Looking to expand your 3PL operations to handle higher online order volumes? A majority of ecommerce warehouses we’ve surveyed are looking to do the same thing. In fact, order volumes through our warehouse management system (WMS) software have surged by 59% year-over-year. With great volume comes great responsibility. Warehouses without efficient processes in place risk overwhelming staff with orders to process beyond their capacity – causing mis-picks that cost up to thousands of dollars per month, limit revenue growth, and hamper staff productivity.
During the past 14 years working with thousands of third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses, 3PL Central has discovered three ecommerce fulfillment automation best-practice workflows that you can implement with WMS software to build scalable processes that expedite ecommerce fulfillment. When applied, these workflows can fuel your ecommerce growth.
1. Efficient Receipt Against Advanced Shipping Notice Process
Many 3PLs receive against advanced shipping notices (ASN) to ensure receipt of the correct inventory and the quality of the products received. By ensuring you’ve received the correct product initially, you reduce errors further in the picking and packing process and can avoid shipping the wrong product. A receipt against ASN process helps 3PLs improve the quality control and boost operational efficiency in the warehouse receiving process by allowing you to check inventory received to the ASN and also to check the quantities received, as well as ensure all product is in good condition before putaway to storage or picking locations. By applying this quality control process, you can build a reputation for efficient receipts and quality inventory management. This makes it difficult for competitors to replicate. Level up your warehouse service levels by receiving against ASNs.
2. Leverage Mobile Barcode Scanning
Besides ensuring received inventory accuracy, two major challenges preventing warehouses from effectively scaling their ecommerce operations are order accuracy and pick speed. A simple mobile scanning solution like SmartScan can help accelerate pick jobs and boost warehouse productivity. Faster barcode scanning-enabled picking translates into fewer mis-picks and happier customers. Happier customers sustain profitable businesses. Consequently, unless your picking process is a well-oiled machine, it can be difficult to scale operations.
While mobile scanning processes orders faster, you can also use it to capture overages, shortages, and damages that inevitably happen as consumer demand fluctuates and staff handles inventory. The key to preventing potential inventory shortages or overages is to detect issues early with complete visibility of operations. Mobile scanning enables you to track inventory by scanning items as they move throughout your warehouse from receiving to picking to packing.
3. Automate Order Creation
To those warehouses aspiring to become ecommerce powerhouses, we recommend using integrations with third-party shopping carts and marketplaces to automate the order creation process. Think about inefficient order processes and hundreds of hours per month spent by warehouse staff on processing orders via email, phone calls, or other manual and time-consuming methods. The sheer opportunity cost of staff investing time responding to customers rather than picking and packing orders is a major roadblock to scaling order volumes.
Imagine if you could automate order fulfillment by connecting to a shopping cart platform like Shopify. In this ideal scenario, an online customer can view tracking numbers through self-service methods. How much more productive would your staff be if they didn’t have to field phone calls or emails related to order-processing? Liberate your staff’s time and automate order management by choosing a WMS with the right ecommerce integrations that your customers need.
How Will These Workflows Impact Your Business?
If you apply these best practice warehouse automation workflows to your ecommerce fulfillment, you can fuel tremendous growth and higher levels of customer satisfaction. Should 3PLs not apply these scalable processes, they may risk falling behind warehouses that do. A key component of enabling growth is having a reliable WMS with ecommerce integrations and warehouse automation capabilities. To check out our WMS, 3PL Warehouse Manager, click here.
Written by Nathan Schlaffer
Nathan is an experienced SaaS product marketing manager who is passionate about creating compelling product messaging. Working closely with product, marketing, and sales teams, he is responsible for crafting effective product strategies and content to share the benefits and features of 3PL Central's solutions for third-party logistics warehouses. Previously, he has shared technology solutions with state DOTs such as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and wireless solutions for warehouse AGV manufacturers.