According to a Statista survey, e-retail sales accounted for 18 percent of all retail sales worldwide in 2020. This figure is expected to reach 21.8 percent by 2024. As this number rises, people’s reliance on e-commerce for fulfilling their shopping needs increases as well. Retailers who are cognizant of this change are already strengthening their infrastructure to meet the steady increase in demand. To keep up with this upsurge in e-commerce, retailers have to build an efficient system within their warehouses that supports a strong supply chain and last-mile delivery network.
An integral part of ensuring customer satisfaction in e-commerce is error-free, efficient order processing. Two steps that immediately follow order placement are picking and packing at the warehouse, and successful order fulfillment is completely dependent on them. Dispatching a wrong item not only leads to returns but also causes customer dissatisfaction leading to a loss of customer trust.
Strategies deployed to ensure efficiency and accuracy at the picking stage.
- Piece picking – Or single order picking involves handpicking of each product as mentioned in a customer order. Pickers move through the warehouse, collecting the products that are a part of a single order. All the items are collected and packed as one shipment. Only one order is fulfilled at one time. This method works the best in smaller warehouses where order fulfillment is a simple and uncomplicated process.
- Batch picking – Instead of individual orders, batches of multiple orders are picked at the same time. This can help speed up the order fulfillment process and is best suited at warehouses that receive many orders for the same products repeatedly. WMS can generate a consolidated pick list of multiple orders, and SKUs, as pickers can pick them collectively and segregate them order-wise at the packing station.
- Zone picking – Larger warehouses are divided into zones and each zone has a dedicated team of employees servicing it. If the items in an order are distributed across different zones, they are collated by passing a single box from zone to zone manually or on a conveyor belt. The order can also be collated in the packing zone. This method proves efficient as employees stay put in their zones and reduce the time spent moving throughout the warehouse.
- Wave picking – A combination of batch and zone picking, employees in this picking format, collect items from a single zone but for more than one order at a time. Wave picking works the best for large warehouses that handle high volumes of orders at all times. Consolidated picklists are created based on factors such as sales channels, order type, priorities, delivery dates, customer location, etc. SKUs are picked from various zones at the same time, sent to the sorting and packing station to be consolidated, and shipped to customers.
Once all the items are picked, they are brought to the packing area where they are sorted as per channels of sale or priority. Consolidation of items of a single order at the packing station can help reduce shipping costs and promote the company’s sustainable goals.
B2C vs B2B Picking and Packing
While B2C order picking is usually in the wave or batch format, B2B order processing follows an order-wise picking strategy.
In the B2B scenario, products are ordered for commercial use and are often in bulk quantities. These are high stake orders with significant financial implications. Fulfilling these order requests often takes longer lead times, considerable planning, and more documentation. There is often a strict compliance and quality process in place to ensure that order fulfillment is done accurately.
Order-wise picking allows orders to be processed even if a part of the order can be packed and dispatched at a time. Considering the quantity and volume of these orders, processing parts of an order as per availability can increase efficiency and reduce lead times. Orders are processed as per the bandwidth of the warehouse and shipping partners. The rest of the order gets dispatched when it is ready. This is different from B2C picking and packing, where an order can be closed only when all the items in an order are collated and packed in a single shipment.
Improving the efficiency of B2B and B2C picking and packing
Integrating a new-age warehouse management system enables employees with the right instructions and tech solutions to seamlessly execute and dispatch both B2C and B2B orders. It exponentially improves the productivity levels and efficiency of your warehouse.
Increff WMS, the new-age WMS, is a web-based cloud-hosted multi-channel warehousing solution that helps retailers improve warehousing efficiency by digitizing processes.
- Inventory serialization promotes digitization of warehousing processes that do not involve the use of pens, paper, or keywords
- It is 100% scan based with UPB integration for 100% inventory tracking
- It allows B2B and B2C order processing from a single platform
- WMS generates smart pick-paths to speed up the picking process for accurate picking and faster order fulfillment.
- The system displays essential details such as product pictures and details, on a handheld device, during GRN, picking, and packing to avoid errors
- It allows multi-system and multi-channel integration to centralize inventory tracking on one platform
Use a smart WMS, built keeping in mind the modern-day challenges and requirements. Get started in less than 7 days with Increff WMS.