Santa puts everything into one sleigh and so should you. Efficient order consolidation is critical for profitable e-commerce.
Today’s guest post was written by Fab Brasca.
Ahh, it’s that wonderful, crazy time of year again. Everyone is busy trying to purchase—and ship—the perfect holiday gift for family and friends. And, increasingly, they’re doing that through e-commerce. Forrester predicts $334 billion in U.S. online retail sales this year. That’s up about 27 percent from two years ago.
And, as if that volume doesn’t put enough stress on the supply chain by itself, we’re also challenged by employee shortages at the same time consumer expectations are rising about fast delivery service. Those expectations often cause a shipper to break up a customer’s order so they can ship part of it fast and ship the rest later when it’s ready to box up. But the more packages that are shipped, the higher a company’s operating costs are going to be. Efficient order consolidation is therefore critical for e-commerce profitability.
This is a situation that we can’t solve just by throwing more elves at it. We have to optimize warehouse, workforce and transportation systems for ideal order consolidation and box usage to cut down on shipping partial orders. Fortunately, just in time for the holidays, supply chain software tools help us do that. The key is to take a holistic approach to solving the problem.
First focus on the ecommerce warehouse
“Meeting customer expectations for fast delivery, while avoiding shipping costly partial orders, requires real-time visibility into all warehouse activities, including inventory, employee and equipment performance.”
It’s natural for retailers to devote a lot of their attention to their e-commerce websites. That’s where they serve up offerings to meet the customer’s every desire. But, if you want that customer to return—again and again—you have to meet their expectations for delivery also, and in a way that’s still profitable for your business. That begins in the warehouse.
Modern warehouses are no longer uniform, one-product-satisfies-all-customers environments. They’re dynamic, with shifting workflows that bring together an array of products and combinations of products that can meet the demands of the smallest customer segment.
Meeting customer expectations for fast delivery, while avoiding shipping costly partial orders, requires real-time visibility into all warehouse activities, including inventory, employee and equipment performance. Dashboards also enable continuous monitoring and control of costs, productivity and service. Visibility helps you proactively track what’s going on in your warehouse so it all comes together at the right time and place for shipping.
Help your ecommerce workforce become more efficient
By giving your supervisors and managers complete labor visibility into warehouse labor you can transform them into effective coaches, improve performance accountability, and cut labor costs while still getting the job done.
Nothing is more important for cost-effective package delivery than how you manage your workforce. After all, warehouse labor is a finite and, in some cases, shrinking resource. By giving your supervisors and managers complete labor visibility into warehouse labor you can transform them into effective coaches, improve performance accountability, and cut labor costs while still getting the job done.
Advanced labor management solutions provide the tools you need for planning, scheduling and task analysis. But the long-term efficiency, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness of your workforce will come from developing a performance-focused culture. Real-time and mobile trend analysis, report cards and coaching tools are essential for building that type of culture.
Getting it to your customer, wherever they are
Globalization can make this the tough part for e-commerce retailers. Your customers are geographically scattered. Your products reside in a network of warehouses and distribution centers. And omni-channel selling means catering to diverse delivery and pick-up preferences. Without efficient order consolidation, transportation costs can easily spin out of control. Fortunately, advanced transportation management solutions can maximize efficiencies, customer satisfaction and profit margins.
Effective transportation management should support the entire transportation lifecycle, from order management through customer service and financial settlement. They help you plan transportation in a way that’s really feasible so you can deliver those special gifts—in one package—this holiday season.
Happy Holidays from JDA
Making changes to warehouse operations, workforce and transportation management can make for a much happier shopping experience. And more profitability for shippers and less stress for customers are great resolutions for the new year. Here’s to a joyous holiday season, everyone.
About the Author
Fab Brasca is the vice president of global solutions strategy, intelligent fulfillment at JDA Software. He is is responsible for developing innovative strategies across all industry verticals, strengthening executive-level relationships with JDA’s key customers and prospects and advising companies on best practices to become more profitable.
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