This is the second installment of a 2-part article. View the first article here.
One of the most vital pieces of a successful e-commerce business is a functioning and efficient order fulfilment strategy. Companies need to transform their supply chains into information-driven value chains to keep up with the challenges that e-commerce brings. Implementing a successful order fulfilment strategy may seem straightforward in theory, but it is very often challenging to accomplish in practice.
Here are the remaining two tips that can help merchants/companies set up efficient order fulfilment strategies.
Tip #3: Using the right equipment
The order fulfilment process consists of different stages, and a mixture of warehousing technologies is needed so as to enable a seamless transition across these stages. For most companies, the challenge lies in identifying and implementing the correct equipment to support order fulfilment. For instance, it is important that companies consider factors such as order profile, picking volume, capital investment budget and available space before committing to a picking solution.
Central Lobão, a Portugal-based company of hand tools, power tools, equipment and accessories for the construction, protection equipment, agriculture and gardening markets, needed an automated warehouse system that could keep up with its growing business. Körber implemented a full deck solution comprising of a miniload storage and retrieval system, a conveyor system integrating goods receipt and order preparation with a pick-to-light system. All of it is managed by a warehouse management system (WMS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software. With the new warehouse system in place, Central Lobão has successfully increased picking productivity and throughput and has improved its accuracy rates.
Tip #4: Scalability
Customer preferences and purchasing decisions are often hard to predict, making it tough for companies to plan for inventory growth. As such, it is imperative that companies plan for sudden increase in orders by having an operation that can seamlessly scale up to handle the uptick in demand. In short, companies need to be able to handle demand peaks or to scale down on resources when demand subsides.
Third-party logistics company Bolloré Logistics wanted to maximize picking efficiency and storage density within a restricted warehouse space in Australia. Additionally, the company needed a solution capable of servicing a high-end luxury brand, handling several unique SKU profiles as well as ensuring detailed and value-added processing as part of the distribution to retail stores and online customers. Körber helped Bolloré overcome its order fulfilment challenges with the implementation of a goods-to-person Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) solution. Specifically, Bolloré reduced its picking time, improved order accuracy and increased the storage capacity of the warehouse. The solution also allows Bolloré to scale up their picking operation by deploying more robots should the business volume increase.
Online shopping is fast becoming a mainstream activity globally. As customers get accustomed to the convenience that e-commerce brings, the demand for better and quicker deliveries will only increase. Warehouses and fulfilment centers need to be optimized to handle even higher order volumes and to improve warehouse efficiency.
Ultimately, what enables successful and smooth order fulfilment processes is a mix of suitable warehousing technologies. With the help of supply chain professionals, companies that integrate automated solutions will likely find themselves ahead of their competition in the e-commerce race.