I am coming to you live from Manhattan Momentum 2018, in Hollywood, FL at the Diplomat Beach Resort. This year’s theme is “Push Possible” which is very fitting. CEO Eddie Capel explained that push possible is all about pushing the envelope with actionable, measurable solutions. It means bringing in bigger and brighter ideas, to push what is possible for their customers. At last year’s event, Manhattan announced the release of the cloud-based Manhattan Active solution set. These solutions were geared towards omni-channel execution, and the applications are always current and update automatically. Manhattan sees the future of enterprise applications as being cloud based, and is pouring development efforts into this vision. These cloud-based applications are geared to increase the speed of innovation, offer greater scalability and flexibility, be more available, and lower the total cost of ownership.
The big news to come out of the conference was a number of product enhancements that build upon the Manhattan Active solution set. The first enhancement is to the company’s warehouse management system (WMS). Eddie Capel indicated that Manhattan Associates has invested more in its WMS research and development this year than in any other year. Considering that at one point Manhattan was only a WMS company, it shows just how much they are investing in the solution. The three main pieces are order streaming, WES as part of WMS, and unified distribution control.
Last year, the company introduced order streaming as an alternative to wave picking in the warehouse, which has always been the primary method for picking orders. There was a problem however; customers could not switch between the two picking methods. In 2018, this is no longer an issue. Customers can switch back and forth between wave picking and order streaming depending on volume and available labor. The solution uses machine learning to ensure that nothing is duplicated or separated; there is common inventory, tasks, and automation.
Manhattan also built its warehouse execution system (WES) into the WMS with the enhancement in 2018. The upgrade combines the inventory, labor, and space management of WMS with conveyance, AS/RS, sortation, and autonomous robots of WES. Customers can create WES workflows within the WMS, and do not need to choose one system or the other. It is now one fully integrated application. On top of that, the new app has features for both the DC associate and supervisor. For the associate, it provides guidance on what they should be working on; for the supervisor it enables them to see, diagnose, and fix anything that might come up during the day.
A second set of enhancements centered on transportation. Manhattan has expanded its partner network, which is important as visibility becomes more important. The major partnership announced is with Freight Rover, which opens customers up to a larger network of carriers. Through the partnership, customers can tender, track, and pay through its platform. Other key partnerships include 10-4 Systems for real-time shipment visibility, Logistyx for parcel tracking, alk for maps and weather data, here for weather data, SMC3 for carrier connectivity, and SPS Commerce for enhanced carrier connectivity through EDI.
Manhattan also announced multiple enhancements to its mobile app. The big news is geofencing for automated tracking of shipments in transit. The mobile app has also added functionality for private fleets and couriers, as well as order-level pick-up and delivery confirmation – this enables the confirmation of quantities of goods picked up or delivered.
A final TMS enhancement is entry into the digital freight matching market. Millions of dollars have been flowing into this space as companies try to deal with the capacity crunch. Enabling digital freight matching can reduce deadhead miles and make trips more profitable.
A third enhancement Manhattan made this year is to its Manhattan Active Omni solution suite. The Manhattan Active Omni solution includes order management, point-of-sale (POS), and customer service. The key enhancement focuses on unification. Namely, this means a unified view of the store, call center, and warehouse. This also means one unified order for both fulfillment and returns, as well as unified promotions across channels. The unified order for fulfillment and returns is key, as it allows customers to return an item through the channel of their choice, meaning e-commerce orders can be returned to the store, or store items can be mailed to a central facility. This is all about customer enablement.
The order management system is the crucial component for omni-channel operations. Manhattan has made it a critical part of the call center. Call center agents now have one place where they get a better understanding of the customer. The agent has access to the customer’s full purchase history and lifetime value, fulfillment information for all orders, and a complete interaction history, which now brings in social data as well. This goes a long way in satisfying a customer and providing a truly omni-channel experience.
The theme of “push possible” was an apt one for this event. Manhattan is pushing the envelope for what omni-channel should be. The main focus has been to move to the cloud for deployments to speed up innovation and scalability, while reducing total cost of ownership. With the enhancements the company has made to its Manhattan Active solutions, including WMS, TMS, and omni-channel, Manhattan is well positioned for the future.