Finger of businessman touching and check mark icon face emoticon smile on dark background, service mind, service rating. Satisfaction and customer service concept

Strategies for Optimising Order Fulfilment & Warehouse Operations

Few industries have grown as rapidly as ecommerce over the past two years, and the trend looks like it will continues to evolve. The change has mainly been driven by current market conditions with the pandemic, market leader influences and customer expectations. It wasn’t too long ago that an order could be fulfilled within 24 hours and delivered in 5 days to receive glowing praise from the end customer. Now customers expect next day delivery with no errors on what they have ordered..

The order fulfilment process begins before a customer ever places an online order. Businesses must have the inventory and process in place to ensure that customers will get what they’ve ordered quickly and correctly. Here are the different elements of the process and how you can improve them.

1. Inventory Management

Businesses must have goods on hand to be able to fulfil orders from consumers. They can get them directly from manufacturers or some other supplier. But the trick is knowing the level of goods to have on hand to keep up with product demand and deal with seasonality. You will face stock-outs and lose customers if you have too little on hand. But having too much inventory on hand is costly and inefficient.

Solution:

To optimise your inventory management process, you’ll want to take advantage of technology solutions and forecasting. Specifically, a warehouse management system (WMS) can help you keep track of what you have and give you the data you need to make more informed decisions about what you should keep on hand. This type of system also allows you to set automated re-order triggers so that you can avoid stock-out situations.

2. Order Management

The next element in eCommerce order fulfilment is managing the orders that come in from customers. When a customer hits “Submit” on the Shopping Cart checkout page, what happens next? In their mind, your warehouse should already be processing their order. If there is a delay, it could impact the customer experience.

Solution:

One of the best ways to make this process more efficient is to integrate your entire eCommerce order fulfilment process through your WMS. Customers get a real-time view of inventory availability, and your warehouse will get immediate notification of new orders so that processing can begin.

3. Picking and Packing

As soon as your warehouse receives notification of a new order, those items should start moving in the right direction – towards the customer. The first two steps in this process are picking, where the item is removed from inventory, and packing, where it is packaged for shipping. If not managed properly, these processes can be incredibly inefficient.

Solution:

Using your WMS in connection with other solutions like RFID codes and mobile warehouse technology can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of picking and packing activities. RFID gives your organisation instant access to inventory and order information. Workers can also use mobile solutions like wearables and mobile carts to improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of these tasks.

4. Shipping & Delivery

Once a customer’s order has been pulled from the shelf and packed, it needs to be shipped. If your business doesn’t have reliable processes or shipping partners, orders can become bottlenecked at this point in the process.

Solution:

Many eCommerce retailers are now giving customers options to improve their experience. These include curb side pickup, BOPIS (buy online pick up in store), same-day delivery, and traditional delivery. It’s important to keep your customers informed about their options as well as to have complete visibility throughout your supply chain when you offer this many choices. It’s also a good idea to partner with multiple shipping providers and consider using local order fulfilment centres to reduce the distance between the warehouse and the final destination.

5. Returns

Getting your products into the customer’s hands may not be the end of the order fulfilment process. In some cases, those same products take a reverse trip back to your warehouse in the form of returns or recalls. How you handle reverse logistics can also make a difference in the customer experience and your overall results.

Solution:

The best approach to reverse logistics is to not make the process an afterthought. Incorporate it into your overall operation by creating processes to handle returns and add value by reselling or recycling items that come back through your doors. Your technology solutions will be just as helpful in keeping track of these items coming in the reverse direction.

There are many options in optimising fulfilment , but technology is no longer a “Nice to Have” it’s essential.

Managing a warehouse and all the inventory, as well as the staff related to that warehouse, can be a daunting task. In addition, ensuring the effectiveness of your supply chain so that you’ll be able to meet customer expectations is even more difficult. However, with a proper WMS solution, and other key technologies, all of those tasks can be made seamless, thus ensuring your company can easily boost both its efficiency and its overall performance.

There are many different ways to enhance your technology infrastructure, including partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Regardless of how you choose to approach it, now is the time to embrace technology. It isn’t a “nice to have” anymore, it’s just the price of admission.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfilment and manufacturing warehousing.