The ability of warehouses to expedite merchandise out the door is making e-commerce a more viable option than ever for holiday shopping. While the Internet has long offered a respite for those who do not wish to stand in long lines at shopping malls, customer usually had to start whittling down their shopping lists earlier in the year.
However, that meant online shopping was not an option for those who needed it most - the last minute shopper who couldn't find time to get to the store. Improved select to ship times have customers ordering closer to Christmas day than ever before, reported The Boston Globe. While there were some logistical hiccups that caused shipping delays during the 2013 holiday season, consumers ordered online until the last minute.
According to the Globe, a survey by the National Retail Federation found that 32 million Americans had not even started shopping as of Dec. 9 this year. Half of those surveyed said they intended to do the remainder of their shopping online - the largest amount since the survey was taken 11 years ago.
New Technology Can Help Keep Pace With E-Commerce Demand
While increased e-commerce is good news for distribution centers, the growing trend makes forecasting increased demand tougher than ever. To keep pace with more orders and consumer expectations supply chain managers should consider adopting new technology that will help them reduce errors and select to ship times.
There are many data collection and warehouse technologies that can help distributors streamline their management:
- Voice picking software: Instead of scanning barcodes, new systems allow workers to track merchandise using check digits. The voice automated software can reduce errors rates by 99 percent. Fewer errors are especially important as consumers order time sensitive packages, such as those for Christmas.
- Automated data collection: Increased collection of information for tracking purposes aides supply chain managers in identifying where in the warehouse order processing is too slow and how shipments move through the entire supply chain.
- Mobile data collection: This technology provides supply chain managers with the ability to collect information about shipments while they are moving on the warehouse floor and from suppliers and third-party logistics companies.
E-commerce has brought many changes to the supply chain for distributors, including increased orders and the implementation of multiple warehouse models. To better serve a nation- and global-wide demand for online orders, supply chain managers must consider making improvements to their tracking and ERP software.