Although politicians may not be able to agree about whether or not the economy is improving, most companies are seeing business begin to pick up, and their customers are demanding faster deliveries than ever before.
Distributors and e‐commerce companies in particular are seeking ways to improve processes and cut costs without necessarily adding more labor to their existing workforce. The recognition of this time‐ and cost‐savings opportunity has pushed optimized shipping and order fulfillment to the forefront.
We will discuss 4 ways you can optimize your shipping and fulfillment processes:
Offer Multiple Shipping Options
Today’s consumers expect retailers and suppliers to offer a wide range of shipping options. From free shipping fast standard shipping and next-day or same-day delivery, customers want the flexibility to control how quickly they can receive an item. By offering this to them, you can increase their happiness since your customer will have greater command of the transaction and choice in determining when they receive the item.
Automate to Reduce Cost
Automated storage and retrieval technologies can support further optimization of order fulfillment as a “next‐step” component of slotting. As mentioned in Step 1 above, most companies focus the majority of their attention and equipment investments on handling their fast movers. But that leaves 80 percent of their remaining inventory—including medium and slow movers—unoptimized, and a prime area for additional labor, time and cost savings.
Map Processes and Workflow to Maximize Throughput and Reduce Labour
It’s important to look for potential alternative picking methodologies for further enhancing order fulfillment workflow.
These could include:
*Batch Picking – Grouping multiple orders into small batches, typically including 4 to 12 orders. Order pickers pick all orders in the batch at the same time, working from a consolidated pick list. “Batch picking systems may use extensive logic programmed to consolidate orders with the same items. In operations with low picks per order, batch picking can greatly reduce travel time by allowing the picker to make additional picks while in the same area.
*Zone Picking – Breaking up the picking area into individual sections, or zones. Order pickers are assigned to a unique zone and only pick items located in that area. Orders move from one zone to another, which is why this method is also known as “pick and pass.” This approach is most effective in large operations with high total numbers of SKUs, high total numbers of orders, and low to moderate picks per order. Separate zones also provide for specialization of picking techniques such as having automated material handling systems in one zone and manual handling.
*Wave Picking – Also known as parallel picking, zone picking is a variation of the previous two methods where all zones are picked simultaneously and the items from each zone are later matched, or consolidated, to make complete orders. Operations with high total number of SKUs and moderate to high picks per order may benefit from wave picking. Wave picking may be used to isolate orders by specific carriers, routes, or zones.
Find an Outsourced Solution
It may be valuable for you to use a 3rd party shipping and fulfillment partner. You will want to evaluate their shipping performance, logistical support, and your ability to provide robust customer service through this 3rd party to your customers. The benefit of using a 3rd party allows you to focus on your business and letting a shipping and fulfillment expert handle that aspect of your business for you.
eShipper is a complete web-based shipping solution that allows businesses to easily ship and save on all of their day to day shipping requirements. We allow you to focus on your business, while we easily manage your shipping and fulfillment processes.