So how do the retailers cope with the peak demand? As consumers become more demanding, how do the online fulfilment operations meet shorter delivery times? As the rise of internet shopping changes so does the shape of the market. Fulfilling online orders means smarter processes throughout the operation.
According to The Telegraph, online sales increased 10.1% year-on-year, but fell on the month by 7.2%; accounting for approximately 14.6% of all retail spending.
There has also been a change to how consumers shop. Home delivery grocery shopping has been embraced by the UK consumer but new channels such as ‘click and collect’, as well as services that promise to deliver orders placed before midnight to store or a home address the next day, are starting to become the norm in the UK. Stores with no permanent physical presence on the high street or out of town shopping parks, such as ASOS and Amazon, took nearly 50p in every £1 spent with online retailers in 2015, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. With consumer spending almost £1 in every £5 of their shopping via the internet it is not unanticipated that fulfilment operation across the UK is feeling the pressure.
So what can you do?
A thorough process audit before peak will give you a good understanding of improvements that need to be made, for example the order picking process has become an important part of the supply chain process. It is the most labour-intensive activity for almost every warehouse. Order picking is the process of pulling items from inventory to fulfil a customer order. Evaluate your process and layout individually and in respect to their interaction. Looking first at process evaluation, start by tracing both product flow and order fulfilment flow through the warehouse to identify all areas where bottlenecks or backlogs occur. One of the basics of operating a well-run warehouse is the foundation of a well thought out warehouse layout. A layout that provides a solid base can lead to improved productivity and control of the accuracy of the overall operation. Conversely, a poor layout can lead to a myriad of issues and concerns. (Accuracy improves, better productivity is instant and the staff morale is higher as they get more done, in less time with less work.)
Packaging Materials Audit:
Packaging that is too bulky, the wrong shape, or takes up too much shelf space is unlikely to impress the consumer or be a smart process for your operation. Looking at the type of packaging you use can not only improves efficiency but will also reduce costs; can you change from a box to a mailer? Will an integrated void fill system help reduce packaging? Using the correct packaging will decrease damages and reduce the return rate throughout the operation.
Have you gained consumer feedback on your packaging? Do they find the packaging attractive? Are they happy with the way it was packaged? What improvements would they like to see? Gaining consumer feedback will not only eliminate unnecessary packaging but could also improve consumer experience which will potentially lead to a smaller returns rate.
If you are spending too much money on warehouse storage then why not try using a ‘just in time’ service which offers flexibility for your operation, you will avoid overspending on unwanted stock. In off-peak periods, you can take a closer look at your packaging operation which can result in significant savings for your business. A standard size pallet requires 13 square feet of storage space and when you are using multiple pallets you need a large warehouse which has a substantial cost involved. Whether you’re short of storage space or you want to improve cash flow within the business, outsourcing the storage of your products and packaging is a viable alternative.
Struggling with operating speed in the peak period can be a costly and time consuming issue. Some of these options may be worth considering to reduce the pressure on your team throughout peak.
You may also like our blog on: A smarter warehouse is an efficient warehouse!
Carlton Packaging are packaging suppliers committed to increasing customer profitability through smarter packaging.
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