Warehousing is a crucial part of ecommerce logistics. When warehouse operations are efficient, ecommerce brands can easily keep costs low and customers happy.
On the contrary, warehouse problems can affect the speed, efficiency, and productivity of the entire ecommerce fulfilment process. In such a scenario, ecommerce brands aren't able to ship orders on time, workers are not as productive as possible, and your brand loses credibility.
In most cases, these errors are only identified when the damage is already done. But with prior knowledge about common challenges, you can detect and prevent them before it's too late.
In this blog, you’ll learn the most common warehouse management challenges that affect your ecommerce business and how to solve them.
If you don’t track your inventory properly, it can give rise to several issues at a warehouse. Let’s take a few instances:
Manual processes of tracking and updating inventory can be the biggest reason that can lead to such problems.
Solution: You can automate your warehouse operations instead of carrying them out manually. With Eshopbox’s powerful technology, you can track your inventory in real-time. A typical system first collects your inventory data (SKU, location, quantity, and more) through a handheld device such as a barcode scanner. Then, this information is sent to the actionable dashboard, which tracks your inventory across your warehouse(s).
A poorly configured warehouse can cause various problems. A study states that the average warehouse capacity utilisation is only 68%. It means that warehouse spaces are not being utilised properly. Such inefficiencies can result in wastage of floor space and vertical space. Moreover, it can impact the movement of warehouse staff and equipment. This can lead to unnecessary time wastage in searching for best-selling items. Thus, warehouse layout directly impacts profitability as the more time a picker spends in finding a product, the fewer orders they can fulfil.
Solution: To start optimising your warehouse space, you can look into the technology that can help you organise your warehouse’s layout with a 3D model of the most optimal arrangement. You can also organise your inventory using ABC analysis that involves grouping items based on historical purchase data and patterns.
Group A - Most frequently purchased products
Group B - Less frequently purchased products
Group C - Rarely purchased items (deadstock and excess inventory)
This allows the warehouse staff to run daily functions smoothly and retrieve items faster and more accurately.
65% of the total warehouse budget is allocated towards labour costs. Workers are an integral part of the warehouse, and managing them effectively can improve overall productivity. However, managing a large labour force can become challenging and costly. Especially when pickers don't know what exactly is to be done and in what manner.
Solution: You can start by giving the workforce step-by-step instructions and creating a standard operating procedure (SOP) for every task. By following strict instructions to perform different tasks, you can improve efficiency, quality and ensure uniformity in operational performance. It can help you reduce leakages due to miscommunication and non-compliance. Moreover, it will eliminate any wastage of time and redundancy—helping you to keep costs low.
Changing customer demands and order volume is something the warehouses can’t control. Whether due to seasonality or flash sale, order volume fluctuates drastically throughout the year. Sudden influxes of orders that take you by surprise can do a lot of damage, as your warehouse might not be prepared to manage the fluctuation efficiently. This could be because you don’t have enough inventory or because you don’t have enough space to store them on such short notice.
Solution: With demand forecasting, you can analyse your historical data and predict demand. You can tackle the demand fluctuations by maintaining optimum inventory levels and ensuring timely replenishment. Moreover, you can partner up with a 3PL provider like Eshopbox to leverage its scalable storage and manage variability in sales effectively. Eshopbox re-allocates fulfilment resources according to the current order volume so that manage the demand fluctuations.
Picking is one of the most important processes in a warehouse that also causes some of the biggest problems. As soon as an order is placed, a picker is assigned to retrieve the items. If picking isn’t done efficiently, a lot of time would be wasted in shipping a single order. Moreover, human errors can result in picking mistakes that can ruin the order accuracy.
Solution: You can optimise picking to minimise movement and time consumption. You can use warehouse slotting, the process of storing the inventory that makes the most sense for the picker (such as by type, size, weight, location). Moreover, you can reduce common human errors, such as choosing the wrong colour or size of a product, by ensuring— you are using the right barcodes, and your picking lists are descriptive enough. It will help you improve picking accuracy and functionality by eliminating any scope of mistakes.
Selling your products across multiple online sales channels, like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, and your brand website is a great way to increase your sell-through rate. However, maintaining spreadsheets to track these orders according to the sales channel, warehouse location, SKU, quantity, and more can result in confusion and errors. A mistake in order management can collapse the entire workflow. This can lead to challenges where pickers are sent to retrieve incorrect orders, and customers receive something they didn’t order.
Solution: You need technology that can help you consolidate multi-channel orders to save time and eliminate errors. Eshopbox’s technology platform automatically consolidates orders from multiple sales channels into a unified view. As a result, you can have a real-time view of the entire order processing operations, such status of all your orders. This means you can streamline order management and leave no scope for error.
Warehouses generate a lot of data while executing different processes. This data holds valuable insight for improving warehouse productivity and the entire fulfilment process. However, the data is generally too large to manage and analyse manually. Without it, it’s easy to drive your warehouse operations in the wrong direction.
Solution: You need powerful technology to capture your warehouse data and analyse it. With Eshopbox, you get access to the actionable dashboard, analytics, periodic reports and key metrics to drive your ecommerce brand in the right direction with the help of valuable insights. Thus, enabling you to transform data into actionable intelligence.
Even after optimising the majority of warehousing tasks, errors can still creep in. Moreover, with numerous orders fulfilled every day, quality control can sometimes be skipped. Due to the pressure of fulfiling orders quickly, your workforce can sometimes overlook key details during picking, packing, or shipping orders. Such light treading can ruin the customer experience when they receive damaged or incurred orders.
Solution: You can start with implementing quality control during specific processes to cross-check the efficiency and accuracy of your warehouse operations. Eshopbox performs multiple quality checks in the fulfilment centre for ensuring that only correct and quality products are delivered to your customers. You can also customise the inspection criteria as per needs and preference, such as expiry dates, colour, and more.
Running an ecommerce business involves various processes and operations—and warehousing is an essential part of it. Using a warehouse management system can help you maintain a smooth running warehouse without any hiccups. A solution that can help you manage multiple warehouses, organise your inventory and orders, provide real-time data, and give you accurate reports.