We live in a technological age. Whether it's using our phones to take photos or our computers to watch TV, gadgets and gizmos surround us.
It's clear that technology impacts every aspect of our lives. The fulfillment industry is no different.
When we order something, we don't think too much about where the product is and how it will get to us, but there is a story behind it. The warehouse and inventory management has become significantly more organized, efficient and streamlined, courtesy of technology.
Take the advent of auto-bagging machines that automate the physical side of fulfillment, such as labeling and sealing the packages. This development significantly reduced the conventional bottlenecks of the printing and labeling process. Some of these machines can package as many as 200 items per minute.
Furthermore, this is great technology because it helps cut costs and, in turn, saves clients money, while also increasing productivity. It also uses a bag that is made from 70-percent recycled materials, which keeps the global impact down.
The most popular items are placed toward the middle of the warehouse, and radiate outward from our packing stations
Fewer steps means greater speed, accuracy
Technology has greatly improved efficiency in fulfillment. For example, the use of advanced shipper's notifications, or ASNs, informs the receiving staff what to expect in the upcoming days. This helps the staff better predict what packaging materials, physical bin and pallet space they'll need.
You can now also take advantage of the analytical tools of the control panel. This allows the fulfillment process to flow within a warehouse that is physically organized based upon packaging requirements and order volume. In this warehouse arrangement, the most popular items are placed toward the middle of the warehouse, and radiate outward from our packing stations. Most importantly, this reduces the steps employees must take to fulfill orders.
Communication improves operations
Another piece of technology that has come a long way is 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, his or her address, and any other relevant information.
Each client chooses which cart to offer to their online customers. Understanding the technical requirements to decipher this information is critical to a smooth operation. The client's inventory is then automatically managed, and they have the ability to access their account information from anywhere, at any time.
The technology harnesses common sense to make the whole fulfillment process smoother. These critical bits of information allow the client to achieve what they want—which is the end-user receiving his or her order swiftly and correctly.
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Seth Boylan is the owner/operator of Xpert Fulfillment, an order fulfillment house with locations in Michigan, Minnesota and Europe. An avid race car driver, Seth also enjoys snowmobiling, offroad 4-wheeler trail riding and camping. He has 10 years of experience in the fulfillment and logistics industry.
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.