How to Optimize Your eCommerce Distribution Center
If you want your eCommerce business to run as smoothly as possible, then your distribution center needs to work like a well-oiled machine. To this end, let’s take a look at how to optimize your eCommerce distribution center!
Work on optimal warehouse layout
The first step to optimizing your eCommerce distribution center is having a warehouse with an optimal layout! The organization of your warehouse has a lot of impact on how quickly your employees can work. If things are not properly organized, they may need to waste a lot of time transporting goods to and from trucks. That is why trucks should be capable of getting relatively close to the bulk of your goods. At the same time, make sure that the loading and unloading area is not located in a highly congested part of your warehouse. That’s just looking for trouble since it would only be a matter of time before someone gets hurt. These considerations should make it obvious why the warehouse layout is one of the main factors to consider when acquiring a new warehouse.
Invest in employee training
As logistics experts like to point out, your employees are the lifeline of your business. Even when trying to optimize your eCommerce distribution center, this remains true. In reality, it is even more critical for your employees to have the required training. An untrained workforce performs tasks slower, and the chance of human error skyrockets. That may be fine in some other positions. Still, when you rely on them to pack, unpack and transport goods, errors typically result in damaged goods and hurt employees, which means that you suffer financial losses and a sudden decrease in the workforce. It is much better to invest your money into training instead and get consistent, reliable results. The increased competency will also do wonders for your optimization since everything will be done faster and more efficiently.
Emphasize packing efficiently
There are few tasks as troublesome for eCommerce distribution centers as packaging. Even the best warehouse management systems cannot perfect the process. Amazon, for example, relies on software that dictates which box and how much cushioning an item requires based on its pre-entered dimensions. And even such a sophisticated system produces errors when packing larger items when fully assembled, resulting in massively oversized boxes filled with insufficient cushioning. So, what you should emphasize to your employees instead is trying to pack efficiently. The training we’ve already recommended should help a lot on this front. Your employees can understand how much cushioning to use and the optimal box size for an item. Of course, in the end, a lot of experience will be required to get to the most optimal packing, but that’s the price of doing business.
Make sure everything is properly labeled and organized
Finding your way through a warehouse can be a frustrating experience. With familiarity, things get easier. However, as your business grows and you hire new employees, even with training, you can’t expect them to know everything. Similarly, your product catalog might change, necessitating changes in the warehouse organization. Even experienced employees can falter and take longer to find the right items.
For this reason, one of the best ways to optimize your eCommerce distribution center is to rely on the good old labels. Have your product placement areas marked out. And keep a chart of your warehouse with all the labels on it, too. That will let your employees easily navigate the facility and find everything they need during their workday, which should speed up the running of your warehouse significantly!
The right way to store your products
This one will take a bit more effort from your managers. But, there is an optimal way to store your goods. Namely, the popular and frequently bought items must be placed in the most easily accessible areas. On the other hand, the less popular products can be placed further in the back. This way, your employees will need to waste a lot less time fetching and packaging the items they are likely to handle most often. And you can take one step further to the most optimal working of your warehouse you can achieve!
Make use of the right software
If you take the time to learn about the world of logistics, then our final advice on optimizing your eCommerce distribution center might seem obvious. Namely, the use of automation and management software! The right software makes everything so much easier. It speeds up the data gathering and analysis processes and provides optimal solutions to your problems. It can perfectly organize your delivery and shipping schedules and even offer insight into the optimal organization of your warehouse’s goods. In other words, it is always wise to invest in software!
Even knowing how to optimize your eCommerce distribution center, you will not be able to perfect things overnight. Almost every piece of advice we’ve offered here takes time to implement, especially regarding employee training! It will take time before your business is genuinely optimized, but it will be worth the effort.
Connor Welkin has worked as a warehouse and storage facility manager and has extensive logistics experience. He also closely works with the moving experts from vanexpressnj.com to meet all their storage needs.