This is the busiest time of the year and from a business standpoint perhaps the most lucrative, especially for small and medium sellers. As consumers shop for gifts, e-commerce sellers are seeing a huge increase in demand. Sellers must ensure sufficient stock and ensure that orders are filled transparently until they reach the end consumer. This is where the warehouse management system comes in.
What is a warehouse management system?
A warehouse management system is a solution that provides visibility into all of a company’s inventory and manages end-to-end supply chain fulfillment operations. It includes inventory tracking, task management, order picking and packing, inventory management, and shipping procedures. A warehouse management system increases overall work efficiency, allowing shipments to reach customers quickly. Since the holiday season brings an increase in demand, it is essential to improve the efficiency of the warehouse management system. Here is how it can be done.
Inventory management and distribution
Inventory management is one of the main steps to consider when it comes to improving the efficiency of the warehouse management system. For e-commerce processing, logistics platforms will need to separate seasonal inventory – that is, items that experience increased demand during the holiday season – from the rest of the inventory and categorize them into different categories. Planning and executing this separation well in advance of the holiday season will ensure timely deliveries and avoid a shortage or excess inventory.
With the holiday season window being short and sellers will be looking for maximum returns, it’s crucial to make the right arrangements to ensure the right shipment gets to the right customer. If a small seller is struggling to effectively handle the growing volume of orders, they can use third-party fulfillment platforms with wide PIN reach and multiple email partners to ensure timely deliveries.
In addition, platforms can also use SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) to make it easier to find available items. In fact, SKUs are crucial for effective inventory planning and management because they allow item tracking. They also increase operational efficiency by reducing the time workers spend identifying and selecting products. Logistics and fulfillment platforms can also ensure that fast-turning SKUs are easily accessible to facilitate quick order picking and packing.
Analysis, management of non-delivery reports and transparent order return system
Gone are the days when every function, be it inventory management, storage or order picking, was done manually. Today, as technology takes over the world, almost all logistics and warehousing functions have been automated, allowing fulfillment platforms to deploy manpower for larger tasks. Using cutting-edge technology for real-time analytics will provide sellers with accurate consumer information, enabling them to make informed decisions and improve operational efficiency.
Also, since the holiday season is the busiest time with short delivery windows, the chances of non-delivery are higher. To avoid delivery delays and errors, fulfillment platforms should have a system for managing non-deliveries. Automating the entire process, ensuring that all undelivered shipments are handled in one place, rapid action by courier partners, and real-time connectivity with buyers are effective ways in which platforms- forms can reduce non-delivery reports. Given the speed at which technology is being incorporated into fulfillment operations, deliveries of drones and automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which are already starting to be tested by industry giants, will soon be among the regular operations.
Online sellers should have a hassle-free return policy. It’s best to keep a window for return orders as they are typically higher during the holiday season, given erratic consumer buying behavior. Using the services of a third-party fulfillment platform that can manage the end-to-end process seamlessly can help streamline operations, improve system efficiency, and drive business.
Although the holiday season increases demand, it can be a trying time for sellers, especially those who are new to the market. Managing and running warehouses during the holiday rush requires meticulous planning and organization. Anticipating demand, building relationships with courier companies or third-party order fulfillment platforms, and managing inventory will increase the management aspect of the warehouse and the efficiency of the business as a whole. Driving holiday sales is all about combining the right strategies and leveraging the right technology and the right partners.
(The writer is CEO and co-founder of Shiprocket)