Order fulfillment is the central concern for businesses navigating the post-Amazon marketplace. Modern consumers demand quick shipments. While most are willing to wait up to seven days for deliveries, a confluence of e-commerce-inspired trends are quickly shrinking this window, according to research from logistics giant UPS. Increasingly large numbers of shoppers expect enterprises to offer same-day or next-day shipping options. This has forced distribution centers to pare down their processes to emphasize speed while also maintaining accuracy. With the rise of cutting-edge technology like the delivery drones, this shift will likely continue to unfold over the foreseeable future.
Organizations can meet the growing demand for speed while future-proofing their operations by incorporating some of these burgeoning order-fulfillment best-practices:
Speed up order processing
Effective order processing is essential to supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction. Enterprises that cannot move from order collection to execution in a timely fashion lose business. An estimated 75 percent of consumers are willing to pay a premium for early delivery options, UPS discovered. When these individuals do not receive the service they have paid for, they look elsewhere. Organizations can keep these customers happy by scaling down order processing workflows. How?
It all comes down to eliminating manual processes whenever possible, according to researchers at Gartner. Order-taking workflows involving fax or even email are experiencing rapid obsolescence, as consumers further embrace easy-to-use web portals. Of course, this is only part of the equation. When orders enter the system, they should move immediately to the fulfillment stage – automated data-capture tools are the most effective solution here, as they facilitate smooth, accurate processing operations that require little human intervention.
Streamline picking workflows
Picking technology has improved in recent years with the development of workable automated systems. However, adoption isn't keeping pace with innovation. A mere 6 percent of distribution divisions employ fully automated picking technology, according to research from Modern Materials Handling. While 24 percent have integrated such systems into their fulfillment processes, a vast majority still maintain manual item retrieval workflows. This methodology, as well as the mixed picking approach, weighs down the supply chain, Zebra and Supply Chain Services found.
Businesses should do away with these strategies and implement more efficient alternatives. This may involve making substantial investments in automated technology or reconfiguring the warehouse to improve productivity. For example, most pickers spend 70 percent of their time navigating aisles. Reducing aisle dimensions or moving inventory closer to packaging and shipping operations can address this issue.
Embrace technological innovation
The aforementioned best-practices are tied directly to this final overarching strategy: embracing innovation. Businesses hoping to bolster their order fulfillment processes can only do so much with the tools on hand. At some point, adopting advanced warehousing technology of becomes necessary, as many organizations have figured out. That is why more than half are expected to increase investments in warehouse information systems and one-quarter are setting aside more funds for robotics projects, according to research from Modern Material Handling and Peerless Research Group. This kind of forward-thinking approach bolsters operations, improves customer satisfaction and lays the groundwork for future success.
Is your organization ready to maximize its order fulfillment capabilities via the latest warehousing technology? Connect with F&A Data Systems. We offer advanced warehouse management systems capable of moving your businesses forward. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.