6 Essential Practices of E-commerce Warehousing
E-commerce isn’t the wave of the future—it’s already here, and continuing to grow by leaps and bounds each year. Industry giants like Amazon have set the gold standard in e-commerce. Now, customers expect nothing less from their online retailers.
This presents your organization with a unique challenge. You need to be agile enough to ship the right product to the right customer almost immediately after they click the “checkout” button. Plus, they usually expect to receive it within days, not weeks. The way to do that is to turn your traditional warehouse into an e-commerce warehouse. As experts in warehousing and order fulfillment, we wanted to offer 6 essential practices of e-commerce warehousing that can bring your organization up to speed:
- Embrace chaos.
It seems counterintuitive, but adding a little chaos can get your warehouse in order. The chaotic warehousing strategy was developed by Amazon. This method follows no logical shelving process. Instead, incoming freight is stored on any available shelf space and its location is immediately logged in the warehouse management software. Items are easily retrieved, and there’s no need to waste time finding the “perfect” location for incoming inventory.
- Target two-day shipping.
Major online and big-box retailers, including Amazon, Target, and Walmart, are successfully targeting two-day delivery times. So, customers have come to expect this as an option with most all online purchases (and they don’t want to pay extra for it, if possible). Start working towards the goal of offering two-day shipping as a standard. Otherwise, your customers will go to competitors.
- Combine warehouse locations.
E-commerce warehouses do not necessarily require a different location from warehouses that serve your brick and mortar customers. In fact, up to 70 percent of companies are combining all of their warehousing operations under one roof. The warehouse space is then divided into sections: one section for e-commerce order fulfillment, anther for store replenishment, another for B2B sales, etc.
- Implement adaptable pack zones.
Rigidity isn’t an option with e-commerce warehousing. All plans and strategies need to adapt to real-time data about consumer demand, ordering trends, and sales forecasts. There’s no need to waste resources on a warehouse just for peak seasons. Instead, existing areas can be converted to pack zones or stations, enabling fewer touchpoints and faster delivery.
- Find the right picking method.
The demand created by e-commerce has made the common practice of picking each individual order obsolete. E-commerce requires a strategy for picking different types of orders faster, such as zone pick-and-pass or multi-order pick to tote. Ultimately, this helps get more accomplished in less time. Adding technology to the pick process, like radio frequency scanners, can help ensure accuracy and create more efficiencies.
- Consider on-demand alternatives.
We are living in an on-demand society. Netflix gives us movies on demand, Uber gives us car rides on demand, and if we want to hear our favorite song right now, we turn to iTunes. So it should come as no surprise that on-demand warehousing is emerging. With this model you pay only for the warehouse services you need, when you need it, instead of owning distribution centers. It’s a flexible solution for keeping up with ebbs and flows of your organization’s e-commerce sales. Some companies even use on-demand services as their entire warehousing strategy, while others use it to supplement their existing logistics structure.
Traditional means of warehouse management are out-of-date. E-commerce is only going to grow exponentially in the years to come and customers will continue to expect more and more from their online shopping experience. Use the tips provided to help make sure you have a warehouse ready to meet that demand.
If you want to find out more about adopting an e-commerce warehousing strategy, then contact Taylored Fulfillment Services, 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, Taylored Fulfillment Services operates 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.