The supply chain process is a key factor of a business’ success, but one that is often overlooked. A more efficient supply chain gets the right goods to the customer quicker, while trimming costs. Fast and reliable order fulfilment can make the difference between a one-off purchase and garnering a loyal source of repeat business for years to come.
Optimising your supply chain’s order fulfilment takes more than just improved processes. Order management software provides the tools you need to turn your good system into a great one. An excellent example is Amazon’s use of big data to provide predictive shipping. By tapping into data from traffic sensors and road networks, Amazon is able to factor accidents and bad weather into their delivery scheduling, and provide customers accurate, real-time updates on a package’s location and any delays.
To optimise your order picking and packing process, there are four steps to follow:
1. Assess your priorities
The first step is to outline every stage of your order fulfilment process, as you need to know exactly what you have to work with before you can improve it. This will help you determine which stages are the most vital, and which other ones could perhaps be combined or removed altogether through seamless improvements.
2. Identify areas that need work
Once you have your crucial stages, identify which ones are underperforming and by how much, so you know where best to focus your efforts. Your freight management software can help you monitor your supply chain and generate reports on the performance of each area. For example, maybe some of your pickers aren’t as efficient as others and could use more training, or maybe fragile goods take longer to ship because pickers are having to pack them while filling the order.
3. Set realistic goals
You need to set realistic goals for each improvement area. It’s unreasonable to demand a 400% increase in efficiency if all you do is slightly reorganise the shelves, and the pressure may lead to rushed mistakes. But when you set challenging but achievable goals, your pickers will feel motivated to reach and even surpass them.
Try using order management software to find the average order time, and from this calculate how many orders each picker should be able to fill in a day. As your efficiency increases with improved processes, gradually increase the quota to keep giving your pickers something to shoot for.
4. Put strategies into action
A solid way to improve your supply chain’s efficiency is to determine your most frequently picked products, and place these close to your loading dock to minimise walking distance. For ease of access, have your fast-moving products at floor level, instead of up on high shelves.
Your ecommerce software’s order management features offer plenty of optimisation options. Real-time shipping quotes, batch labelling, multi-carrier support, automatic packaging and low cost routing are all excellent ways to optimise both your pick and pack process and your overall supply chain.
Neto’s integrated ecommerce package along with the Neto Pick’n Pack app, enables you to easily manage large order volumes even if they require products from multiple different warehouses. With it you can streamline your supply chain processes with all the strategies outlined above, plus inbuilt shipping labelling, returns management, email notifications and more.
Neto Pick’n Pack is designed for mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. Neto also offers dedicated hardware to support the pick and pack process, such as the Linea Pro 5 and Bixolon.