The days of single-channel warehouse operations are disappearing. Companies that only sold to other companies or just to customers are transforming into companies that sell to everyone. While this opens up new markets and business, it can adversely affect your warehouse operations and create customer service issues.
If your current warehouse is designed for one type of fulfillment, and you’retrying to adapt to multiple new methodsof fulfilling orders, this change may cause inefficiencies and errors. And the reality - it will only get worse as you add new fulfillments processes and volume. If this is you, it’s time to take a step back and examine your entire materials flow.
The best place to examine first is how you pick, pack and ship items.
There are different ways to pick, pack and ship, and you may need to use multiple types to efficiently operate your warehouse. We’ve provided a few of the more common methods and the how they can be used in your operation:
Order Picking– This is the traditional and most common method where one person picks an entire order. This method is most effective with medium-size orders that may need to be over-packed or can be picked straight onto pallets. If they need to be over-packed, they would typically be brought to a packing station and then scanned into shipping boxes. Shipping can be either parcel or LTL, depending on the size of the shipment and customer requirements.
Multi-Order Picking– This method combines multiple orders that are picked together and then separated by order into different totes during the picking process. Smaller orders and items fit this method. The number of orders that can be picked at one time with a single pass through the warehouse is limited to the cart/trolley that is used for picking. Typically, these orders are moved to a packing/shipping station for shipping.
Bulk Picking– This method combines multiple orders, and the total quantity for each item is picked without separating by order. Special promotions where only one or a few items are being ordered by many customers is an example were this method may be used. After picking, the items would be brought to the packing/shipping station for shipping.
Pick/Pack/Ship– This method combines all three functions into a single-person process. Pick/Pack/Ship requires that the shipping method and weights be determined prior to picking and can be used on smaller to mid-size orders where items may need to be over-packed or shipped individually. The worker would pick directly into the shipping container and print all necessary documents using a packing/shipping station.
No matter the method,packing verificationmay be necessary depending on the characteristics of your item. Knowing what is in each box will assist in determining hidden shortages and provide a much more accurate shipping rate.
Shipping is an area that can save you money, especially with theability to rate shoponce the order is packed. With the constant changes to how carriers are calculating rates(dimension “DIM” weight being a major method), the better the information you can provide the carrier, the more accurate the quote. Carriers can charge back for an incorrectly rated shipment, so it’s best to rate the shipment with not only with weight but the package dimensions to avoid those chargebacks.