Order fulfillment remains a touchy subject in the warehousing industry. Consumers want their packages and goods as quickly as possible, while companies look for ways to reduce their costs and increase efficiency. The latest statistics show 63 percent of consumers expect a standard delivery to arrive within three days. But that’s not all. 61 percent of online consumers expect orders placed by noon to qualify for same-day shipping and 64 percent of online consumers expect orders placed by 5 p.m. to qualify for next-day shipping. Keeping up with these demands is pushing some retailers to the breaking point.
Don’t let the stress of faster delivery times get you down. Use these tips to get your products out the door as quickly and as accurately as possible.
Nothing will impede your ability to fulfill orders like clutter. The more boxes and containers lying around, the harder it is for your team to do their job. Your workers are used to scanning their surroundings in search of the right container, tool, part or item. Make it easier for them to find what they need by getting rid of irrelevant containers and items that have no place in the loading dock.
One of the best ways to clear up the space is to use collapsible bulk containers. They are large enough to store dozens, if not hundreds, of smaller products while fitting perfectly onto a pallet for easy handling and shipping. The beauty of these containers is they fold up when they aren’t in use. Instead of leaving empty containers lying around, stack them on the side of the loading dock so they are always within reach without competing for your workers’ attention.
Don’t fall behind on regular cleaning and maintenance as well. Clutter, debris and trash sap productivity. Use this warehouse cleaning checklist to make sure the space is ready for human occupation at the start of every shift.
Increase Inventory Visibility
Product picking tends to be one of the most time-consuming aspects of fulfilling orders, especially when employees have to sort through thousands of different SKUs. The obvious solution is to increase visibility on the shelf, so workers can quickly recognize the item they need and return to the loading dock.
That’s why it’s best to utilize storage containers with open slats and industrial wire baskets that let you see inside. Baskets are perfect for storing large supplies and goods, such as fabric, consumer items, rubber and other industrial materials. You can also use these containers to collect and sort returns.
Industrial wire baskets come with wheels, which makes it easy to push your inventory around. They don’t require the use of a lift truck or forklift, which can take several minutes to the retrieval process. Just push the cart, and you can move large quantities of goods in just a few seconds.
For smaller items that may slip through the cracks, we recommend using plastic totes and metal bins with drop-down slats that reveal the contents of the container. Workers can easily peek inside until they find what they’re looking for.
Technology can also help you solve some of these challenges. Use real-time GPS trackers to locate specific items in your warehouse. Every SKU comes with its own unique tag. Employees can quickly search for the tag in the system. It will then appear on a map of the facility, along with directions for how to get there. This is the ideal choice when it comes to shipping expensive items. You won’t have to worry about certain items going missing or workers not being able to find what they need on the shelf.
The system will always choose the most efficient picking path, so the worker can grab the item as quickly as possible. It will also include directions for handling the item, so workers can grab tools or equipment along the way instead of having to make two separate trips.
There are several ways to increase order fulfillment times. It’s all about rearranging the space in a way that makes sense to you and your team. If these containers aren’t doing the trick, consider investing in a new warehouse management system to help close the gap.