Warehousing for E-commerce Success

Warehousing for E-commerce Success

The long-term growth of e-commerce businesses hinges not only on the quality of your products and the appeal of your website but also on the efficiency of warehousing and logistics operations. Behind every successful online store lies a robust system for order fulfilment, packaging, and returns management.

As leaders in warehousing solutions, VLT Logistics are well versed in the critical role that warehousing plays in the success of e-commerce operations, and the strategies that you implement are essential to long-term security.

1. Order fulfilment

Order fulfilment encompasses the entire process from the moment a customer places an order to the moment it reaches their doorstep. Timely and accurate order fulfilment is essential for customer satisfaction and retention.

Inventory management

Efficient inventory management can make or break e-commerce success.

A well organised warehouse with clear labelling and tracking systems ensures that products are readily available for picking, packing, and shipping. Unorganised inventory management can easily lead to missing stock, customer disappointment and confusion amongst employees.

Implementing the following strategies and technologies can elevate warehousing processes:

Real-time data warehousing

As the name suggests, real-time data warehousing allows warehouse data to be processed in real-time. Unlike the traditional stock rooms that rely on employee time and availability, real-time data warehousing provides the equivalent of a workforce that analyses and reports on data at all times of the day.

Inventory data can be captured on demand, and makes determining growth strategies far simpler.

RF stock management

RFID technology uses radio waves to transmit data wirelessly, allowing for real-time tracking of inventory items. For e-commerce businesses, where accurate stock inventory is pivotal to the functioning of the business, RF stock management systems offer seamlessness, and free up employee time.

Demand forecasting

Demand forecasting refers to the process of utilising historical data to strategically estimate future buying habits.

Implementing forecast demand strategies gives businesses grants predictability within the order and storage of stock. Companies will be able to align their inventory with anticipated sales, creating efficient use of space, and saving costs.

There are 6 main demand forecasting strategies:

  • Macro-level demand forecasting
  • Micro-level demand forecasting
  • Long-term demand forecasting
  • Short-term demand forecasting
  • Passive demand forecasting
  • Active demand forecasting

Multi-location warehousing

Multi warehouse management is defined as the shipping and fulfilment of products from multiple locations. From a logistics point of view, there are many benefits to incorporating multi-location warehousing including speed of product distribution, larger growth potential and being situated closer to numerous customer bases.

When e-commerce businesses have multiple warehouses, it is vital to ensure the application of an overarching inventory system such as real-time data warehousing, to improve communication and country-wide operations.

2. Packaging

Packaging provides an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on customers, and your warehouse is the last point of contact your business will have with it. Thoughtful and visually appealing packaging can improve brand image, but the condition in which products arrive at their final destination depends on the efficiency of the warehouse.

From ensuring packaging inventory is up to date, to ensuring workers are sufficiently trained in pick and pack, there are plenty of things to consider for e-commerce success.

Consistency of packing

Consistency is key when it comes to packing products for shipment. Each package should reflect the same level of care and attention to detail, regardless of the contents. Establishing standardised packing procedures ensures that every order is packed correctly, reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies.

From the placement of protective fillers to the sealing of boxes, every step should adhere to predetermined guidelines to maintain consistency and uphold quality standards.

Optimised processes

Optimising packaging processes ensures orders are dispatched promptly and accurately.

Picking and packing can be made more efficient through:

  • Implementation of automated packaging systems
  • Placing top selling items close to packing stations
  • Adapting to RF stock management to bring ease to locating stock
  • Standardisation of packing practises and habits

Inventory management

Effective inventory management extends beyond the products themselves to include essential packaging materials. Ensuring that packaging inventory is adequately stocked and replenished prevents delays in the packing process and ensures that orders can be fulfilled without interruption.

Sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging has become a priority for many e-commerce businesses. By opting for eco-friendly materials and packaging solutions, you not only reduce your environmental footprint but also align your brand with values that resonate with an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base.

From recycled cardboard boxes to biodegradable packing peanuts, there are plenty of sustainable alternatives available that allow you to minimise waste without compromising on product protection.

Third party warehousing

3. Returns management

While returns are an inevitable part of e-commerce, how they are handled can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Transparent returns policy

A transparent and customer-friendly returns policy sets clear expectations and reduces friction for customers returning products. Clearly communicate your policy on your website and include instructions and return labels with every order.

This not only makes returns simpler for customers, but smoothes over cracks in the processing of returns as they arrive at the warehouse. Staff will be able to scan a barcode to add the products back to the inventory, and then return them to their shelf without any wasted time.

Inspection and restocking

Upon receiving returned items, a thorough inspection should be conducted to determine their condition and eligibility for resale.

Develop protocols for restocking returned merchandise promptly, ensuring that it is reintegrated into inventory in a timely manner.

Data analysis

Analyse return data to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement. Are certain products experiencing higher return rates? Is there a common reason for returns? Use this information to refine product descriptions, enhance quality control processes, and address any underlying issues.

Seeking third party warehousing for your e-commerce business?

VLT Logistics have over 20 years experience in warehouse management and warehouse rental services. With over 500,000 square feet of cost effective, secure warehouse space, we are your partners in operational efficiency.

If you’re interested in outsourcing your logistics to a fully trained team who put your access and understanding first, get in touch today to discuss your requirements.