Look at the most successful eCommerce businesses and you’ll start to notice a pattern: they’re all really good at logistics. Sure, you’ve got to have products people want to buy and a website that makes it easy to do so, but try to keep customers coming back if you don’t deliver their order accurately and on time, and you’ll soon see why the warehouse is where it’s at.
But you probably already know that. In fact, we’re guessing, if you’re reading this blog, that you’re well-acquainted with phrases like ‘pick path’ and you understand the importance of efficient warehouse design. But even a fulfilment process that usually runs like clockwork can struggle to keep up when order volumes spike at the end of the year.
At this point, with 9.9 just passing by and big sale days – 10.10, 11.11, 12.12, Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, you’re not going to be contemplating a major overhaul of your pick and pack system, but you can still make a few small tweaks to minimise the risk of a pileup. Here are some handy tips.
1. Don’t get caught without packing supplies
Imagine being part-way through a shift only to find out you’ve run out of labels. The horror! Luckily this is an easy mistake to avoid. If you haven’t already done so, stock up on extra packaging, labels and other consumable requirements you have.
2. Beat backlogs with extra warehouse hours
Now is not the time to be clocking off at 5pm. Increase your warehouse operating hours if you can. Adding an evening shift will help you stay on top of increased order volumes, since most online shopping occurs between 6-9pm, and adding a Saturday shift will ensure you don’t face a massive backlog on Monday morning.
3. Set ULD’s aside for your biggest sales days
If you rely on unit loading devices, or cages, it’s a good idea to set some aside before 10.10, 11.11 (Singles’ Day), 12.12, and Cyber week (November 23-December 2) . Try using pallets as an interim solution in the meantime.
4. Pick for delivery speeds and destination
To help keep fulfilment times down, put Christmas stock and popular in-season SKUs within arm’s reach and pick orders according to delivery service type and location. For instance, same-day delivery orders should be picked in batches to ensure they’re ready in time for the carrier’s pickup window, and interstate orders should be prioritised ahead of metro ones.
5. Supercharge packing with Scan to Print
Without automation, it can be hard to speed up the packing process, but Shippit recently introduced a new label-printing feature that can help. Now, instead of having to confirm a quote and print a label in two separate steps, you can scan the barcode on the packslip to confirm and print the label in a single action. This action also moves the order from the New Orders tab to the Ready To Ship tab.
6. Presort packed orders by delivery destination
You can shorten the overall processing times and get your parcels delivered faster by presorting them based on destination in the warehouse. ULDs with presorted parcels can be cross-docked and loaded directly onto line-haul trucks, rather than waiting around in courier depots.
7. Become best friends with your courier partners
If you’re not already on a first-time name basis with your courier partners, you soon will be, because one of the best ways to reduce delivery delays is to stay in constant contact with couriers.
Ask your Shippit account manager to lock in regular pick-ups with your local drivers so you won’t miss a collection if they get busy, and give your couriers a heads up if you anticipate any changes in your order volume, so they can make sure everything will fit in the driver’s vehicle.
You should also check our Carrier Updates Page to stay across any courier network delays, and check international flight schedules and public holidays for potential snags in cross-border shipments.
Of course, one of the best things you can do is to switch to express and same-day carriers in the final weeks and days before big sale events.