Updated: Nov 20
Warehousing is a critical part of your business if you're an eCommerce merchant because good warehousing practices can help you not just keep your inventory secure, but also meet consumer demand in a more efficient manner.
Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise eCommerce brand, good warehousing practices can benefit you in many ways that impact growth:
Shipping your products faster to your customer - With Amazon Prime's effect, customers now expect goods to reach them in a reasonable amount of time, even same-day delivery in some cases! Online marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada, Tokopedia and many others have followed suit despite catering to more streamlined geographic markets. So storing your product across multiple warehouses across the country ensures the products get faster to the customers.
Keep products organized - Warehouses are designed to manage and store your products systematically. This means you can keep track of the product in the inventory and prevent lost items. With an inventory management system, you can also keep track of inventory turnover rates.
Time-saving - Investing in a warehouse helps eCommerce merchants to free up time that they can utilize to focus on growing their business.
Businesses are already catching up with the benefits of warehousing across the globe.
As per Warehouse Building Stock Database, a global warehouse assessment states that warehouses across the globe with a space of 25 billion square feet are expected to skyrocket to 33 billion square feet, adding a 5.2 % increase year on year by 2025. The report further states that warehouse machinery automation is expected to rise to $8.7 billion in 2025 from $4.3 billion in 2020.
This means that in the coming days, the warehouse will have a deep impact on how eCommerce operates and how it stays ahead of the competition. In this article, we have discussed ways to increase your warehouse productivity for eCommerce.
10 Ways to Increase Warehouse Productivity for eCommerce
1. Optimize Warehouse Layout
Optimizing the warehouse layout ensures faster pickup of the product by the delivery team and making the best use of the storage space. Warehouse slotting is a popular way of optimizing warehouse layout that involves identifying the most appropriate place in the warehouse for storing a product so that it can be picked up faster and delivered faster.
While you can do the task manually, it requires analyzing a great deal of data — seasonality and its effect on the product, extra space for dead stock and returned products, forward staging, all the stages of shipping like labeling, breaking down larger pallets, quality control, projected inventory growth to name a few factors to consider. Investing in a warehouse management system is a wise idea to analyze all the data and automate the process.
2. Automate Warehouse Processes
Automation has already forayed into eCommerce when you think of choosing a product or placing an order. So why not embrace automation for different warehouse processes?
For example, you can consider a barcode scanner to help streamline picking and remove cycle counts while improving accuracy. Similarly, a conveyor belt can safely move heavy containers from one place to another, thus freeing up your staff and safeguarding them from workplace hazards. Repetitive and mundane tasks like breaking down pallets can be also automated which can further increase warehouse productivity.
3. Utilize Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) can be utilized to optimize pick paths. While there are various pick paths like wave picking, batch picking, and zone picking, cluster picking is an easy method to start with if you're using a WMS for the first time. That's because it's cost-effective and focuses on picking up items rather than orders.
This means a single picker picks up multiple orders and keeps them segregated in different containers. Cluster picking accelerates the picking process and ensures products are delivered on a tighter timeline.
4. Optimize Order Fulfillment Process
You can opt for a third-party logistics (3PL) fulfillment center that can handle all the warehousing processes like picking, packing, shipping and optimizing the complete fulfillment process. Apart from optimizing the whole process, a third-party fulfillment center can also save you cost, tap into their expertise and knowledge, and scale your eCommerce business faster.
5. Optimize Inventory Management
Optimizing inventory means maintaining the right balance of inventory just to meet the customer's demand. Optimizing inventory ensures there is low dead stock, logistics cost stays minimal, no issue of overstocking or backorders.
Having inventory management software and optimization of the inventory can reduce operational costs, increase customer satisfaction and improve the delivery timeline. But most importantly, reduce errors that come with managing the same manually.
6. Choose the Right Container
How you store your product is important, so choose the right container that can easily hold your product and fits well in the warehouse without wasting too much space.
Depending on your product category, there might be container specifications (for example, if you're dealing with food products, the container must meet certain regulations), so do your due diligence before investing in any containers.
7. Standardize Workflows
Right from moving a product into the warehouse to moving it out of the warehouse, every step needs a standardized workflow. Automating the workflows ensures that every staff in the warehouse follows the same SOP. It also helps you to monitor the performance of the staff and benchmark each of the workflow stages.
8. Establish Warehouse Guidelines
Establishing warehouse policies and guidelines will help in quality control, order accuracy, and maintaining a safe work environment for your staff. Focus on:
Safety procedures of the staff that they need to follow. From picking up the product from the warehouse until its delivery to the customer should be a part of a single workflow.
Quality control and accuracy should be done at each stage. For example, how will breakage and spoilage be reported? Are all the orders packaged correctly in the order? Does the address on the label and the original order match? Is the order appropriately packed? How will the returns be processed?
9. Look After Warehouse Staff
Working in the warehouse is challenging. So ensure your staff has a comfortable working environment to improve their productivity. For example, soft flooring can reduce foot and ankle pain as they have to walk around constantly; proper air conditioning can also improve work conditions, adhere to all workplace safety regulations, and offer fair wages to the staff.
Additionally, you can also incentivize the staff based on their performances. When the staff knows their performance is measured and some rewards are attached to it, they're likely to improve their efficiency and accuracy.
10. Track the Entire Supply Chain
The supply chain today is connected with real-time data and analytics. This helps you derive important information regarding stock levels, exact delivery time, location details, etc. With different modern tracking devices like QR codes and barcodes, it becomes easy to keep track of the product. This enables eCommerce businesses to make quick, informed decisions. Keeping track of the entire supply chain can help you improve customer satisfaction and higher ROI.
Running an eCommerce store is not easy. And as you focus more on a streamlined customer experience in your online store, you might miss out on eCommerce warehousing.
Good inventory and warehouse management can help you scale your eCommerce business and sell your products to a broader audience and across channels. To help you manage things better, you need to rely on automated systems and intelligence and not just do things manually, as they can be prone to error. This is where marketplace management solutions like Graas come in.
Graas provides a multi-channel integrated solution that enables eCommerce stores to sell across marketplaces. It lets you manage multiple product listings across multiple sales channels from a single dashboard; you can synchronize inventory for maximum sales, manage and track your entire order processing flow in a single view, reconcile and consolidate payments from different marketplaces, and do a lot more. Book a demo today to explore all the opportunities for your eCommerce store. Contact us to know more.