Warehouse Management: Tips for Efficient Ecommerce Order Fulfillment
There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer to find out that their selected product or the item trending on Instagram is out of stock – not a big deal.
But the worst-case scenario occurs when they’ve already paid for the product, and then they receive a message that the product is not available in the inventory.
For an eCommerce store, this follows a bad reputation, a lot of negative comments in social media, and losing potential customers that were ready to try your product.
46% of the small businesses still operate on a manual inventory.
Manual inventory is cheaper, but there are risks of errors. A company with a multi-channel strategy will have diversified channels with simultaneous sales happening.
Without some customization of a multi-channel inventory system, an eCommerce business will suffer slowing packaging and dispatching processes. And it will minimize the risk of selling the wrong products to customers.
A growing business will encounter new problems every day if the inventory is out of order. An eCommerce business that allows overselling can face out of the stock problem, high return rate, and issues with shipping operations.
Happy customers will improve the reputation of your eStore. To achieve that, you need an eCommerce inventory system that can pick, pack, and ship products faster.
An eCommerce business with efficient order fulfillment will ease the work of employees, generate sales, and make customers happy.
In this blog, you’ll read warehouse management tips best practices for eCommerce order fulfillment that will help your business to scale on a global level.
Classify the Inventory
eCommerce business demands smooth operation. The categorization of the inventory enables maximized access to the inventory. Every product must be labeled with a company’s defined numerical system. The numerical system will represent the batch number, color, size, and location of the product.
It helps in pinpointing the exact location of the product. Smooth picking, packaging, and dispatching of the product will eliminate confusion with the customer.
Identify Stock Requirements
A simple formula can quickly determine stock requirements:
(Avg. Product Sales / Number of working days) X Avg. Delivery time of the Product
This formula will determine the minimum product threshold that you need to avoid ‘out of stock’ warnings for the customers.
It’s normal to run short of stock because a manual warehouse makes it challenging to keep track of the stock.
That’s why it’s essential to calculate your restocking time so that customers will get a clear idea of the availability of the product. The customers who are eager to buy must be informed regarding the status of the product.
To maintain the quality of the product, the inventory must be managed appropriately. The damaged products must be discarded as soon as they expire.
There must include a regular check on storage conditions – the room temperature, how the boxes are piled up can affect your goods.
A detailed check on the labels, descriptions, and reference numbers will prevent any inaccurate deliveries.
Another reason to monitor your inventory is to know how many days your inventory will last and what is the return rate of the inventory, which will affect overall stock.
Get Rid of Stock
The frequency for each company is different. But it’s smart to analyze which products are not performing well. Identify the items which are taking the extra shelf space, giving no return of investment. Get rid of them.
One smart way to dispose of the less popular products is to sell them via complimentary channels like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. This will help you explore new demographics for your company and customers that might be interested in checking out your complete catalog.
In short, managing your multi-channel inventory is the key to optimize your warehouse, giving customers a seamless process. The right warehouse management software will make your fulfillment times shorter, satisfy customers, and lower your return rates. Here are some warehouse management tips that’ll get businesses scale fast.
Create Warehouse Guidelines
Hiring employees for your warehouse is like hiring a dream team for business. You want them to be skilled. To be efficient. And everyone must be on the same page. That’s why warehouse guidelines must be created for safety, accuracy, and fulfillment of orders.
Each warehouse offers different guidelines. So, workers with previous experience need to be educated with the new guidelines even before they are hired.
A typical warehouse can witness an array of injuries. In an ideal world, no one wants to get hurt, but sadly, in reality, anything is possible.
Create safety protocols that must be followed. An easy way to begin is to ensure that aisles and walkways are clear. Place multiple trash cans, brooms, and mops throughout the warehouse so that staff can keep it clean.
Train your staff in case of an event of a fire. The use of protective equipment and the emergency exit in case things got worse.
Place adequate lights in the warehouse. When the delivery arrives at the docks, make sure that it is monitored by the manager or a dedicated person from your warehouse. Plan for the worst-case scenario so that you’ll be prepared.
An eCommerce warehouse with a fast-paced working environment needs a friendly working environment. People with no previous working experience will find it difficult to adjust if safety and security are not ensured.
Thus physical check-up can prevent future injury. Moreover, the warehouse managers will know which employee can perform the assigned task better. If the staff member won’t have physical damage, give them frequent breaks, and avoid assigning them physical labor like lifting heavy boxes.
It’s important to brief the new workers regarding the nature of work early. Use training videos and don’t sugarcoat anything. If it gets too much, hire more workers to streamline the work, and satisfy the customers.
As soon as the truck hits the dock – the first employee that unloads the truck should check for accuracy. If the goods don’t match the actual order, identify them to prevent issues while picking the order.
To get a head start, ask vendors to label the products properly, and place unique barcodes on each product to prevent multiple shipping of the item. Once orders are received, check it against the original order for accuracy.
Manually picking, packing, and shipping can be a challenge. To improve efficiency, it is better to use a warehouse management system. Thus, each step will be automated, and the risk of human error will be decreased.
FBA is a service by Amazon for startups who don’t have a proper warehouse. It runs on autopilot. The seller sends products to the Amazon warehouse, and from there, they get shipped to the customer. The FBA fee is high, so only go for it if you can afford it.
3PL can help sellers to streamline their fulfillment operations. However, some don’t offer customization options, but most of them can help you maintain a steady workflow in your warehouse.
What are the integrations worth
For eCommerce merchants dispatching orders is a hurdle. A shipping software integrates with multiple mails offering a wide range of options to customers to compare the rates and find the best economical service.
Some shipping software is web-based, thus giving access to business owners to track their shipments from anywhere. The software automatically marks products and minimizes human errors.
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
For large-scale businesses, a WMS is a right choice. For faster order, fulfillment eCommerce businesses must use WMS. Human errors, unorganized inventory, or tracking of orders can easily be made with automated software.
Other than automating the processes, WMS will integrate the shipping, accounts, and all the channels. Integration, coupled with automation, will streamline the overall process.
If you are selling to multiple channels, a WSM software can make things easy for you. Whenever there is a change in the quantity of SKU, it will reflect across all tracks, and the product will automatically be removed from the stock.
A WMS will synchronize your system, reducing the out-of-stock problem, and improve the visibility of your warehouse in the marketplace.
For growing businesses, warehouse management is challenging. 3PL Next is a WMS that empowers eCommerce store owners and retailers to take control of their inventory and ship products fast. If you have a manual warehouse, we can help you with warehouse automation. Let’s talk!