A storage system that keeps pace with online business?
E-commerce has come of age. Long gone are the days when online-shops offered niche products to a handful of early adopters. Today, depending on the industry, up to 75% of all sales are made online. With two-digit growth rates, no business, from book shops to fashion boutiques, food stores to electronics, can afford to leave the online playing field to the competition.
But e-commerce requires more than simply setting up an online shopping system. In an increasingly international market the importance of physical location has been surpassed by the demand for optimized workflows: The question is not where the goods come from, but how fast they arrive.
Surprisingly only a fraction of online businesses operate with warehouses that are optimized for e-commerce.
The challenge of a connected world
In a connected world every business always has to compete with the best. The competition may be located in the same city but it may just as well operate on the other side of the globe. Making an existing goods-workflow fit for international business can be a major task, but it is the necessary foundation for any efficient e-commerce business.
It is in the warehouse that time and money are either wasted or won. Operating with a non-optimized storage system may save money in the short run, but sooner rather than later it will prove to be an expensive liability.
Optimized for e-commerce
Depending on the business, online customers often shop relatively small amounts of varying items: five different books, a pair of shoes and three T-shirts, or simply ingredients for a dinner for two. Picking these items manually in a traditional warehouse would be way too time consuming and expensive for competitive pricing.
In addition, stock keeping units often change frequently in e-commerce businesses, and it is difficult to predict future demand precisely. Operating with static storage systems only adds to the overall stock keeping costs by either wasting resources or time.
With hundreds if not thousands of shops to choose between, online customers have come to expect fast reaction times; independent of the time or weekday the order is placed. This means that the storage system behind the storefront not only has to be operational all day every day, it must also be able to handle sudden peaks and seasonal changes in sales volume. Ideally, without increasing the overall storage cost.
The perfect warehouse system will pick multiple individual items precisely and deliver them in the correct order to the picking station. The perfect system will be fully scalable for lower picking costs and increased accuracy and speed.
One-click buy, one-click return?
A well-known problem according to studies is that about 30% of all online shoppers already plan of returning the goods when ordering. 20% even return goods on a regular basis. At the same time, 50% of the online customers declare that they would stop using online-shops if the shops were to introduce fees for returning goods.
This behavior leaves shop owners with a dilemma. Returned goods mean additional costs for posting and logistics, but these costs cannot be passed on to the customer. The only viable option is to cut logistics costs by streamlining processes.
The perfect warehouse system will not only pick items and prepare them for posting, it will also allow the operator to add goods to the system easily. By automatically updating the inventory, it will make more efficient and economical.
Always ahead of the customer
In most industries, sales are not generated as a continuous stream of orders but fluctuate widely during the day, depending on the season, or in combination with special sales.
To make matters difficult, most warehouses are absolutely static in nature. Goods have their fixed place and cannot be re-organized easily. This means that the placement of items depends on other factors than actual demand. Or simply put, goods are usually stored in the wrong place.
The perfect warehouse system will plan ahead.
By constantly rearranging the goods in the system it will make sure that often demanded items always have the shortest picking time.
All you need is AutoStore – the warehouse system built for e-commerce
AutoStore combines accessibility with speed and precision. Picking hundreds or even thousands of different items a day and combining different goods into orders is now a fully automated process without any picking errors. No more wasted time for removing a single item from a wrapped up box on top of a warehouse shelf. AutoStore automatically delivers the correct amount of items directly to the picking station. Even orders consisting of multiple items are delivered in the right order. No searching or planning necessary.
In conventional warehouses with manual handling of the goods there is always the danger of product damage, misplacement or even loss. AutoStore handles the picking with robot-precision, avoiding the error-prone human factor.
Returned orders also lose their fright. Just as easy as AutoStore picks items and prepares them for shipping it also handles the (re-)adding of goods to the system. Any Port in an AutoStore installation can be configured to add goods to the storage area, be it new items or returns from the customers. And since AutoStore is directly connected to the warehouse management system the inventory is always up to date.
In addition, AutoStore is a truly proactive warehouse system that can prepare orders even before they have been placed. When sales or special offers are coming up AutoStore will automatically rearrange the goods in the storage in order to make the most demanded items instantly available.
But it’s not only the special promotions where AutoStore shines. By design, the position of individual items is constantly optimized according to the incoming orders. This way, the storage locations always reflect the latest sales statistics.
AutoStore e-commerce features in a nutshell
- Perfect for handling large amounts of individual items
- Best goods/m3 ration in the industry
- Proactive storage optimization
- Automated stocktaking for goods in / goods out
- Virtually no picking errors
- Lowest cost per pick ratio