy, FastTrack can convert any food service operator into a highly efficient facility within days. This solution is best for operations with eight or more routes.
Q: Is FastTrack also a good fit for smaller operations?
Smith: Lightspeed Automation has a software solution that is tailored more closely to smaller operations. For smaller warehouse operations, our Xpress mobile warehouse solution leverages a tablet mounted on any mobile cart or pallet jack. With this solution, vendors can pick multiple orders at one time. The picker is directed through the warehouse on an efficient route. On the mobile cart mounted tablet, our system features a myriad of functions to support accuracy and focus, including product imagery displays and system-forced confirmation of the item before displaying the next. Additionally, Xpress reports changes to actual picked quantities to the provider. This solution can cost as little as $25 per day and easily save hours of labor each week.
Q: We recently learned from an interview with 365 Retail Markets’ Chief Technology Officer, Krishna Vedula, that it is imperative to inform business strategy with data-centered insights. How does Lightspeed Automation support vendors and operators who want to increase stock and inventory efficiency based on their market data?
Smith: Lightspeed offers an Advanced Inventory Management tool that we call, Level. It empowers operators and vendors to consolidate information from all of their operation inputs to truly understand their warehouse inventory and purchasing needs. Level allows vendors to see on-hand product quantities at any time. Based on those insights with Level, operators can also cut ordering time because the system suggests purchase quantities, which can typically result in inventory level reduction by 15-20%. After solidifying the proper quantities, Level empowers vendors to automate receiving. The software verifies products received against a vendor’s purchase orders – so that they can identify discrepancies immediately. Likewise, from the on-demand product quantity views, operators can use sales velocity data and current inventory levels to suggest optimal purchasing.
Essentially, Lightspeed and 365 Retail Markets understand that regardless to whether operators are managing one or multiple market and vending footprints, all of the logistics behind a successful operation can be daunting. As such, our warehouse order picking solutions provide them with the tools needed to enhance operations and get control over one of their biggest expenses: inventory. Thanks to combining our resources with 365 Retail Markets, our solutions are fully integrated with VMS, micro market and OCS management systems. Additionally, they also feature employee productivity reporting, bi-directional communication with the point-of-sale devices, such as kiosks, vending machines, and smart coolers and maintain accurate inventory levels across all systems. Our goal is to make their management processes easier by offering end-to-end hardware and software solutions that are adaptable to any stage of their market maturity.