More and more of the UK's shopkeepers are shutting up shop on the high street and focusing their attention on the millions of people they can put their goods to via the internet. One of our Clients, Crafty Arts, did just that by gradually closing their stores to focus on online sales instead. To read about the Crafty Arts and Peoplevox success story, click here.
What is different about efulfilment?
Companies that used to run a shop didn't have to worry about picking, packing and shipping the right things. The customers came to them and they just had to worry about making sure the shop looked presentable and the products were in the right locations.
The shop window may have moved but for a lot of warehouses we walk into that are doing efulfilment the shelves haven't. If you store all of your products on shelves with items of the same SKU (stock keeping unit) together and always put things in the same places then you are guilty of error 101:
You are not a shop, you are a warehouse.
For efulfilment to work best, a conscious decision needs to be made to change this mindset. Quite often we find that online retailers who haven't ever run a retail store turn to the best practices in logistics much earlier. Doing things because that's the way you always have is not the way forward, not in this economy!
Which brings us on to the 4 easy steps for efulfilment success.
Choosing where to locate your products used to be about attracting a customer's attention but now it’s about reducing travel time. Make sure that your fastest moving stock is closest to your pack bench. Your best sellers may change fairly regularly so your stock locations will need to change too.
efulfilment isn’t always suited towards the traditional pallet racking you see in warehouse stock photos. If you are growing like stink you may need to change your layout very soon, add a mezzanine or even change warehouse location entirely. Things like stackable bins, however, make it easier to cope with rapid efulfilment growth.
Stop trying to remember where everything is and start knowing! Implementing a logical location coding system will help with this. Recording the exact shelf location of stock adds an extra process to your order picking and put away which means it can slow you down. The only real benefit is for new warehouse pickers who can follow the logical warehouse location coding to find stock for the first time.
Here is an example of location coding for efulfilment. Using letters and numbers to build up a logical path that pickers can follow helps new people to learn their way around quicker.
Challenge the way you despatch your parcels. When you first started out you had to trudge down to the Post Office but now the parcel carriers are coming to you. Thinking intelligently about how you tackle delivery is critical to successful efulfilment.
If you are interested in challenging the way you are choosing carriers then we highly recommend attending The Delivery Conference hosted by Metapack every year. We’ve been attending them for the past 5 years and they haven’t disappointed yet. You can see our highlights for 2015 here. To get the most out of your warehouse, you may wish to consider pairing your WMS with an EPOS system such as Futura, a Peoplevox partner. You can read about how our integrated systems are currently working for This is it here.