Order picking is perhaps the most crucial activity that unfolds within modern shipping and receiving facilities. The ascendance of e-commerce has elevated the exercise to an art form, forcing organizations to adopt more innovative approaches to picking in order to meet the needs of modern consumers, most of whom are willing to pay extra for speed, according to the National Retail Federation. However, this does not mean consumers compromise on the details. They expect orders to be accurate and may walk away from transactions entirely should they receive the wrong items.
With these variables in mind, businesses must ensure they offer optimal fulfillment services, and this involves investing in picking improvements. Here are some tried-and-true techniques and tools for bolstering picking operations:
Embrace batch and cluster
Travel accounts for 50 percent of all recorded picking hours, according to SupplyChain 24/7. With this in mind, many forward-thinking organizations adopt the batch and cluster picking method, which involves gathering multiple orders per trip and then sorting them immediately before packaging. This small operational adjustment can drastically reduce picking hours and negate the need for expensive technological solutions that achieve the same effect.
"An estimated 87 percent of warehouses are leveraging WMS platforms."
Implement hot zones
Warehouses often hold items with wildly different sales volumes. While some fly off the shelves, others collect dust, rarely requested by customers. However, these items often have a widespread effect on picking operations as they literally stand in the way of more desirable merchandise and therefore lay the groundwork for depressed picking volumes, or the number of articles gathered per location. Firms avoid this common warehousing problem by establishing hot zones which contain only oft-requested products, Multichannel Merchant reported.
Install warehouse management software
While the aforementioned solutions can certainly lead to picking improvement, there are all-encompassing tools that facilitate true transformation in shipping and receiving facilities: warehouse management solutions. These systems allow businesses to monitor all warehousing processes and use the resulting data to implement evidence-based improvements sure to support operational growth, according to the Supply Chain Leaders Academy. With WMS software, warehouse stakeholders can develop efficient picking pathways, implement advanced techniques like pick-for-light and foster an environment of continual improvement.
For these and other reasons, an estimated 87 percent of warehouses are leveraging WMS platforms, according to research from Logistics Management.
Organizations interested in using this technology to refine their picking practices should consider working with F&A Data Systems. We build cutting-edge WMS solutions that leverage technology from respected vendors like Dell, Microsoft and Oracle to support optimized picking strategies and catalyze growth across the enterprise.
Connect with us today to learn more about how our solutions.