'Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.’
Time is a prized resource and there is simply never enough of it. In the world of eCommerce, where so much can change in the space of a week, it is important for business owners to stay on top of their game. We have far too often found, however, that eCommerce business owners are wasting their time in the warehouse instead of using it wisely.
Of course, time spent propelling your company forward is never really ‘wasted’ time, but if it can be better spent elsewhere without sacrificing efficiency, is that not more important?
We’ve outlined 5 time-wasting scenarios with accompanying time-saving hacks. Why not see if you’re guilty of one or two or all five of these.
You are dealing with customer service calls and tickets
It’s pushing 7pm and you’ve already stayed later than you planned to. Before you shutdown the computer your email pings. It’s an unhappy customer, disappointed that the 12-pack of plectrums he ordered three days ago have not been delivered as promised.
Ever keen to maintain your reputation, you postpone your journey home and head to the warehouse to locate the customer order, manually counting stock.
With warehouse management software, the whereabouts of every stock keeping unit (SKU) in the warehouse is logged on the system. Not only will it provide an accurate count of how many 12-pack of plectrums you have in stock, it will also show the history of an order, highlighting every movement from pick to despatch. One search on the system should show whether an order has been despatched and why not if it hasn’t.
You are performing the stocktake
Delegation is not easy when it’s a company you have grown from nothing. As such, it is not uncommon to find the eCommerce business owner in the warehouse right through the early hours of the morning performing a stocktake.
Why? Because a stocktake is an important task and getting it wrong can interfere with so many processes further down the line. Incorrect stock figures lead to oversells, mispicks and very displeased customers.
A good test to see if you are falling victim to this: head into your warehouse and see how long it takes to find an item. If you can locate it quickly, you know the ins and outs far too intimately and have spent too many late nights walking those aisles!
[Related: 6 tips for performing an eCommerce stocktake]
If every item in your warehouse is barcode labelled, including the locations, performing a stocktake becomes not only much quicker but also more accurate. We are human and humans make mistakes. Even the most diligent business owner will miscount every now and then.
By using a barcode scanner during stocktake, every SKU is counted and reconciled against what should be in stock. What’s more, with a warehouse management system, stocktakes won’t need to be performed nearly as often because stock figures should already be accurate.
You’re delaying goods in reconciliation
Arguably, goods in is the most important process that happens in the warehouse because if inventory is counted in wrong it disrupts every process afterwards, as with a stocktake. So it makes sense, does it not, for an eCommerce business owner to want to oversee this task personally, and to be the one who reconciles against the purchase order.
The problem here, however, is that a slow goods in is almost as detrimental to an eCommerce business as a poorly done goods in. The longer it takes for new stock to be reconciled, the longer it takes before the company website and any marketplaces are updated. As such, this leads to a massive amount of missed sales opportunities.
[Related: How eCommerce companies should be buying]
A warehouse management system will automatically reconcile what has been received against what was ordered. All the owner has to do is enter the system and review the results. If there are any discrepancies they can be dealt with, if not then the stock can be updated across all platforms immediately.
You are managing staff churn
It’s no secret that there is a high churn rate amongst warehouse operators in eCommerce. Quite often this is because new staff are brought in to help at peak and then aren’t needed once the orders level out again. To ensure that all staff work to the same standards, it often falls on the business owner to oversee hiring and ensure that training is up to scratch.
In a big warehouse, training can take some time. Each operator needs to have at least a basic understanding of the warehouse layout and how pick, pack and despatch are performed.
With the right warehouse management system that is properly suited to the uniqueness of eCommerce warehousing, training new staff members can take as little as 15 minutes. So long as they follow the system designated actions, it is almost impossible for them to go wrong, which is especially ideal when hiring temp staff.
You’re negotiating deals on recycling
Another time waster for eCommerce business owners is spending time negotiating the best deal on your recycling. You have more paper in your warehouse than the Yellow Pages publishing house and it needs to be dealt with somehow before too many people trip and get full-body papercuts.
Not to mention that using this paper system to manage your backend is incredibly time-consuming and expensive. In fact, many business owners don’t realise just how much they’re spending on paper until they stop and do the maths.
Lose the paper! Yes, it may have treated you well when you were starting out, but you’re in the big eCommerce world now and you have thousands of companies to contend with. Paper systems are unreliable, costly and inefficient.
Deciding to automate your warehouse will show improvements almost immediately. One of our clients in the women’s fashion industry saved 3 hours a day by eliminating paper. Such time saved can be spent on more important tasks, like, managing the business!
>> If you can’t trust the humans you’ve hired, trust in an automated system
>> Acknowledge where you are getting involved in and decide if you’re really helping
>> Reduce training times with a warehouse management system
>> Get rid of paper!