Global supply chains are showing signs of healing. Ocean freight rates have normalized, with the price to get a container from China to the US West Coast down 90% from a year ago and the Asia to Europe route 73% lower, according to Freightos. While supplies of certain goods, like cars, still trails demand, many retailers entered the holiday season with a surplus of inventory.
But even as some challenges dissipate, others surface. Retailers, distributors, and manufacturers now stare down the same macroeconomic concerns affecting numerous sectors. Persistent inflation is finally starting to impact consumer demand, with November retail sales dropping by the largest rate in nearly a year. Several manufacturing indexes show contraction at a level not seen since early in the pandemic. Staffing remains a challenge as job openings remain near historical highs.
These factors have all dialed up the pressure on businesses to get more out of their existing resources. The struggle to find qualified workers and mounting concerns about the bottom line have left many turning to technology that can automate work and increase efficiency. NetSuite 2023 Release 1 includes features that help leaders increase employee productivity, identify savings opportunities, and closely monitor costs.
Optimize Worker Productivity in the Warehouse
Packing and Shipping
Warehouse workers can now pack and prepare orders for shipment with the NetSuite Ship Central mobile application, which adds shipping functionality to NetSuite Pack Station in 2023 Release 1. With all packing and shipping information and instructions in one place, Ship Central will identify multiple orders that are going to the same customer to consolidate shipments and lower your shipping expenses.
The application also lets your order fulfillment staff determine the best carrier based on delivery date or location type. They can then choose the best option and print the correct shipping labels.
And, 2023 Release 1 lets operations managers tailor fulfillment packing and shipping workflows in Ship Central to what works best for the business. The application includes new roles and dashboards designed for warehouse staffers and managers so they can easily track the status of orders and pending shipments.
NetSuite Ship Central is currently available in the United States.
Individual items that are part of a kit can now be broken up for more efficient picking in the latest version of NetSuite Warehouse Management System (WMS). For example, instead of one person pulling five different items spread across the warehouse that are part of one kit, the associate can pick the two items in their designated zone while two coworkers pull the three remaining products from their zones. All the items are then pooled together for packing. This helps your staff be more productive when picking kit items, reducing labor costs.
Additionally, new picking flows in NetSuite WMS allow those on the warehouse floor to mark partially picked orders as complete. This is useful when stock is running low and you don’t want to use all remaining inventory to fulfill a single customer order. Once a picker marks that partially filled order as done, the remaining stock is available for other orders rather than being reserved for the incomplete order. That helps companies make the most of available stock when supplies are low and lets workers resolve these scenarios without manager assistance.
Additionally, in 2023.1, pickers can mark a bin as empty if it doesn’t have enough items to complete an order, whether due to insufficient quantity, damaged goods, or another issue, and choose the appropriate reason code. This prevents other pickers from wasting time walking to that bin and alerts replenishment workers to restock.
NetSuite 2022 Release 2 made inventory counting easier and less disruptive with NetSuite Smart Count, which lets employees perform cycle counts without shutting down operations. The same benefits now apply to lot- and serial-numbered items, which businesses use to link individual items to end customers and suppliers via forward- and back-tracing. NetSuite 2023.1 lets warehouse and store employees use mobile devices to count these items. If counters find discrepancies between the recorded and counted quantities of products with lot or serial numbers, they can correct the variation with just a few taps.
Frequent, hassle-free cycle counts with Smart Count will improve inventory accuracy and make it easier to maintain optimal stock levels. The tool also prevents expensive rush orders and lost sales due to out of stocks, both of which can hurt your bottom line.
Helping Manufacturers Reduce Costs, Minimize Waste
NetSuite 2023 Release 1 brings benefits for manufacturers as well.
As decision-makers watch expenses with a more discerning eye, manufacturing leaders need more accurate and detailed cost projections. NetSuite’s new Costed BOM Report SuiteApp provides a comprehensive breakdown of all expenses related to producing assembly items, including material, labor, machinery, setup, and overhead costs. Given continued dramatic swings in the costs of many supplies, it’s advantageous to have the option to base component costs on your preferred inventory valuation method or the latest purchase prices. Simply select the bill of materials and routing to see the expected cost of production for that item. This information helps decision-makers better control costs because they can see where it makes sense to use alternative components or even slow production based on rising prices. It helps set the right expectations when creating budgets. This report is also valuable to product research and development teams in evaluating the viability and profitability of new products.
The Manufacturing Mobile SuiteApp now supports standalone assemblies without an associated work order. This is useful for simple manufacturing processes or occasional cases when a product must be built quickly and on the fly, like when you sell a demo model and need a replacement. The employee can use the standalone assembly feature to record the inventory they used in building the new demo product without creating a work order.
The new version of the SuiteApp centralizes all jobs, regardless of whether they have work orders, and brings producers one step closer to paperless manufacturing. This is available to all customers using NetSuite Work Orders and Assemblies.
Many young businesses turn to contract manufacturers to produce their goods because of the convenience and scalability these third-parties offer. But businesses still need to keep an eye on quality. With 2023.1, QA teams can now create automatic inspection requests in NetSuite Quality Management for items made by contract manufacturers. This gives you the ability to inspect items before they’re in customers’ hands to ensure they meet your quality standards and customer expectations.
The newest version of NetSuite Quality Management can also create ad-hoc inspection requests for lot- and serial-numbered items. QA managers can apply these inspection rules to inventory across certain lot types or serial number ranges. Managers can also set up inspection requests for specific products that need to be checked on a regular basis while they're in your possession.
What Else Is New in 2023 Release 1?
There are many other exciting new features within NetSuite 2023 Release 1. For a complete list of features and how they can help you, read the Release Notes(opens in new tab).
Additionally, request your Release Preview(opens in new tab) test account to try out these new capabilities and see how they work with your data, workflows, and customizations.
The preceding is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing, and pricing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation.