As more people turn to online shopping, the pressure on warehouse performance and efficiency grows. Canadian Manufacturing reported this increase in online shopping means more products are shipped directly from warehouses to consumers, and warehouse managers will likely realize they need the most up-to-date inventory tracking and data collection tools to ensure a high level of customer service is met.
One of the challenges warehouses may face from online consumer orders is packaging and shipping a small number of products with each order. Compared to large orders shipped to retailers, warehouses are shipping smaller quantities directly to consumers, sometimes just one or two products.
"Large volumes of small quantity orders present both order accuracy and order processing cost challenges," the article stated.
Warehouses also need to make sure they are delivering the right product on time. Companies may have felt the pressure recently during the holiday shopping season. Online shopping this season increased 16 percent compared to 2011, according to data released by ComScore. Consumers spent $38.7 billion online, some just days before Christmas. Among the top five online retailers, Amazon.com reported record highs this season.
The Amazon warehouse, and those for other online companies, likely realized having the right inventory tracking tools makes distributing products easier and quicker. Product tracking is essential to business, Canadian Manufacturing reported. A barcode reader or other mobile data collection devices will make it possible for companies to trace products from the distribution center through the delivery transportation network, the article stated.
Mobile scanners can be vehicle-mounted or handheld scanners, the article stated, and used to scan labels on products so their movement throughout the delivery process can be tracked. The information collected from these devices can also be integrated into a warehouse's ERP system with data collection software provided by RFgen, which will allow managers to gain more insight on operations and identify where improvements can be made to make the delivery process more efficient.
Once the product reaches its destination, the barcode can once again be scanned, sending information back to the warehouse's ERP system where it will be electronically recorded for proof of delivery, the article stated. If using mobile scanners and data collection tools, backing up the devices with a battery system so no data is lost during a power failure might be a wise course of action.