April 28, 2020
Ecommerce in a challenging climate: How cloud-based labeling is changing the game
As the ease and one-click convenience of online shopping grows in popularity, the ecommerce industry faces enormous demand. This trend is particularly prevalent in the UK, which has the highest share of online sales in retail trade across Europe. However, in times of crisis, ecommerce goes beyond convenience – offering a critical lifeline for consumers who cannot access or purchase the items they need from physical shops. As such, in challenging times, it’s vital to ensure supply chain business continuity under all conditions – and this means having the right tools in the right place to move inventory and ship products as quickly as possible to those who need them.
For label creation and management, this means stepping away from legacy systems and manual processes and moving towards the adoption of cloud-based solutions that optimize processes, improve productivity, and ensure any applicable regulations are met. Most importantly, in a challenging climate, it means IT teams do not have to deploy or configure a label management system onsite, and any authorized remote user with the right access can quickly alter and print labels that are centrally stored.
Once all the processes and information required to produce and maintain labels are centralized in the cloud, companies can maintain operations remotely and deliver products faster, with fewer errors and less IT resources.
Improved collaboration from anywhere in the world
After a cloud-based labeling system is implemented, labels can be centrally controlled, changed and updated; deployed via a browser and accessed from any location. This encourages improved supply chain collaboration with business partners, enhanced agility and quality, and reduced costs, while providing labels that are easy to create, share and print. Not only does this encourage the consistent usage of a standardized label format across the supply chain, it also helps prevent product counterfeiting and diversion and enables better use of technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) to automate inventory management.
Similarly, modern label management systems can interface with a host of different label and direct marking printers, no matter the manufacturer. This interoperability will promote consistent results by preventing the reworking of labels, discarding of mislabeled products, or large upfront costs on solutions that will not integrate with other systems. It also creates a consistent environment, especially when it comes to organizations with widely dispersed locations and a large installed bases of label and direct marking printers.
Enhanced agility and improved quality assurance
Legacy labeling methods often require extensive IT support to make new label templates or process change requests. A modern label management system can automate and digitize labeling processes, helping IT to facilitate faster label changes or delegate the task to empowered business users to quickly create and alter labels.
This approach reduces the capacity for human error by automating tasks such as data entry and eliminating the need to maintain duplicate templates. This also helps restrict user access, meaning that only authorized parties are able to make changes to the files they need and that the numbers of labels printed is controlled.
The benefits of cloud-based labeling
Modern, cloud-based labeling solutions offer a multitude of benefits. They reduce the burden and reliance on IT departments, offer cost savings through the digitization of quality control, and promote greater transparency across the supply chain. They also eliminate the hidden costs of legacy labeling systems by centralizing and streamlining label across facilities, eradicating duplicate templates and dramatically reducing maintenance costs for unnecessary variations.
However, when it comes to choosing the best system, not every organization’s needs are the same. Every manufacturer and supplier faces their own specific challenges, and as such, the choice must be based on individual circumstances. Having said that, there are a few critical elements that widely underpin the implementation of a label management system.
Top tips for choosing a modern label management system
Whether an organization needs to configure and manage a system remotely to ensure business continuity or is able to work onsite, an adequate solution must be able to provide a central, web-based platform to all factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and business partners throughout the supply chain; streamlining operations by automating manual quality assurance processes, reducing the cost and reputational risk of human error, eliminating silos and promoting consistency.
Integration with existing business systems is also key. The world’s largest brands rely on business systems like MES, ERP, and WMS which are constantly being updated and improved upon, and as such, labeling solutions need to easily integrate and scale with these systems. This will speed up operations and improve supply chain efficiency by superseding outdated methods of labeling such as hard coded label templates, using paper-based QA practices and locally managing labels.
By extension, these integrated systems should also be printer agnostic to facilitate ease of use and support flexible and efficient label printing. By automating printing workflows and supporting mobile systems, unnecessary administrative work such as changing printer settings and training operators will become a thing of the past. And with 71.2% of ecommerce set to be attributable to smartphones by 2023, future-proofing the environment to welcome new mobile and IoT devices will also save the capital expenditures of continually replacing hardware.
Future-proofing business functionality
Even when disaster strikes, businesses must continue to function. And, as an essential element to supply chains, the business of labeling is no different.
The key to long-term success is implementing a solution that improves current labeling requirements, while future-proofing at the same time. By implementing the right cloud-based label management system, and integrating it with manufacturing, logistics and warehouse systems, organizations can ensure the continuity of efficient shipping and logistics through challenging times, while working to secure their own future.
Find out how your business can benefit from cloud-based label management system – visit the Label Cloud page.