Warehouse Process in E-commerce

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What is a Warehouse Process?

Warehouse process helps a business streamline warehouse operations, cut costs and errors, and achieve a bigger yet impeccable order rate. Warehouse optimization promotes effective inventory control, production productivity, and performance.

Warehouse Process

Primary Warehouse Processes

Explained below are the primary warehouse processes:

Receiving

The process of a warehouse begins with receiving. To execute the receiving process flawlessly, the management of the warehouse should be able to demonstrate that it received the right items, in the correct number, in the right condition, and at the correct time. Failure to do so will have consequences for all subsequent operations.

Receiving also requires giving the storeroom possession of the commodities. As a result, it is the warehouse’s responsibility to keep the goods in the right shape until they are transported. Receiving cargo correctly allows you to eliminate faulty items and avoid liabilities.

Put-Away

The second warehouse procedure is put-away, which involves transporting goods from the collection point to the warehouse storage site. 

There are various advantages to storing goods correctly:

  • Protect the security of goods and employees
  • Increase warehouse space usage
  • Easily track and trace items
  • Store items in an effective and appropriate manner
  • Reduce the transit time

Put-away takes place when a person accepts the duty of put-away from either the Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Furthermore, once that authorized person starts to scan the required barcode of the goods to be stored, he prepares a manual entry of the goods and ensures to identify the goods without the barcode. 

The program, on the other hand, will now direct the responsible person for the put-away to deliver packages to the correct warehouse.

Picking

Picking is another warehousing process, including gathering products in a warehouse to satisfy customer demands. 

Picking is split into two categories:

  • Primary Picking: This category includes the beginning of product selection where the initial picking is immediately sent either to a warehouse or a packing workbench to be finalized and dispatched.

  • Secondary Picking:  This includes selection criteria where the primary selections are followed by a second picking process, which is typically used when selected or picked products should be delivered in batches of orders in an individual order using a sorting method or software.

Since it is the most expensive activity in the warehouse, optimizing operating expenses will allow a business to considerably reduce costs while increasing warehouse efficiency. Streamlining this procedure should also prioritize accuracy, as errors will directly influence client satisfaction.

Packing

Packing is a warehouse process of assembling selected products in a sales order and preparing them for shipping to the customer. An important aspect of packing is ensuring damage is minimized when items leave the warehouse. Furthermore, packing must be light enough not to increase the weight of items while remaining low enough to control package expenses. 

Within distribution centers, commodities are packed in a variety of ways. Instead of diving into the specifics of packing operations, it is sufficient to establish five guidelines that, if followed, will help a team to pack successfully:

  • Goods must be identifiable according to the place where they are picked and based on the codes.
  • The procedure must include accuracy and quality assurance checks.
  • To ensure the fulfillment of an order, the goods picked from multiple zones within the warehouse must be conveniently mixed and managed through a system.
  • Consider the essential details of packed goods, such as the size, temperature, quantity, value, toxicity, fragility, hygiene, and statutory requirements.
  • For future tracking, consignments need to be always traceable on the system to papers or invoice numbers.

Dispatching

The capacity of a business to have items ready for dispatch, so carriers can load their trucks in time, is the key to successful dispatch in a warehouse process. The early arrival of goods, for example, will clog staging areas, whereas late dispatches will delay loading and potentially cause late delivery. 

Businesses set up systems to release orders to pick and pack in phases according to specific routes or carrier types.

As a result, the manager must balance and forecast packing and dispatching based on carrier pick-up times. 

Shipping

Shipping is essential in the warehousing process as it marks a product’s journey, beginning from the warehouse to the customer. Shipping is successful only when the correct order is sorted and loaded, dispatched to the correct customer, travels via the correct mode of transport, and is delivered safely and on schedule. 

Software technology to streamline most operations is crucial for optimizing the shipping process. A smartphone shipping app allows you to have the necessary information at your fingertips in real-time to verify shipments on the fly. Loading systems can also clearly guide you on loading cargo securely and efficiently.

Kitting/Dekitting

Kitting is the process of combining various products into a single “kit” for delivery to a consumer. Kitting allows businesses and logistics providers to improve shipment procedures, reduce shipping costs, and expedite order fulfillment. This facilitates shipping tracking and enhances customer satisfaction. 

Kitting can be done at a warehouse alongside typical shipping operations and requires no additional equipment or personnel. However, it will necessitate a shift in how you select products, use your staging area, and interact with processes. Warehouse kitting brings more flexibility and resilience to a supply chain business, giving them more chances to remedy a production error, update packaging, or rebrand products.

The dekitting procedure is the inverse of the kitting process. The kit’s components are disassembled and arranged separately in their designated locations. Individual items are then shipped for specific orders both domestically and internationally. When there are multiple tiny shipments, this method is usually in play. However, they are insufficient for delivery to a specific location.

Casing

Casing happens when products are taken up from their separate storage while still being packed in their original cases. These cases are typically used to store fragile items. A part of the warehouse is dedicated to picking up these cases and their contents.

The casing process was traditionally regarded as manual labor; however, it is now updated. For example, in the present day, automated conveyor belts help transfer oversized cases.

Inventory Tracking

Inventory tracking is the process of keeping track of all the products available in the warehouse’s inventory. The stock of products in a warehouse makes up most of an inventory. The inflow and outflow of items based on past and new orders must be considered when tracking.

As a result, it’s similar to compiling data on all of the goods in a warehouse. Simultaneously, managers must assess the rate at which things depart inventory owing to sales. Time and speed of inventory inflow or outflow are the two most significant components of inventory.

Various inventory management software have been developed for tracking inventory.
These programs can be used with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems on their own. However, inventory management remains a significant duty in a warehouse.

Value-Adding

The value-added component entails the fabrication of a product ready for sale. They are manufactured, kitted, assembled, rebranded, modified, burnt in, or exposed to another value-adding activity. 

The process must be designed effectively when multiple diverse components combine to create a new product. It is vital to carefully examine the complexity of dealing with value-adding processes.

However, with the modern era’s remarkable progress and sophisticated technical approach, systems have risen to assist in completing value-adding operations.

Returns

Product returns are among the most complicated aspects of any warehouse. Thus there must be a straightforward method to precisely and reliably capture the complete transaction. Every business wishes its product returns to vanish because of the increased volume of returns since the e-commerce revolution. 

However, there are several things a business can do while processing returns, namely:

  • When a consumer returns items, he must clarify the reason for the return of an item and have a return manager authorization.
  • The team handling the return should be able to track the order via its invoice.
  • The company should establish a returns process that outlines what to do with returned goods in advance.

Reporting and Analytics

The reporting or recording of all events in a warehouse is a critical aspect of the warehousing operation. Everything should be tracked, starting with the order’s arrival or reception and ending with the shipment and return procedure. All of the warehouse’s inflows and outflows, as well as the expenditures incurred, should be recorded in a database. It helps estimate the number of resources and labor required by the company. 

All payments and transactions must be documented and counted. Each department’s number of employees and wages must also be recorded and monitored. Supervisors can also examine personnel for safety training, permits, and certificates to operate specific equipment. 

Analytics is the next step in a warehouse’s reporting and analytics process, which helps scrutinize the warehouse’s operation. Assessing whether the staff is productive and fulfilling their responsibilities is necessary. Quality and sanitary requirements must be met. Tracking inventories and ensuring optimal space use are also critical when storing items.

Damage Control

The warehouse’s contents must be protected from damage. When a warehouse company takes on the obligation of storing items, this is somehow a part of the contract. To fulfill this job, warehouse personnel should store all commodities according to size and weight.

For fragile commodities, special protective racks should be provided. A warehouse manager must complete the staff training before hiring to handle all types of accidents. A clean and sanitary environment is also required to avoid harming food products or perishable commodities.

Warehouse services should be equipped for weather conditions in their area while planning infrastructure. Install a proper lighting system in good working order to avoid mistakes or mishaps. Consider using stretch wraps and safety traps to protect goods from damage.

Storage

Only by keeping track of the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can a warehouse business improve its storage operation. The correct KPIs help a company assess how efficiently each component of their storage process uses the advanced warehouse system that determines their storage utilization.

Warehouse Process

How to Optimize the Warehouse Process

The success of every enterprise that organizes, stores, and ships orders relies heavily on warehouse operations efficiency. 

Here are a few tips for optimizing the warehouse process:

  • Manual processes slow down warehouse movement and can lead to errors. Reduce the number of times workers touch products and orders by automating the picking, packing, and shipping processes.
  • Prevent misplacement of items by keeping them where workers naturally look for them.
  • Do not implement the warehouse management system (WMS) vendor’s new models without dissecting its complexities, as it may hinder processes, confuse employees, and create extra labor.
  • Make sure you don’t lose sight of your business objectives by getting pressured by your customers.

Warehouse Management Process Flow

A warehouse management system process flow is a visual graph or figure that depicts your warehouse’s significant tasks. It’s a part of the warehouse organization process. A process flow diagram shows how commodities are received, processed, and dispatched and any intermediate processes.

There are several ways to design a process flow, such as using Microsoft Word or excel in managing the warehouse management system (WMS) data. Spending time on your process flow is recommended because it can save you thousands of dollars and dozens of hours each year.  

Warehouse Outbound Process Flow

Monitoring a warehouse’s outbound operation flow is essential for a company’s success and a vital part of satisfying both distributors and customers.

The following steps are included in the outbound process flow:

  • Establish a packing zone: The production team of a warehouse should operate smoothly, for which work benches should feature the stock keeping unit numbers, machines for printing labels, scanners, and packing supplies along with a computer for order fulfillment and other e-commerce packaging materials to avoid delays. 
  • Create a staging location for shipments: Goods which have been packed are stacked in the production until they are ready for pickup and delivery. Suppliers can then begin loading products as soon as they arrive, since the warehouse is well-organized.
  • Keep track of shipping and delivery updates: A warehouse management system provides a network through which one can see products which have previously been sent and which are still under process. Many warehouse management systems give notifications when clients get their orders. This reduces the number of unwanted follow-up questions on the package.
  • Maintain your records: The process of outbound flow should include records of the products already departed the warehouse along with their destinations. Every finished task, either carried out manually or with software, must also be documented.
Warehouse Process

Warehouse Inbound Process Flow

A robust process of warehouse inbound flow is essential to the efficiency of a company. 

Here are the stages of the inbound process flow:

  • Schedule every delivery: Don’t ignore the delivery schedules, as it will result in congested delivery and holding of cargos for a prolonged period of time. Equip the delivery drivers with an electronic ordering system or pre-mark the schedule of the deliveries. 
  • Set a designated location for unloading: When creating a warehouse’s incoming process flow, it’s easy to neglect the dumping zone. This area is mainly for dismantling cases and transporting things to the aisles.
  • Include inventory control: Simply placing products on the shelves is not enough to manage the inventory; it also requires an accurate and quick inventory management strategy. When arranging and managing stock, evaluate the storage needs of the products or your processing requirements.
  • Maintain your reports: A warehousing inventory control system calculates the orders of the clients using their order numbers. Thus it is suggested to conduct a stock audit on a regular basis to confirm that all products are registered in the warehouse system.

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FAQs

There are two types of warehouses: 

  • Corporate Warehouses
  • Distribution Centers

The three main processes of a warehouse are:

  • Warehouse management
  • Warehouse management systems
  • Warehousing services and operations

Raw materials, packing materials, spare parts, components, and completed commodities related to agriculture, manufacturing, and industry are types of products kept in a warehouse.

Storage facilities and logistics organizations use Warehousing & Logistics ERP (Enterprise resource planning) software to handle all areas of their warehouses, including storage space, orders, picking, inwards and outwards procedures, movement, and more.

Safety rules are the most important thing in warehouse management. Warehouses that prioritize safety require employees to wear appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), and pay attention to warning signs and signals.

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