Optimizing Ecommerce Distribution and Omnichannel for a Better Customer Experience and Increased Sales
In today’s competitive ecommerce distribution and omnichannel landscape, providing a seamless customer experience is essential for driving increased sales. One key aspect of achieving this is optimizing your ecommerce distribution. With the right strategies in place, you can ensure that your products reach your customers efficiently, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and ultimately, higher sales.
Optimizing your ecommerce distribution involves a holistic approach that encompasses various elements such as warehousing, inventory management, order fulfillment, packing, and shipping. By fine-tuning each of these aspects, you can streamline your operations and deliver a smooth and efficient shopping experience to your customers.
From implementing advanced inventory management systems to leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence for demand forecasting, technology plays a crucial role in optimizing distribution processes. Having a software infrastructure which includes a warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse execution system (WES) software to manage and orchestrate inventory and labor. Additionally, utilizing data analytics allows you to gain valuable insights into customer behavior, enabling you to make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience.
Conveyco’s ecommerce direct to consumer omnichannel and ecommerce distribution solutions are designed to satisfy the high volume of small orders demanded by the consumers. Fulfilling small orders from a large number of SKU’s can be complicated and costly. When you factor in special handling requirements dictated by the type of products, the fulfillment process can be difficult to manage, especially during seasonal peak volume. We find that every client has something unique to their operation that needs special consideration in order to gain the maximum efficiencies.
Conveyco helps ecommerce distribution clients maximize the efficiency of their fulfillment operation by identifying and quantifying their unique aspects. The end result is a fulfillment system that meets all the needs of the client and consumers:
- Shortest order cycle time possible to allow consumers to place orders as late as possible for same day shipment
- Highest order accuracy to keep consumers coming back year after year
- Great customer experience with attractive packaging inside and outside the shipping container
- Highest labor productivity to minimize the total cost per order shipped
Common Challenges in Ecommerce Distribution and Omnichannel
Optimizing ecommerce distribution is not without its challenges. Common hurdles include inventory management, order fulfillment, packing, and shipping. These challenges can lead to delays, errors, and ultimately, a poor customer experience.
A major ecommerce distribution challenge is order fulfillment. Efficiently processing and shipping orders is crucial for customer satisfaction. By implementing a streamlined order fulfillment process, you can reduce processing times and improve accuracy. Utilize technology to automate order processing, such as barcode scanners and automated sorting systems. This not only speeds up the fulfillment process but also reduces the risk of human error.
Packing and shipping is another crucial aspect of ecommerce distribution. Properly packing products ensures they arrive in pristine condition, while efficient shipping ensures timely delivery. Consider investing in packaging solutions that protect your products during transit, such as bubble wrap or air-filled cushions. Additionally, work with reliable shipping partners to ensure fast and reliable delivery.
By addressing these common challenges head-on, you can optimize your ecommerce distribution and provide a better customer experience.
Identify Your Customer Needs, Including:
- Product characteristics
- SKU size
- SKU weights
- Order characteristics
- Volumes (average and peak)
- Typical order profiles
- Order exceptions
- Special requirements
- Gift cards
- Messages and cards
Once we quantify and map the client’s operation, we can help develop the “RightFIT” Solution for the client’s business. We are able to treat the order fulfillment process as an interdependent set of tasks (picking, packing, sorting, and shipping).
Determining and understanding how an order needs to be packed and shipped early in the process allows for many efficiencies. That is why planning and designing the order fulfillment system around the specific needs of the client’s operation is most important.
Planning starts with the picking process. We look at different picking strategies to see which can yield the most efficiency.
- Discrete order picking
- Cluster picking groups of discrete orders
- Batch picking for manual or automated discrete order consolidation
- Identifying possible combinations
Streamlining Your Omnichannel and Order Fulfillment Process
The order fulfillment process is a critical part of omnichannel and ecommerce distribution. Streamlining this process can help you fulfill orders quickly and accurately, resulting in improved customer satisfaction. Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Automation: Implementing automation in your order fulfillment process can significantly speed up operations. Use barcode scanners to quickly scan and process orders, reducing the risk of errors. Consider investing in automated sorting systems that can efficiently organize and route orders for shipping.
2. Warehouse Layout: Optimize your warehouse layout to minimize the time it takes to pick and pack orders. Place frequently ordered items closer to the packing area for easy access. Use signage or floor markings to clearly indicate the location of different products.
3. Pick and Pack Optimization: Implement a pick and pack strategy that maximizes efficiency. Consider using batch picking, where multiple orders are picked simultaneously, or wave picking, where orders are grouped into waves based on common criteria. These strategies can help reduce travel time and increase productivity.
4. Inventory Visibility: Maintain accurate inventory visibility to avoid stockouts or overstocking. Implement a warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse execution system (WES) software to manage and orchestrate inventory and labor. These systems provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, enabling you to make informed decisions.
Our Warehouse Execution Software (WES) drives the picking process and can group orders for almost any subset required. If multiple packing technologies are used, we will group orders primarily by pack type and then by other common criteria to minimize the handling and the time required to transfer orders from picking to packing.
The packing process is where most productivity gains can be made. We rarely find an operation where one type of packing technology suits every order that is shipped. There are many different types of automated and semi-automated packing solutions that can significantly increase the number of orders completed per hour.
With WES coordinating the packing operation, each order is checked for accuracy regardless of the technology used. This streamlines the process, which not only reduces labor costs but reduces material and freight costs by applying materials and technologies that are less expensive in order to create smaller packaging. The result is reduced parcel carrier costs.
Common Technologies Applied:
- Separating manual tasks like packing, dunnage, and carton closing
- Creating automatic and semi-automatic bagging systems
- Automating cold seal machines
- Automating carton erecting, filling, and sealing systems
- Integrating mechanized dunnage systems
- Integrating automatic pack list insertion
- Including compliance labeling
WES seamlessly integrates shipping by managing packed orders through real-time rate shopping, carrier selection, pre-sorting, and parcel manifesting.
Implementing a Customer-Centric Omnichannel Returns and Exchanges Policy
Having a customer-centric returns and exchanges policy is essential for optimizing your ecommerce distribution. Providing a hassle-free and transparent returns process can enhance the customer experience and build trust. Here are some key considerations:
1. Clear Return Policy: Clearly communicate your return policy on your website. Make sure it’s easy to understand, and include information about return windows, refund methods, and any associated fees. Transparency is key to building trust with your customers.
2. Easy Return Process: Simplify the returns process as much as possible. Provide pre-paid return labels for convenience and offer multiple return options, such as drop-off at a local carrier or pickup from the customer’s location. Make sure the process is well-documented and easy to follow.
3. Efficient Return Handling: Streamline your return handling processes to minimize processing times. Implement a dedicated returns team or partner with a third-party logistics provider that specializes in returns management. This ensures that returned items are processed quickly and refunds are issued promptly.
4. Return Analytics: Analyze return data to identify trends and root causes. Look for patterns in returns, such as common product issues or sizing problems. This information can help you improve product quality, provide better product descriptions, and reduce return rates.
By implementing a customer-centric returns and exchanges policy, you can enhance the customer experience and build loyalty.