Warehouses. Such massive spaces holding tons of stocks worth Millions of dollars. Sadly, most of them are grossly mismanaged. Despite having all technology and know-how, most enterprises, both the big players and the small ones fail miserably at managing their warehouses.
Only 30% of the warehouses in the United States have deployed a Warehouse Management System to check their operations. With a CAGR rate of 6.8% in the number of warehouses for the past 5 years, the need for effective eCommerce warehouse management is now grave than ever before.
Making the most out of their warehouses is a rare feat that only a handful of retailers with the best ecommerce warehouse management system manage to achieve. And the ones who achieve that are the ones who go on to join the league of globally successful brands.
So, I thought of putting together a handful of eCommerce warehouse management best practices that has helped small firms go from ‘badly managed warehouses’ to ‘powerhouses for eCommerce success’.
Cluster Picking to Save Time
Warehouse staff spend a lion share of their working hours picking up SKUs from bins scattered across distances within the warehouse. There are several methods that are followed to pick up SKUs, each one with its own pros and cons.
Depending on the size and nature of the SKU, the picking method can be chosen. However, for eCommerce businesses where the order sizes are minimal in most cases, cluster picking is the ideal option.
In cluster picking, multiple order containers containing discrete orders, batches or shipments are lifted at the same time. It saves time, labor and also helps maximize the order fulfillment rate effortlessly. If the warehouse is using a smaller pallet or barrel for logistics, it might want to move to a bigger pallet or tote to facilitate cluster picking.
Cohesive Cloud Inventory Management
In the present world, eCommerce is synonymous with omni channel selling. Orders pour in from all directions – online & offline with equal weightage. It is no longer possible for a warehouse to track its inventory based on manual records or standalone inventory management software.
The need of the hour is a cohesive inventory management software that can combine real-time inventory information flow from multiple sources: online, offline and in-store selling channels. Cloud integration will put real-time stock movement metrics in the hands of warehouse manager thus making it easy to plan for eCommerce warehousing and order fulfillment easily. An ecommerce warehouse management system which can work in sync with the inventory management software can iron out the wrinkles in inventory management.
Explore On-Demand Warehousing
On-demand warehousing is the right fix for warehouses that are grappling with the uncertainty of order volumes swelling or dipping inconsistently. It spares business owners from the need to invest in an additional warehouse or rent out more space in a publicly shared warehouse.
Thankfully, the sharing economy as driven by global brands like Airbnb, Uber, etc. have also dusted their influence into the warehousing and logistics industry. There are online marketplaces where business owners can find on-demand warehousing space to meet their ad hoc needs. Suitable arrangements for on-demand warehousing can be done by taking inventory forecasts from the eCommerce warehouse management software.
Plan for Omni-Channel Deliveries
Unlike the traditional supply-chain model where the order and delivery touch points were minimal, today, the need to plan for omni-channel deliveries requires warehouses to gear for omnichannel deliveries. Deliveries have to be exercised across online and offline locations within the minimal time possible.
Conventional bin tracking and movement is not the ideal for fit omni-channel delivery. Warehouses need to adapt with latest strategies that leading retailers like Amazon, Zappos, Target, etc. are employing to maximize order fulfillment rates. Chaotic order processing, RFID tag based order processing, etc. can also be explored to dispatch orders quickly.
WMS for Precision & Efficiency
Only 30% of the warehouses in the US have adopted a warehouse management system. In other words, majority of the warehouses are using manual processes to track and monitor their eCommerce warehousing operations. This is the root cause for inventory mismanagement and also the exceeding costs in warehouse management.
A eCommerce warehouse management software can take the guesswork out of the equation for warehouse management by automating a large chunk of routine tasks. For instance, it can update inward registers to stock levels, alert when stock levels fall low, prepare warehouse planogram based on forecasted demand and stock movements and much more. In a way, a warehouse inventory management software can also simplify the eCommerce supply chain system through integrations with eCommerce platforms.
Hope these warehouse management tips for eCommerce will help streamline your warehouse operations to finesse. Is there anything more you can add on how to manage eCommerce warehouse. Let us know.