How to improve your order picking operation
When it comes to running an ecommerce-based business, your picking and packing operations are some of the most critical operations of them all. Even if your business is still new and your warehouse is a shelf in a closet or spare room, your business will grow in time, and you will need to consider the best and most efficient ways to process your orders. Here are some of the ways in which your picking process may be slowing you down – or may slow you down in the future.
There Are Too Many Obstacles in Your Way
One of the worst offenses when it comes to sabotaging your own picking process is the failure to notice and act on obstacles that are in your way. Think about where each of your products are located, then think about the route you take from those products back to the area where the order is packed for shipping. If you must go out of your way to retrieve items, you’re losing precious seconds that can really add up over the course of a day (or week!) and effect your operation’s efficiency.
Your Frequent Sellers are Too Far from the Packing Area
Similarly, think about the products you sell most often as well as the products you sell least often. Consider keeping the fast-sellers near the packing area and the ones that tend to spend more time on the shelves farther away. This way, the majority of your orders will take only moments to pick; the ones containing seldom-ordered products will take a little longer, but because those orders are few and far between, it will still speed up your efficiency.
You’re Using an Outdated Software System
Software plays a critical role in order management, and this is true even of the picking process. Think about the CRM or the OMS system you are using right now and whether it is considered up-to-date when compared with the latest versions being used by major companies. Your CRM/OMS should help you make your sorting and picking more efficient – not less. If you find that your software is outdated – or if you find that it just doesn’t offer you the features that you need to do your very best – it may be time to replace it.
You’re Managing Your Inventory Poorly
Finally, if you aren’t managing your inventory correctly, this is going to have a tremendous impact on the entirety of your business – not just picking. If you run out of a hot seller because you don’t keep track of your inventory digitally (or because you don’t count your inventory frequently enough), this will cause serious backorders, clog up your packing line, and drastically damage your relationships with buyers. Make sure your inventory storage space or warehouse is big enough to keep everything organized, that it is climate controlled to protect your product, and that you are tracking your inventory digitally to prevent under- or overstock issues.
Though the picking process may seem menial when compared to other important operations, the truth is that it is just as important as packing your shipments correctly or taking year-end inventory. If you find that you simply do not have the time or resources to improve your software or inventory space, then it may be time to consider outsourcing your picking, packing, and shipping operations to a trusted professional.