An ecommerce warehouse needs to keep up with the fast-paced demands of the online orders being generated. With so much fierce competition around reputation is everything online. You need a strong, organised and efficient system that can support your storefront. Below we explain the main benefits of integrating your online storefront with a WMS. This will ensure the vital elements of your operation are connected and optimised.
What is online storefront integration?
Online storefront integration links your ecommerce site and any other online sales channels you own to a powerful back-end WMS system. This creates a fluid flow of information and can be used to support and strengthen your online activity. It removes the need for manual inputting of data, removing duplication and time consuming tasks, while increasing operation efficiency and reducing the potential for errors.
Better productivity levels
The turnaround times offered by the likes of Amazon have raised the stakes for every ecommerce provider large and small. The customer expectation is now to be able to receive your product extremely quickly – with same day delivery now becoming the norm. Integration will help reduce the time it takes for customers to receive their orders which will naturally benefit your business in the short and long-term. A WMS is able to organise your warehouse so support pickers who will be able to work more efficiently, shortening despatch and delivery times.
Improved warehouse layout
With a well organised warehouse comes a more fluid operation across the board. Not just in terms of knowing where everything is located, but optimising the layout to support turnaround times. For example, positioning inventory in relation to its sales frequency and keeping this structure updated makes picking easier. Shopify provides this sort of integration, allowing the information to be sent to the warehouse before the sale has been finalised. You could even go one step further and organise inventory based on how much attention it receives online, rather than on just sales alone.
Equipped to handle individual sales
Traditional warehouse management systems are more accustomed to dealing with pallets for retailers rather than individual items. When you consider that single item orders can be as high as 80-90% on ecommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay, the software needs to be more finely tuned. Ecommerce WMS systems will be able to deal with higher volumes of individual sales so the process is not slowed down. Picking routes should be optimised so multiple individual orders can be picked from a certain zone in the warehouse, which makes the in-house process much more efficient.
Reliable stock availability
There are few things that a customer dislikes more than being given misinformation. If they arrive on your ecommerce store and are ready to buy a product, their frustration will quickly grow if they go down the sales funnel only to discover it was never actually in stock in the first place. Real-time integration with a WMS ensures sales opportunities are maximised and customers will always know what is and isn’t in stock. It also allows for faster processing of returns compared to manual processing, and enables you to replenish items automatically without having to constantly perform inventory checks to ensure you are not low on stock.
Shrinkage is an issue no matter the size of your business. While it is often put down to theft, loss or damage, the incorrect counting of inventory can often be just as likely a reason. A WMS can ensure it is far less likely to happen, with stock individually accounted for and checked out of your stock before it is sent out to a customer. Of course, stock can still go missing en-route to customers (which can be managed with tracking software), but it will at least minimise the loss of items within your inventory and reduce losses.
Set up click and collect
The concept of click and collect has grown rapidly in recent years, especially during the COVID era where customer safety and concerns are paramount. Convenience is also key here, allowing customers to place and order online and pick it up at the store or other set locations that suit their routines. The added bonus is that the click and collect option is free, which is always attractive to customers. Combined retail and ecommerce warehouses are ideal for this system as the order is received by the ecommerce WMS and then sent to the store along with normal replenishment stock. It’s a method of delivery that will only continue to expand, and it’s another part of the WMS’ armoury that makes is integration into your online storefront essential.
Faster set-up times
When it comes to introducing new systems into ecommerce warehouses there is usually only a small window for it to happen. There will always be some form of disruption when it comes to integrating a new system and you not only need to find the right time to do it, but also ensure it has minimal impact on the business. Compared to a traditional system, a WMS designed for use in the ecommerce sector will generally be much quicker to install and set-up. This makes it easier to plan the integration and work to deadlines, so you can enjoy the benefits it will offer the business with very little downside.
When operating an ecommerce store there will be a high volume of mailed shipments every day needed to meet a cut-off times. So as to ensure accurate delivery schedules are met. The big question then becomes, how are you going to track each order? Especially when they are in the hundreds or thousands to ensure they have been picked and packed and are ready for collection for the mail system. Asking each individual picker if the orders have been completed will take far too long. A system that can work with handheld devices to sort and distribute large order volumes is needed. This will save a lot of worry and stress when it comes to meeting that all-important daily collection deadline.