We now live in a digital world where everything we want and need lies in the power of the internet. Consumers are now embracing technology and enjoying the ease of ordering things online from their electronic devices. If eCommerce businesses want to grow, then they have to embrace eCommerce warehousing.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce which is also known as Electronic Commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. All the services provided are conducted online including the transaction of data, money and funds.
There are different kinds of eCommerce merchants which can be classified in three categories: digital products, service-based e-tailers and stores that sell physical goods. Digital products or e-goods are those items that are in digital formats like online courses, software and ebooks. Service-based e-tailers are services that can be purchased online and this includes hiring educators, freelancers and consultants through online portals. Stores that sell physical goods include clothing, furniture and groceries. Users buy the physical goods through the online store’s website and once the user has made the purchase, they wait for their items to be delivered.
What is eCommerce Warehousing?
eCommerce warehousing refers to the storage of the physical goods that will be sold online. eCommerce warehousing ensures that there is space to keep your stock, and that your stock is being stored in a safe and secure manner. It also keeps track of the status of stock inventory as well as the movement of goods. This allows the management of availability and reordering of more products before they run out.
There has been a rapid increase in eCommerce businesses, but the number of warehouses available has not grown to accommodate the increase. Businesses need to be aware of this and respond by increasing efficiency and productivity so that they are able to fulfill customer expectations.
eCommerce Warehousing Practices to Begin Implementing
Online retailers need to be able to ship out the right products to the right customers at an accelerated rate. Consumers expect to receive their orders days after clicking the “checkout” button. This could prove difficult for some businesses. By implementing the following eCommerce warehousing practices, your business will be able to handle and fulfill customer order expectations.
1. Adapt to Chaos
This strategy might sound a little chaotic, but to achieve order in the warehouse then this chaotic strategy is the answer. This storage process is completely random, it involves shelving incoming freight wherever there is available space for it, once shelved it is logged immediately in the warehouse management software. This strategy saves time as you don’t waste time looking for ideal places to store inventory.
2. Set Minimum Inventory Points
Businesses need to have smart precautions that dictate the minimum inventory they need to have at all times. When they order too many products it could be harmful for the profits and lead to business losses due to high inventory carrying costs.
They should avoid not having enough stock as this could force customers to go elsewhere due to out-of-stock notices. eCommerce businesses should consider having good software that allows them to have re-order points, which will notify them once a product reaches a specific threshold.
3. Use WMS
Warehouse Management Software (WMS) is a system that offers full visibility into supply chain operations and business’ inventory. This software’s features can optimize an eCommerce warehouse. WMS offers real-time tracking for your inventory availability and forecast when your stock will run out. WMS can then reorder products before a shortage occurs. It is able to manage and keep track of supply chain operations as well as ensure that all your eCommerce operations are more efficient.
4. Distribute inventory
Distributing all your inventory throughout multiple warehouses reduces shipping costs and it translates to quicker delivery times for customers. When a customer places an order, they are automatically prepared and sent to a distribution center that is closest to the customer. This practice automatically improves the customers experience as they can receive a cost-efficient delivery.
5. On-demand Warehousing Alternatives
There has been a rapid increase in on-demand services and products such as Uber, Netflix and iTunes, it comes as no surprise that there is also on-demand warehousing. On-demand warehousing offers businesses the option to rent storage space when they need it, instead of owning them. This is beneficial for seasonal sales or pop up events.
6. Implement Adaptable Pack Zones
eCommerce warehousing should always be flexible. Warehouses should implement strategies and plans to be able to adapt to consumer demands, changes in how they order as well as sales forecasts. Warehouses should utilize warehouse spaces, not only during peak seasons, but also use it for other functions when it’s less busy. They can use existing areas as pack zones; allowing pickers to complete order packing faster. It also reduces touchpoints and makes deliveries quicker.
7. Find The Right Picking Method
eCommerce has made the process of picking individual order almost impossible. They need to implement strategies to pick the different types of orders that they receive like zone picking. This allows orders to be fulfilled in less time. Using technology in the pick process also guarantees efficiency and accuracy.
8. Use Incentives
Staff members need to be productive to achieve order fulfillment at faster rates. The fear of being unemployed might motivate workers to do their job, but it’s not enough for them to achieve faster delivery times. Implementing incentive-based programs motivates all workers to increase their productivity levels as well as the progress they make.
When businesses start online stores, they tend to fuss and stress about attracting customers and daily operations that they neglect eCommerce warehousing. eCommerce warehousing plays a huge role in the success of the business and implementing practices early on will create better warehousing experiences and better manage customer expectations.
Find out about the 6 eCommerce Challenges 3PL Can Help You Tackle.