We live in a technological age. Whether it’s using our phones to take photos with or our computers to watch TV, we are surrounded by gadgets and gizmos. It is clear that every aspect of our life has been impacted by technology. The fulfillment industry is no different.
When we order something, we don’t think too much about where it is and how it is getting to us but there is a story behind it. The warehouse has become significantly more organized, efficient and streamlined courtesy of technology.
Take the advent of auto bagging machines which automate the physical side of fulfillment such as labeling and sealing the packages. This greatly reduces the conventional bottlenecks of the printing and labeling process. Some of the machines can package as many as 200 items per minute. Furthermore, it’s a great piece of technology because it helps keep costs down and in turn saves the clients money, while also greatly increasing our productivity. It also uses a bag that is made from 70 percent recycled materials which keeps the global impact down.
Technology greatly improved efficiency in the fulfillment industry. For example, the use of ASN’s (advanced shipper’s notification) informs the receiving staff what to expect in the upcoming days. Typically sent in XML or EDI format, it contains information about when an order will be shipped; which items are being shipped; how many of each item is being shipped; and physical characteristics about the shipment such as the shipment’s weight and carrier information. This greatly improves the anticipation of the required packaging requirements as well as the physical bin and pallet space that will be needed.
You can now also take advantage of the analytical tools of the control panel. This allows the fulfillment process to have the warehouse physically organized based upon packaging requirements, and order volume. This places the most popular items towards the middle and radiates outward from our packing stations. Most importantly, this reduces the steps each employee needs to fulfill the orders. The fulfillment analytics is just part of our supply chain analytics. Our systems provide coverage of inventory movement as well inventory forecasting, so the customer can plan more effectively. It also allows the client to balance inventory levels as well as see when their stock is low. This provides a more optimal service and streamlines the process for online sellers.
Another piece of technology that has come a long way is the shopping cart integration. There are hundreds of shopping carts in today’s world of fulfillment. The shopping cart actually communicates with the systems and states what the client has just ordered, their address and any other relevant information. Each client chooses which cart to offer to their online customers. One’s understanding of the technical requirements to decipher this information is critical to a smooth operation. The clients have the ability to access their account information from anywhere at anytime. Many carts have already been integrated with our systems, making start up seamless and easy.
The technology harnesses common sense to make the whole process smoother. These critical bits of information allow the client to achieve what they want which is the end-user receiving their order swiftly and correctly.
Seth Boylan is the owner/operator of Xpert Fulfillment. He has 10 years of experience in the fulfillment and logistics industry with a background in marketing and sales. He has insight into all phases and aspects of the fulfillment industry.