How to Implement Overnight Shipping Even in the Bustling Holiday Season
The holiday season is in full swing and if you’re a business owner, then you’re trying to get online orders out the door as quickly as possible. But are you offering overnight shipping? If not, then you may be missing out on a lot of potential customers. So how can you as a small business implement overnight shipping in the busy holiday season without blowing your profit margin?
At Taylored Services, we’re shipping and fulfillment experts, so we wanted to give you these 7 tips to help you set up overnight shipping during the holiday season.
- Start with Order History Assessment
Examine order profiles going back at least 3 months. The information derived from an order history assessment is going to help you maximize your current layout, optimize pick zones, and balance the amount of product in forward pick areas. You’ll also see how long it takes to process common orders. You want to work backward from those cycle times to be ready for your order pickup cut-off times.
- Consider the Benefits of WMS vs. WES Solutions
Perhaps the biggest challenge in next-day fulfillment, especially for warehouses designed for filling large retail or wholesale orders, is that they are not nimble enough for overnight shipping. Many warehouse management systems (WMS) are designed to process orders in large batches—you can’t drop-in new orders until the batched orders are complete. That’s why many have started to turn to warehouse execution systems (WES). The WES takes in order data and creates a level flow of picking, replenishment, packing and other fulfillment activities, which is more conducive to fast, overnight shipping.
- Emphasize Inventory Accuracy
Good old-fashioned inventory accuracy is essential to effective next-day fulfillment. While this may seem obvious, it’s easier said than done in large e-commerce warehouses that might have thousands of SKUs, large forward pick areas to replenish, and seasonal or temporary workers to meet labor needs. Some WMS have added visual cues to screens to highlight where goods should be picked from or placed. These graphical cues help, but it often comes down to proper training and rigorous bar code data collection steps to ensure goods were put to the right location or picked correctly.
- Put Best Storage Practices in Place
Choices made in storage media and set up of bins also have an impact on how quickly and effectively fulfillment takes place. In forward pick areas storage media such as flow racks or put walls that allow for replenishment to take place on one side of the storage while picking takes place on the other can help avoid congestion. Another best practice is to right size bins for each picking. Locations that are too big can make it hard for pickers to quickly find an item within a spot, while locations that are too small are impractical because they are challenging to replenish efficiently.
- Pick Smarter
If you tend to have certain items that are ordered consistently and in large quantities, then a put wall can be an effective solution because it efficiently “pushes” full cases of inventory to the put wall where it can be picked with less travel compared to each picking into a cart. On the other hand, if your order profiles show high variability, fairly heavy volume, and involve many potential SKUs, a goods-to-person system can be an ideal solution. These systems are very “dense” in the way they store goods, using robotic sleds to travel along the top of the system to retrieve totes and bring the needed goods to a person consolidating the order.
- Robust Replenishment
Efficient picking methods will quickly hit a snag if forward pick areas aren’t replenished accurately or often enough. Demand-driven replenishment is essential to avoid shortages in forward pick areas. The replenishment logic in most WMS solutions is typically dynamic enough to keep forward pick areas sufficiently stocked.
- Examine Pack and Ship Areas
If you have separate pack out and ship out areas, then you could gain efficiencies by setting up a combined pack/ship station and outfitting workers with ring scanners so they can scan barcodes to ensure accuracy. Barcode validation integrated with a shipping solution is faster and more accurate than visually inspecting or cross-referencing packing lists.
No Single Solution
The good news for companies that want to implement overnight shipping this holiday season is that there are many potential systems and best practices that can help. That’s also the bad news—there are so many options it’s challenging to hit on the right blend of solutions. But, here’s one more piece of good news—you don’t have to figure it out alone. You can work with an experienced 3PL like Taylored Services who can recommend which solutions will be best for your company.
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.