5 Factors That Influence Order Picking in the Warehouse
If merchants want to maximize the efficiency of their order fulfillment process, the first thing they must realize is that not all orders are created equal. Just because retailers may receive a purchase at any given moment, that does not mean they need to fulfill that order that second – in fact, fulfilling orders as they come in may wind up being an extremely inefficient way of picking and processing purchases, depending on the needs and requirements of the seller.
Merchants must realize there are numerous different ways to pick orders if they want to maximize their efficiency. It all starts with having the technology in place that enables merchants to quickly process and analyze each order and arrange the picking requests in a way that allows warehouse employees to operate effectively and fulfill whatever needs the merchant has at any given moment. Data such as customer preferences, order histories and other intel can play a pivotal role in the picking process.
Here are 5 factors that merchants should take into consideration as they influence order picking in the warehouse
1. Order priority
Some orders need to be fulfilled more quickly than others. Perhaps the customer purchased next-day delivery, so the order must be picked and packed immediately, or maybe the shopper had a customer service nightmare with the merchant with their last purchases, so retailers may want to make up for it by expediting the delivery time. Maybe yet, the customer spent a lot of money or is a regular patron and merchants want him or her to get their orders promptly to show their appreciation.
Whatever the reason, some orders should be prioritized over others, and this should influence picking strategies.
2. Shipping requirements
As previously noted, sometimes customers may opt for an expedited shipping option, whether it is two-day, next-day or same-day delivery. This means retailers need to pick and pack that order as quickly as possible to ensure it gets out the door promptly. Merchants will always want to keep shipping requirements in mind as they release orders to distribution center employees.
3. Order age
While orders may have different priority levels based on any number of variables, it is crucial that all purchases are picked and packed promptly. At some point, older orders must be picked and packed to ensure a satisfactory turnaround time – retailers cannot simply pick high priority orders while letting other purchases get left behind. At some point, order age itself becomes a priority as well.
4. Picker location
Warehouses are big, and sending pickers from one end of the distribution center to the other can be a huge waste of time. Releasing orders based on pickers’ location can improve the efficiency of the process by minimizing travel time in between picks. A minute here and a minute there can add up in the long haul, and improving picking by minimizing walking distance is an easy way to bolster efficiency.
5. Available inventory
Merchants may not always have the inventory in stock to fill an order, so releasing that order to pickers can result in wasted time. Merchants should always check available inventory when deciding when to release orders and dedicate pickers to orders that can be fulfilled.
Warehouse operations have become more complex over the years, with merchants receiving orders in real-time from a variety of channels. If retailers want to optimize their warehouse operations, it starts by picking and processing orders more efficiently. Factors such as picker location, shipping requirements, order age, inventory availability and priority can all help pickers be more productive in their everyday jobs.