Order fulfillment seems simple on the surface: receive goods, put them in the right place, pick them, package them up and send them on their way. Of course, at every step of the process, there are an infinite number of things to be studied, designed and implemented. For a basic overview of standard warehouse practices, start at the very beginning with the goods-in process.
Behind the scenes
"Every action in the warehouse requires an equal reaction."
Moving items from point A to B is just the tip of the iceberg for warehouse professionals. Every action needs to have an equal and opposite reaction. In warehousing terms this means that every incoming item needs to have the right destination. Some items may have their own unique characteristics - such as being fragile or perishable - that require special rules. These and many other considerations can create a complicated system that can grow into an unruly mess on paper, in a spreadsheet or simply in one's memory.
At the end of the day, a successful, growing business needs to work at breakneck speed in the warehouse. But that doesn't mean these processes have to be painful, confusing and error-prone. Unlike with a paper-based system, a cloud WMS won't run out of space for your company's logistics rules, nor will it lose track of storage locations and SKUs. With fast implementation and a minimal startup cost, this remains the best way to improve your warehousing and fulfillment practices and allow your business to grow rapidly.
Front of the line
From the moment a shipment arrives to be prepared and delivered to customers, the goods-in process signifies the beginning of a very complex and time-consuming task for businesses - that is, if they are still using paper tracking systems or spreadsheets to manage their warehouse. With warehouse management software, every aspect of this process can be automated and streamlined and made intuitive for floor staff and management. Once you’ve implemented a Tier 1 cloud WMS, work on optimizing your procedures from the ground up.
The warehousing cycle begins with a shipment of bulk items from a supplier. From the get-go, the warehouse manager must know how he or she will quickly and accurately move incoming shipments to their appropriate location, keeping in mind:
- Basic item information: Have you received the correct items in the right quantity?
- Storage location: Will these items be moving out of the warehouse quickly? Or should they be placed in storage where they can be retrieved as needed?
- Final destination: Where will these items ultimately end up, and how can you ensure they arrive on time and in the correct amount?
|No matter the size of your business, you won't go far without an effective way to receive orders.|
Already, this very first step creates several opportunities for mixups and slowdowns with a paper-based or manual system. After adding in many more orders, items and countless other things to juggle, the problem only grows more severe.
With a cloud WMS, these considerations can be preprogrammed and compiled in a way that makes the goods-in process more streamlined. Assuming all the requisite data has been input already, the first scan of an incoming shipment will reveal every detail about it, including what it is, where it's going and how it needs to get there. There's no need for workers to memorize a labyrinth of locations or a compendium of codes and rules. And as noted by Promotion Fulfillment Center, a system that can track warehouse activity such as a WMS presents ample opportunity to learn what's working and where to improve through real-time insight into warehouse operations.
For more details on improving your warehouse processes, take a look at our eBook: Inside the Smart Warehouse: How to Optimize Warehouse Processes.