If you’re preparing to implement a WMS for your eCommerce operations, it’s a good idea to get up to date with some of the terminology you might face. Naturally, the names or descriptions of some things will vary from vendor to vendor so we’re going to explain things as they are using our warehouse management system.
A confusing and often misunderstood aspect of the eCommerce warehouse is the difference between items, containers and locations, and what each of their functions are. So, let us explain.
An item is the most obvious term to understand as it refers to any stock keeping unit (SKU) in the warehouse.
A container can be anything from a pallet to a tote to a box. Items can be stored in a container either as single units or in bulk.
A location is a designated area within the warehouse that can store containers and/or items. The locations can either be fixed or dynamic, meaning that you can move them around to suit the business needs.
>> Items can be stored in a container or in a location.>> Containers can hold multiple items and must be stored in a location.>> Locations cannot be contained within another location as it is its own designated space.>> All three can have individual barcodes.
The benefit of using containers
The main benefit is that with containers you can do a bulk move of inventory. This is more common in retail or wholesale warehouses where an entire pallet might be sent to a retail store, but it does have its uses in eCommerce, too.
With suitable warehouse management software, it is easy to move items from a container to a location, such as during replenishment. All that is required of the operator is to scan the container barcode, scan the item, put it into the new location and scan that location’s barcode.
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