We live in the era of omnichannel – our customers require not only a broad offer but also a comprehensive customer experience in all sales channels. To meet their requirements you need to resign from traditional fulfillment system and change your approach to warehouse management.
The simple truth is that your customers are not interested how big is your warehouse, how complicated is your system architecture or how many sales channels you have. They just want to get what they want, whenever and wherever they want. They expect fast and cheap delivery, free returns and order accuracy.
Building this whole structure you often forget about the roots – efficient warehouse management. For many years, consumers products have been distributed to stores in bulk. Encompassing receiving, putaway/storage, picking, transport through the distribution center, sortation, value-added services, packing, and shipping – sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? But it’s the reality of traditional fulfillment systems functioning in many eCommerce.
Now, we all can feel a wind of changes. From the moment the online order is placed to when it’ picked, packed and shipped, every step must be handled efficiently and cost-effectively. Simply delivering the goods is no longer an adequate mission for the fulfillment center—customer satisfaction has to be a critical priority.
Imagine that your customer is ordering a product from your online store and you don’t have this product in your warehouse. If you manage your stocks in a traditional way, there’s a huge possibility that you won’t be able to send it immediately – you need to wait for a delivery from your supplier. Maybe you even have this product in one of your stationary shops but you need to send it to your central warehouse first. One way or another your client has to wait longer for a product they need. It’s a great inconvenience – we’re living in the world when delivery longer than 48 hours is considered as too long.
I bet you thought that maybe a bigger warehouse would solve this problem. The truth is you don’t need a big warehouse to process a lot of orders. In most cases, you don’t need any warehouse at all. At a certain scale of operation, it’s even impossible to have all products in your warehouse. All you need to do is to implement an efficient Order Management System.
Why should you do this?
You probably have a couple of brick-and-mortar shops in different locations. What’s more, you’re obviously already paying for them. Why not use them in a different way? Have you ever thought about stationary points as a system of mini-warehouses? No additional costs, fast delivery and thousands of satisfied customers.
It’s impossible you may say. But it’s even easier than you thought. All you need to do is to implement a system that helps you to manage the stock of your online and brick-and-mortar shops.
Let’s get back to our example – our customer has ordered a product that it’s not stored in your central warehouse. The system looks for a shop with this product in storage, what’s more, chooses the nearest shop for your customer location. Then, the product is sent directly to the customer. You save time, money and can manage your warehouse in a better way.
Additionally, it’s your main advantage that helps you compete with big players on the market. For example – Amazon – the company doesn’t have small warehouses in the center of big cities. So you can easily beat them in this field – this kind of system gives you a real weapon to fight them.
Sounds a bit like a story about the Holy Grail of warehouse management efficiency, but it’s the reality of innovative eCommerce businesses.
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