We were really excited when Starshipit invited us to be a part of their Shipping Masterclass series at the start of the year. This video series brings together a collection of ecommerce experts in various fields, like loyalty programs, customer experience, and in our case, warehouse management. All the episodes are available here.
Starshipit and Peoplevox have a long history of close collaboration, with our shared customers doing some extraordinary things across the APAC region. In our session, Hawk Steele and Leo Connolly talk through when the right time is to implement a WMS for retailers and ecommerce businesses. Here are the top 5 takeaways:
1 – 67% of retailers have lost customers due to simple warehouse inventory errors.
This shows how important it is to have efficient systems and accurate stock levels, especially when you consider how expensive it is to win new customers, how competitive the market is in big ecommerce niches like women’s fashion, and how loyal customers can spend more and more with you each time they come back.
2 – Throwing people at the problem stops making sense sooner than you might think.
As order volumes grow from the 10s to the 100s, the natural thought of business owners is to bring more people in to help pick and pack orders. ‘More hands make light work’ is NOT true in this world. Industry benchmarks suggest that even a basic digital system for order fulfillment can enable one person to pick 50 items an hour. So if you’ve got 8 people in your warehouse and they’re struggling to handle 200 orders a day, your issue isn’t a lack of manpower. It’s a lack of technology, automation and efficiency. A system that makes your existing people more effective provides a far greater ROI than another 5 members of staff clogging up your warehouse aisles.
3 – Trust the experts.
Not many brand founders set up a commerce business because they want to run a razor sharp warehouse operation. Whether it’s hiring an experienced operations director early on, trusting partners, or implementing the right systems, getting ahead on the set-up in the warehouse is only going to lay strong foundations for the future. You might be doing things a certain way based on instinct, like storing each product in only one location, like a retail store. Whereas a WMS might allow you to deploy dynamic locations, saving you space, increasing your pick density and reducing errors.
4 – Paper must go.
For any business looking to scale effectively, relying on paper pick lists is a recipe for disaster, both from an inventory management and an environmental perspective. We’ve seen enough times in warehouses, pieces of paper with items to be picked lying around behind shelves, scrumpled up and otherwise misplaced. That’s an unhappy customer missing their order waiting to happen! There’s no way for events to be tracked in real time, inventory will always be slightly ‘wrong’ in the ecommerce platform, and there’s no way to handle issues or missing items.
5 – More haste, less speed.
Ecommerce moves incredibly fast and is one of the most dynamic industries. Decisions can happen on the spot and changes implemented in days, not weeks or months like in other sectors. However, rushing a warehouse set-up can have long lasting consequences. When putting in a WMS, you need to barcode every item and every location for it to work effectively. This might be a labour-intensive process up front but will pay off in spades down the line when you have full traceability of your inventory and the activity in your warehouse.