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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Increased Pick Accuracy

Today’s blog entry is part five of a continuing series regarding e-commerce and successful book fulfillment. In case you are just joining us now, the previous four topics have discussed scalability, integration and 3rd party sites, real-time communication of order details and inventory visibility and synchronization.

# 5: Increased Pick Accuracy

Today’s customers expect to receive the correct product in a timely fashion. In a time when accuracy is not something to be compromised, it is good to know that the best fulfillment centers utilizing barcode scanning technology at the time of pick-and-pack can dramatically increase accuracy over the old pick-to-paper model.

Barcode scanning functionality directs a warehouse picker to the correct inventory location as well as verifying the picked product. It is critical to have the capability to immediately verify that the correct SKU was selected at the time the product is picked. Having this real-time verification based on the Item Number or UPC barcode provides immediate feedback to the picker. Barcode scanning is one of the best ways to increase shipment accuracy resulting in happier customers and consumers.

With the growth of online sales increasing substantially over the next 5 years, e-commerce is one of the best ways to make yourself and your business accessible all the time. Providing accurate book fulfillment services is key to keep customers happy and increase customer loyalty to your brand. The next entry will discuss custom branded packing slips and integration with different shipping services – so check back, you won’t want to miss it.

Integration and Third-Party Sites

Over the past few weeks I’ve been discussing some essentials for successful e-commerce fulfillment. Online sales in 2010 were forecasted to increase by over 10% from 2009, and an even larger increase is predicted for 2011. Knowing what’s important to the e-retailer from a warehousing and fulfillment perspective is essential. I’m hoping that as we continue to go through this list you’ll be able to learn more about how to handle e-commerce fulfillment successfully. Today’s entry discusses #3 on the list: Amazon Integration.

Integration and Third-Party Sites

In addition to your own website, it is vitally important to be integrated with other major third-party sites such as Amazon and E-Bay. When doing business with Amazon, it can be a manual or an automated process.

The manual process is considered the most complex. You go to your website, print the orders, re-key them into your order entry system, and finally, manually update the records in Amazon’s system to confirm the order shipment.

The main concern with this process is the potential for error. Anytime you are required to re-key something, with each keystroke the possibility for errors increases dramatically.

It’s no secret that the preferred method is to import and export files between the systems automatically. Amazon gives you the capability to import and export files in 5 or 6 different file options such as CSV file, a text file or tab-delimited file. Automating the file transfer using web service calls will completely eliminate the possibility of keying errors and reduces the cost of the transaction.

Stay tuned as the next post will discuss handling larger order volumes…

9 Essentials for Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment

Recently I read an article by Forrester Research, a leading research firm tracking online sales. In the article they reported that in the United States, online sales in 2010 are forecasted to reach $172.9 billion, an 11% increase from 2009. In 2009, it was reported that 67% of the online population made a purchase online. The most popular items being sold online include computers, apparel and consumer electronics.

This got me thinking about what is important to the e-Retailer from a warehousing and fulfillment perspective. The list below contains what I believe to be the 9 essentials for successful e-commerce fulfillment. Today’s entry will be focused on #1 – inventory visibility and synchronization. Over the coming weeks each of the 9 items on this list will be discussed, so make sure to check back. Click on any of the links below to view specific entries.

  1. Inventory Visibility & Synchronization
  2. Real-time Communication of Order Details between Shopping Cart Software and the Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  3. Amazon Integration
  4. Handling Larger Order Volumes
  5. Increased Pick Accuracy
  6. Custom Branding Packing Slips
  7. Integration with Shipping Systems
  8. EDI Integration
  9. Automatic Email Notifications

Inventory Visibility & Synchronization

Nothing can spoil your relationship with your customers like allowing them to place an order for a product that is not available. One of the most important features of having an e-commerce site is to have your inventory accurately reflected in the shopping area so clients can purchase your products. Your fulfillment partner’s warehouse management system must be able to update your shopping cart software with current inventory levels.

Keeping track of your stock with a warehouse management system (WMS) is essential because your inventory can become depleted from many different sources. Purchases and shipments can be initiated by shopping cart orders, salesperson samples, retail store orders, and wholesale/distribution channel orders to name a few.

Since these sources could quickly exhaust supply, it is important to have an automated and regularly scheduled inventory update from the WMS to the shopping cart. Typically, inventory levels are updated once a day or once per week depending on the popularity of the products. This ensures that out-of-stock items are not displayed (or are listed as such) to consumers visiting your online store. By accurately reflecting your inventory on your website, you can manage backorder issues and customer expectations.

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