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How to Set up an eCommerce Warehouse for Efficiency


boxes making their way down the conveyor belt on their way to customers.

Did you know that the estimated number of eCommerce business websites is between 12 million and 24 million? Additionally, 93.5% of internet users globally have made product purchases online. Also, there’s an estimate that 95% of purchases by 2040 will be made through eCommerce stores.

Given these numbers, it’s an exciting time to be a warehouse manager in the eCommerce industry. However, with so much competition out there, you might feel stressed about organising proper warehouse management and the order fulfilment processes.

Fortunately, by setting up your eCommerce warehouse for efficiency, you can make your warehouse more streamlined and productive. In this article, we’ll review what strategies you can use to accomplish this and be more efficient and successful than ever.

What an eCommerce Warehouse Is For

An eCommerce warehouse is the fulfilment centre and distribution centre and where the storage of eCommerce physical goods occurs before the seller sells them online. ECommerce warehousing includes various elements, such as storing products safely and securely and tracking which location items are in. These elements also include tracking when products arrived, what quantity there is of the products, and how long the products have been in stock.

How to Set Up Your eCommerce Warehouse for Efficiency

When you run a warehouse or multiple warehouses for eCommerce, there are several strategies you can use to ensure you are running it efficiently. Whether you are an operations manager or warehouse manager, you’ll benefit from the following strategies for inventory management.

Optimise the Storage and Layout

One of the best eCommerce warehouse efficiency strategies is to optimise the storage and layout of your eCommerce warehouse and ensure an effective picking system that operates in real-time to your business’s needs. This relates to warehouse slotting. Slotting is a process in which you identify the best storage location for each of the eCommerce products in an inventory.

Through slotting optimisation, warehouse workers can pick orders more quickly. Consequently, this will assist in enabling the same-day or next-day delivery of eCommerce orders. These are popular eCommerce options. Additionally, this strategy ensures that you are using your warehouse storage space as efficiently as possible.

Critical Considerations

There are critical things to take into consideration when you are optimising the storage and layout of your eCommerce warehouse. While many warehouse managers only calculate how much storage space they’ll need, there’s much more to consider.

  • You need to think about receiving. Receiving involves labelling, quality control checks, and uploading.
  • You should also consider storage in the long term. To anticipate growth, you should plan on having extra storage space.
  • Forward staging is an important consideration, too. This means incorporating space (for at least the number of orders you would usually need in a day).
  • Additionally, consider shipping. Shipping includes the breaking down of larger pallets, labelling, quality control, packing, and shipping. Finally, consider having an extra area for “dead” stock and returns.
Think About Essential Equipment

Depending on the business model, volume, and products you are shipping out from your eCommerce warehouse, you might need certain pieces of equipment. But, generally speaking, an eCommerce fulfilment warehouse or warehouse has the same goals.

These goals include improving visibility, having your flow of goods be as efficient as possible, and maximising space. Additionally, they include doing all this in such a way that it’s safe for the goods and your staff.

There are four basic warehouse equipment types.

  1. One is storage equipment, which can be anything from small drawers and bins to large racks and shelves.
  2. Another type is material handling equipment. Again, this is a broad category. It includes positioning, storage, unit load, and transport equipment.
  3. Then there’s packing and shipping equipment. This includes anything you would need to label, package, and assemble orders so that they’re prepared for shipping.
  4. Finally, there’s barcoding equipment. This includes barcode readers, as well as accompanying eCommerce software, labels, and printers.
Embrace Automation

The automation of an eCommerce warehouse system includes the use of different technological solutions. For example, barcode scanners can eliminate cycle counts and assist in streamlining picking while improving accuracy. You can also use machines for repetitive, mundane tasks.

For example, you could use a machine to break down pallets, saving you time and, therefore, money. Another technological solution is conveyor belts. With these, you can move heavy containers safely from one warehouse area to another. This eliminates the need to have someone carry stock. Therefore, there will be less strain on your employees.

Alternatives to conveyor belts include pallet jacks and lift trucks. These can realise jobs safely, easily, and quickly.

Another way to embrace automation is to use a laser DIM-weight scanner. With it, you can calculate shipment measurements automatically. This speeds up the shipping process and ensures accuracy.

Optimise Pick Paths

Bulk orders used to be the main types of orders that warehouses used to handle. However, as eCommerce has become more popular, warehouse managers are finding that they’re dealing with smaller orders. Sometimes, they even have to deal with individual items. This means that their picking strategy has to be more efficient than ever.

In this case, warehouse management system software can be useful. However, whether you are automating or creating your pick paths yourself, here are some best practices you should use.

  • First of all, know what the different types of order picking methods are. These include zone, batch, and wave picking. By knowing what each of them is and how they’re different from each other, you can make the right decision when choosing which one to use.
  •  Second, when you are fulfilling orders, do this in a specific way. This is a way in which you are picking individual items in a specific area before you start doing work in the other area.
  • Third, there’s a rule for how to store items that people often purchase together. In this case, store them so that they’re near each other.
  • Fourth, ensure that your picking order is linear in your eCommerce warehouse setup. Warehouse employees should finish their picking run in a specific type of location. This location should be close to where items are finally shipped.
  • Fifth, if you notice that your employees are frequently crossing paths or backtracking, this means there’s something wrong with your pick paths. In this case, change them.
Establish Guidelines for Your Warehouse

Another way to make your eCommerce warehouse more efficient is by establishing some guidelines and policies for the workers at your warehouse. Thinking about picking paths is only the beginning. You also need to consider order accuracy/quality control, workflow, and safety procedures.

Put together guidelines for safety procedures. You should establish—in writing—what safety procedures your employees must follow. Create a well-documented, single workflow guide. In it, cover all the steps, which might include picking, packing, shipping, and more. Note that your setup will dictate much of your workflow.

You should also establish guidelines for accuracy and quality control. To do this, for each stage of quality control, establish guidelines.

Start with receiving. To come up with these guidelines, ask several questions. Ask, “Before someone returns an order, what is the acceptable breakage level?” Additionally, ask, “How can we ensure order accuracy?” Also ask, “How will we process returns?”

Regarding accuracy, ask, “How will spoilage and breakage be reported?” Also ask, “Will we use statistical checking or check each item?” Note that this second option is inefficient.

Finally, you should establish guidelines regarding shipping. To come up with these guidelines, ask several questions. Ask, “In the order, are all the items present?” Also ask, “Are the items packaged appropriately?” Additionally, ask, “Does the item’s label address match the original order’s address?” Finally, ask, “Is the shipment method (air, ground, etc.) accurate?

Staff Training

Another way to make your warehouse more efficient is by ensuring that you train your staff. By doing this, you’ll be providing your employees with the key skills they need to work efficiently and quickly. The money you spend on training your staff will pay off over time.

It will pay off in you having a safer work environment, fewer mistakes, efficiency, and speed.

Looking For eCommerce Warehouse Solutions?

Now that you’ve learned how to set up your eCommerce warehouse for efficiency, you might have decided that you are looking for a solution that will make your eCommerce warehouse more efficient. In this case, look no further than Bowen Storage.

If you like reading this article you may also be interested in:

Reverse Logistics: 12 Things You Should Know About

Environmentally Friendly Warehousing: A Complete Guide

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