Ecommerce Warehouse Management is an art that few people can perfect.
We live in a world full of disruptions and constant change. It’s something that affects all aspects of human life, businesses being no exception.
In such a landscape, companies are moving towards efficiency. They want to improve their operations bit by bit to ensure their processes keep on adjusting to change, and their customers are happy.
For a customer facing business, eCommerce warehouse management is essential. It ensures that the warehouse operations are in line with the warehouse in the backend. Such an alignment leads to more sales and more opportunities for companies to grow.
So, how can a company focus on eCommerce warehouse management? Well, in this post, we’ll outline the six ways you can do just that.
Ecommerce Warehouse Management and Why Does It Matter?
Warehouse management is the process where inventory is stored before it’s shipped to the consumer.
Now, there are a lot of products within an organization and efficient warehouse management ensures that those products are present when ordered by the customer efficiently.
From warehouse workers, to senior managers, and more – several parties have presence in a successful warehouse management operation.
They all come together to ensure that the end user delivery is seamless.
What we’ve written here paints a very optimistic picture of warehouse management. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in this industry.
With the changes going on in the landscape, some companies lag behind, thus leading to poor warehouse operations. Making sure everything works is a tiring job and you have to have proper planning to ensure the system runs smoothly.
Let’s look at the six ways you can improve your eCommerce warehouse management operations.
1.Optimize Warehouse Storage
What’s the ideal location of your inventory? Picking out optimal storage locations is an important aspect of proper warehouse management.
This sorting allows workers to pick inventory, and place them off for shipping quickly. This way order fulfillment becomes faster.
Imagine if you have an order for a product and it was sorted alphabetically and the product happens to be something that starts with an X or a Y.
When you designate inventory for each product and product category, you’re actually embracing a seamless inventory management system that lets you follow up on your same-day/next-day delivery promise.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS), of course, can prove vital for this process. This method of sorting isn’t possible if you don’t have enough seasonal data and trends. You require an years’ worth of data to start.
Being economical with how much you use your warehouse space matters a lot.
Proper warehouse management requires you to make room for inventory, and also, to ensure that your warehouse administrative operations aren’t disturbed during the process.
From inventory storage planning, forward staging, packing locations, to placing an area for dead or unsold stock – your warehouse should have a dedicated location for all these activities.
2. Have The Essential Tools Present
This varies depending on the type of business model, the size of the warehouse, the volume of products, and other business-specific considerations.
There is common ground in warehouse management activities: maximizing space, and improving efficiency. Staff safety and other considerations are also important in this matter.
To start operations, you must have four basic equipment present. Let’s discuss them, shall we?
Now the storage isn’t limited to having space for your products. It also includes the shelves, racks, and various other items that are part of the warehouse unit.
Material Handling Equipment
This one comes under a broader category of items since it includes transport equipment, hauling trucks, forklifts, positioning equipment, and more.
Packing and Shipping Equipment
This includes the equipment needed to pack, label, and prepare items for them to ship.
This equipment is perhaps the most important ones in an eCommerce store since their functions align with your store’s eCommerce software. You need to have a proper barcode system introduced in your warehouse to store it correctly within the database of your eCommerce systems.
3. Embrace Automation
“Automation is the future of eCommerce.”
Yes, that’s a cliché we’ve seen repeated over and over again but the eCommerce automation software that’s coming out definitely has the potential to make headways in the industry.
One of the biggest advantages of automation comes in streamlining product picking and shipping.
When a lot of people hear about automation, they usually think about financial investments that take a toll.
Such a thought process is justified, yet that’s not all there is to it. Small investments are the mainstay of the automation process. Some of the automation software we will discuss below are some you would already be familiar with:
- Barcode Scanners: Found pretty much everywhere now. They help streamline and track inventory coming in and going out of a warehouse.
- Conveyor Scanners: They help optimize the flow of goods from one point of the warehouse to another.
- Weight Scanners: Helps you automatically weigh the measurements of the shipments, making sure they are accurate and have a sped-up shipping process.
- Repetitive Task Equipment: For daily usage, they help make the warehouse processes a lot simpler and optimized.
All these automation software help you save valuable time and give you a better ROI. Business process automation is the need of the times, and investments in it can give out significant dividends in the future.
4. Optimize Pick Paths
Nowadays, companies are selecting to follow the hybrid model instead of banking on a single business model.
You have B2B eCommerce stores going versatile with implementing B2C purchases and vice versa. This trend implies a new and efficient picking strategy.
Picking, aka selecting a product from the warehouse and preparing it for shipping, gets optimized through automation. But here’s the thing: you can apply computer science as much as you want but you need to mix it up with human ingenuity.
Let’s look at this further:
- Understanding the differences between picking methods can help you a long way. From wave picking, to bulk picking, and more – these differences can help you engineer your WMS to align with the business process.
- Items categorized by their type. Dissimilar products can cause organizational problems down the road so you should ideally match the picked products.
- The picking process shouldn’t leave employees to constantly go back and from the pick zone to the drop zone. This takes human labor which can add to the time consumed per picking.
- If you have different picking locations, your process should be to finish one picking location at a time before moving to the next one.
5. Establish Warehouse Guidelines
When you’ve established a process, it’s time you start to draw up guidelines for workers to facilitate that system. From proper pick paths, drop points, to safety procedures, and workflow quality assurance – these are all vital considerations to look at.
Let’s look at these in detail, shall we?
Proper Safety Procedures: Yes, without a doubt, this is the most essential. For both employee welfare and general business interests, you need to make sure the safety protocols are followed.
Workflow And Quality Assurance: Drawing up guidelines for efficient set-up of all the workflows within a warehouse is essential. In addition to that, there should also be guidelines for quality assurance to ensure that the customer service is up to the mark.
Order Accuracy: Checking each item for inefficiencies also contributes to good quality in customer service.
There are plenty of more guidelines.
For example, you should also draw up rules for eCommerce warehouse management to ensure that the eCommerce operation is aligned with the warehouse operations.
The guidelines you select depend on the type of business operations that you have. From that, you can analyze which places you need to optimize through those guidelines. Lastly, look at things from a worker’s perspective.
See how much time they are taking in their operations and how your guidelines can benefit or simplify their workflows.
6. Employee Training Programs
Employee engagement with the job matters a lot if you want to run an efficient warehouse operation.
You don’t want them to stay as part of a machine.
Instead, you want to keep them engaged with the work with various training programs that benefit their careers. Whatever the capacity of the individual, a good training program will impart knowledge on various sectors of the operations and help employees move further.
It will take some time to implement a sound training strategy, but the results will pay in due time. Your employees are going to be better trained, more efficient, more engaged, and, if you followed Step 5 and had proper guidelines set, they will be working in a safe environment.
Lots of businesses hire and lay off quickly, thus increasing their turnover rates. This leads to inefficient operations. Ideally, you should work with what you have to ensure maximum efficiency in your operations.
So, these six steps are your gateway towards improving the efficiencies of your warehouse operations. Now these aren’t set in stone. You can modify, change, or remove them depending on the type of business operation you have. Flexibility is the key here.
We live in a world of disruptions. Adjusting to constant change is tough. With the right B2B eCommerce platform, you can manage your eCommerce store and subsequent warehouse operations while adjusting seamlessly to change.