3 Ways Automation Can Improve Holiday Order Fulfillment
Order Fulfillment Tips to Keep in Mind as the Holidays Near
The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and warehouses and distribution centers will soon be bustling to get online orders out the door. Order fulfillment during the holiday season is especially challenging for those warehouses that rely exclusively on manual processes. Having staff run up and down aisles to fulfill orders is labor intensive and inefficient during times of normal volume; the strain on resources only intensifies when the holiday season hits.
At Taylored Services, we are warehouse and fulfillment experts. If you’re struggling to keep up with holiday demand, we wanted to share 3 ways warehouse automation can improve holiday order fulfillment.
Companies with automated warehouses typically have both a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and a Warehouse Control System (WCS). These are two separate applications that work together to manage inventory and move products. In recent years, however, companies are turning to a Warehouse Execution System (WES), which combines the functionality of WMS and WCS into a single application.
A WES is especially useful for fulfilling large, complex holiday orders with multiple products. In such cases, products within a single order may be dispersed throughout the warehouse, requiring numerous movements to retrieve everything. With control of material handling equipment, such as an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), and oversight over inventory, a WES optimally marries products to customer orders—regardless of complexity—while minimizing the number of movements needed to fulfill the order. With fewer moves, orders are more accurate and get out the door faster, keeping holiday shoppers happy and the warehouse running smoothly.
Reduced Need to Hire Seasonal Staff
Companies typically hire temporary warehouse staff to accommodate the surge in customer orders around the holidays. With a WES, there’s no need to rely as heavily on additional resources because it increases warehouse efficiency and coordinates automation, which eliminates the need to bring on extra workers. Plus, it allows companies to extend the workday beyond normal shift hours, to stay ahead of holiday demand.
Less Time Required to Prepare Orders for Shipment
Warehouses are not the only players in the supply chain that struggle during the holiday season. Carriers also stretch their resources and put fleets to the test because they’re not only transporting a higher volume of orders but meeting tighter delivery timeframes. And as always, the timeliness of deliveries is critical to customer satisfaction.
Warehouses can do their part in accelerating time to delivery through automation. A WES has built-in order planning processes, allowing shipment planners and dock coordinators to determine inventory and transportation availability and compare them to order demand. With the speed and accuracy of an automated system, companies can prepare orders in the proper sequence often just hours before a truck arrives. In a more conventional operation, this process needs to be done much further in advance and more space is needed to stage these large orders.
The challenges of holiday order fulfillment are only going to increase and get more complex over time. Growing companies with manual warehouses should consider automation in 2019, if they want to keep up with the competition.
Taylored Fulfillment Services is a fully integrated third-party logistics provider specializing in wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer unit fulfillment. Established in 1992 and headquartered in Iselin, New Jersey, they operate 1.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space strategically located near the nation’s busiest ports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York. Since its humble beginnings in 1992, Taylored Fulfillment Services has grown to become a national leader in distribution, fulfillment and warehousing.