Conducting e-commerce means that sooner or later you will face the challenge of choosing the right warehouse. Regardless of whether you want to build or rent one, it should be adapted to the needs of electronic trade. What should you pay attention to when choosing a warehouse for e-commerce?
Your trade model and the type of goods you sell have a decisive influence on what type of building and storage equipment you need. This is especially important when choosing or building an e-commerce facility. It should be designed not only for storage, replenishment and shipping of goods, but also enable the execution of the many other tasks related to the service of orders.
Where your warehouse is located matters
The first issue to be resolved is the location of the warehouse – crucial for how quickly you can fulfil orders. In electronic commerce, delivery time plays a key role. Customers do not want to wait longer than a few days, and more and more often they expect delivery on the next or even on the same day as they placed their order.
Large e-commerce businesses use, apart from a central warehouse, a network of regional and local storage facilities. Smaller traders usually use outsourcing of warehouse and logistics services. Good location for your own or rented storage facility means not only coordinates on a map, but also good transport connections. This is the quality, availability and capacity of roads that influence the actual delivery time. A second, less obvious factor that affects the location of warehouses, is the labour market. Big fish in the industry choose those areas where it is easy to find staff to perform warehouse work.
Technology adds value to the warehouse
Electronic trade requires that the warehouse should be precisely tailored to the sizes of the goods sold. They determine the height of the shelves, the width of the alleys or the surface of the picking places. So, all these parameters will be different for the fashion industry, household appliances, power tools or furniture.
However, the effectiveness of the e-commerce warehouse is increased by the use of modern technologies. The greater the automation of the storage facility, the better. All processes that can be handled without participation, or only under the supervision of human staff, are worth their weight in gold. Automation allows you to avoid problems with employment or absences due to illness. As a result, orders can be completed even during periods of epidemic.
Technology also means the application of WMS systems for picking with the use of barcodes and readers. WMS connected to your CMS will provide automatic reporting of each order. If you can connect WMS with your ERP system, it will improve and largely automate the issuing of invoices. Co-operation between systems translate into a significant shortening of order fulfilment. Integration also means better control over the flow of goods and reducing the number of errors during order completion.
A warehouse is not only a stock of goods
Warehouse services for e-commerce are not limited to storage, stock replenishment, shipping and the completion of orders. In e-commerce, Value-Added Services are of particular importance. VAS is everything connected with order fulfilment. In a warehouse, whether rented or purpose-built for electronic commerce, you must provide space and equipment to perform processes referred to as co-packing. It means packaging of goods, labelling, inserting and all other activities related to shipment preparation. Repacking goods into new packages is also extremely important. These can be collective packaging, but also, for example, decorative gift packaging that raises the aesthetic value of goods. All of these operations may benefit from the use of packing planning algorithms. Thanks to them, you can avoid errors when ordering packaging and significantly speed up the process of completing orders.
By broadening the range of services, warehouses become a place to build competitive advantage in the e-commerce industry. Therefore, time and effort spent on determining their parameters and the kind of equipment needed is crucial for sales performance.