E-commerce Fulfillment Center
The stupendous growth and expansion of the e-commerce sector mean there is ample choice for the customer and this directly translates to a demanding customer who seeks the best service from a brand. Such a scenario makes it imperative that e-commerce brands leave no stone unturned in providing value and satisfaction in a time-bound manner to the customer.
This can be ensured if an e-commerce brand pays close attention to two critical components in the e-commerce ecosystem namely order management and warehousing. An e-commerce system kicks into action as soon as the order is received on the portal, which is then directed to an online fulfilment centre or ecommerce fulfillment warehouse and is delivered to the customer.
Amongst this chain of events, the fulfilment centre plays a pivotal role in ensuring the timely delivery of the order. And the best way to ensure the streamlined functioning of a fulfillment center is through standardizing critical processes through Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This write-up is an attempt to interest readers on how to bring standardization and incorporation of SOPs into processes in a fulfilment centre or fulfillment warehouse. Let’s understand the critical areas where process standardization is a must:
- Inbound Operations: This is the manner in which an online business receives stocks from external sources or manufacturers into the warehouse location. Upon arrival, there is the registration of the stock with a barcode scanner. This is followed by quality and quantity checks of the stock from where it is transferred to the respective bins in the warehouse. Apart from these procedures, there can also be other paperwork like purchase order (PO), gate entry, inbound transfer order, supplier invoice, sales return order, and so on. All this paperwork is vital to the tracking of inbound goods. But at times, these can become cumbersome unless there are standardized processes in place with SOPs. Through standard operating procedures for warehouse operations, the entire mechanism becomes more streamlined with minimal room for error or lapses.
- Outbound Operations: The outbound operations pertain to receiving orders, generation of a pick-up list, and the ordered items are picked-out from the respective bins. These are later packaged and dispatched to the respective customers. For smooth functioning of the outbound operations, companies must choose the right distribution networks, maintain a robust inventory monitoring system, and should ideally have the maximum number of delivery options. The outbound operations happen in phases, here the sales department first receives the order from the customer which is then forwarded to the warehouse for picking, packaging and dispatch. Once the order is delivered the inventory management system automatically makes real-time adjustments to the inventory levels. This long list of processes can be standardized using SOPs to ensure the seamless working of the outbound operations.
- Product Returns: This is one of those crucial practices that helps an e-commerce brand earn trust and drive sales in the long-term. The faster a fulfillment system works the earlier the customer would get a refund. Also, certain e-commerce brands only allow the return of certain categories of products subject to approval from sellers. In such a situation, it becomes essential that the customer remains updated on the status of the return through customer service channels. All these processes have to work in a seamless fashion to make returns efficient that will keep the customer satisfied. By having standardized SOPs, any gaps in the return process can be mitigated, and the overall efficiency can be improved. This process is very crucial to build customer trust and brand loyalty.
- Warehouse Design Layout: Improving the operational efficiency of warehouse operations is directly dependent on the layout design. Practices like warehouse slotting and slotting optimization are the common practices for improving warehouse efficiency. Warehouse slotting refers to the concept of finding an appropriate storage location for each commodity while slotting optimization allows the staff to pick items from the warehouse quickly to be delivered to the customer in the fastest possible time. Besides this, there are other processes like room management, optimal solutions to aisle layout, and operation area workflows that are known to improve efficiency across the board. Also, you need to be knowledgeable about shelving options that can improve productivity by a large margin. SOPs can be incorporated right from the layout design stage to get the maximum output from warehouse operations.
Role of SOPs in Fulfilment Centre
- Improves Overall Operations: By incorporating SOPs into the running of a fulfillment center, the e-commerce brand can reduce the existing error rates and to a large extent can improve the productivity among the staff working at the fulfilment centre.
- Defining KPIs and SLAs: SOPs can be integral to the creation and achievement of KPIs associated with the online business. Moreover, SOPs can streamline the creation and adherence to service level agreements (SLAs) by internal and external stakeholders associated with the business.
- Reduce Negative Customer Reviews: With the streamlining of warehouse operations through SOPs, the chances of negative reviews from the customer are brought to the minimum and the probability of them converting to repeat customers remain quite high.
Why YRC for Creation of SOPs for eCommerce fulfillment center?
YRC as a consultancy comes with extensive experience of having helped clients in more than 25 different e-commerce niches. This makes it possible for us to create customized SOPs suited to your needs. We are especially known for creating system-dependent SOPs that require minimal manual interventions. In addition, we make it a point to create SOPs which are well-articulate, easily accessible, and system-integrated. This makes the incorporation of our SOPs into the existing IT systems quite easy that translates to visible results on the ground. Overall, our SOPs are created by academically trained domain experts who come with hands-on experience in creating and running successful e-commerce operations.
- SOPs Writing
- Layout Designing
- Warehouse Consulting
- E-commerce Consulting
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