Whether you’re aware of it or not, the global supply chain has a major influence on our lives. The packages you order online, the food you purchase from the grocery store, and the shoes you buy from the clothing store all had to be transported at one point or another. Unfortunately, the pandemic has left the global supply chain overburdened and unable to keep up with corporate and consumer demands. This is inconvenient for every party involved in the supply chain. As a result, companies cannot consistently meet consumers’ demand, consumers are forced to pay higher prices, and shipping companies struggle to deliver their products on time. Fortunately, businesses can take steps to optimize their section of the supply chain and take some burden off the shoulder of the global logistics industry.
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First Steps to Shipping
Before optimizing our order fulfillment process, we need to understand exactly how it works. Every company will have a slightly different logistics process depending on the product it deals with, the size of the labor force available, and how many orders they need to handle on any given day. Because of this individuality, the people who know how to best optimize your supply chain are the managers responsible for keeping it running. Likewise, the workers who engage with the supply chain day in and day out will likely have valuable insights on how it can be improved.
Generally speaking, though, there are three steps to order fulfillment in a warehouse. The first step is to aggregate and manage the information of an order. In this step, the order fulfillment center will receive details concerning what product has been ordered, where it will be shipped, and what shipping method it will be delivered with. Warehouse employees then take this information and confirm the product is in stock.
The second step in any shipping process is to pick, pack, and weigh the order before selecting a carrier to deliver the order. This is also the step where delivery routes are selected, and packages are strategically placed on delivery trucks depending on their final location. Once the order has been packed, and a carrier has been chosen, a shipping label will be created for the order’s final address.
The last step in the general shipping process is to deliver the package to its final destination. It is also a common courtesy for eCommerce companies to update customers with tracking information about their packages. This way, everyone is on the same page about the package’s current status.
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Prepare Your Warehouse
One of the most effective ways to improve your business’s supply chain is to reevaluate your warehouse’s organization constantly. Your business’s needs will fluctuate as it grows, and your warehouse operations need to reflect that. There are several ways of reorganizing your warehouse ranging from quick short-term solutions to solutions that require more investment but will have longer-lasting effects. For instance, something as simple as keeping the most ordered product in a simple-to-reach area for packing will greatly improve order fulfillment speed. However, a larger reorganization may be necessary if your warehouse’s layout hasn’t been rethought in a long time.
Another way your can prepare your warehouse to handle the struggles of the supply chain better is to invest in automation. Many warehouses and order fulfillment centers are investing in automation because it makes the workplace run more efficiently and safely. Automation is especially helpful in applications that deal with a large amount of data. Computers can crunch data much faster than humans and with far fewer errors. This is why shipping APIs are commonly used to integrate a warehouse’s order information database with its current inventory. As a result, AI will be able to identify a shortage in inventory or a more efficient delivery route quicker than most people could.
Common Mistakes in the Supply Chain & How to Avoid Them
In a work environment that moves as quickly as order fulfillment centers do, a lot can go wrong. For example, there can be unexpected inventory shortages, human error may result in a package being delivered to the wrong location, and much time wasted with inefficient layouts. Fortunately, each common warehouse issue has a fairly straightforward solution.
Investing in artificial intelligence can help you better manage your warehouse’s inventory and guarantee that your stock of products is always accurately managed. Encouraging your workers to take the time to double-check their work will reduce the number of human errors made greatly. And regularly reorganizing your warehouse’s layout can help you pack and ship orders more efficiently.