Be it any business, success and growth depend on the optimization of every process.
Likewise in logistics, order fulfillment in the warehouse plays a critical role in its success.
Though this process looks simple it probably isn’t.
When we talk about optimizing your overall order fulfillment in logistics, you must focus on two things.
- Good understanding to the whole process
- Different stages of order fulfillment
- Top 4 consequences of manual order fulfillment
- How digitization (with IoT) can speed up the process
Order fulfillment process in logistics
In a nutshell, it encompasses the entire process of a customer ordering a product and its delivery.
Order fulfillment is not about receiving orders but has got more than what meets the eye. The process involves receiving goods from suppliers or manufacturing, short-term storage in a warehouse for distribution, customer order processing (which includes picking and packing) and shipping.
Different stages of order fulfillment
Let’s quickly throw light on the different stages of order fulfillment.
Just imagine what if the entire process is performed manually; there could be a lot of instances where collective efforts of staff and corresponding data can go for a toss, leaving no room for improvements.
Top 4 consequences of manual order fulfillment process
- Lack of process visibility
- High order processing costs
- Order processing errors
- Slower processing cycles
Well, all these consequences could mean only one thing to your business – below par customer experience and brand reputation.
Simple yet effective way to overcome the above challenges is by digitizing the entire order fulfillment process.
How digitization (using IoT) can speed up order fulfillment process
Let’s take every individual stage of the process and see how IoT digitization can speed up the process.
As we discussed earlier, the process is all about receiving goods from supplier or manufacturer.
Here are some of the key activities performed during this stage.
- Product inspection and count
- Damage check
Well, all the above activities when performed manually consume a lot of time and is prone to human errors. The accuracy of the data collected plays a meaty role in the improvement of activity and lack of data could only make the decision making part difficult.
IoT for receiving
Replacing your current legacy systems with IoT could improve the receiving activities significantly. As IoT can provide real-time updates on products, it is easy to count and inspect the products from anywhere and anytime. Also, IoT devices come in handy in identifying the damaged or faulty products in real-time preventing mishaps during delivery.
Here are the key activities performed in this stage.
- Organizing products
- Product search
- Setting up SKUs for each product
- Capturing the number of each SKU
Biggest challenge logistics inventory is organizing and labeling products for making the search easier. With manual only approach, managing the products, stocking and searching the products during crunch times is highly tough.
IoT for storage
With an IoT application or solution, your staff can easily organize the products easily and make them easily searchable. By setting up SKUs and capturing each SKU easily when accessing the product your staff will have no difficulties in searching for any product within the warehouse. This makes the entire storage process simple and seamless.
As the name suggests, this stage is all about picking the right material from the inventory for packing. With manual or legacy systems, identifying the right material out of many is always demanding and requires strenuous efforts. This consumes a lot of time and delays packing.
IoT for picking
With an IoT inventory management system, your staff can easily find any product within a warehouse easily. As the real-time sensors attached to the products help you with alerts when you scan for the product, finding the right product at the right time is never difficult. Also, your staff could have a mountain of time.
Next comes the packing stage. During this stage, the product will be packed in container or boxes for shipping. It is all about packing the right materials on the right box and performing this manually leads to errors in the form of misplaced or missed items. This leads to poor customer experience or returns.
IoT for packing
By labeling the products with IoT-enabled sensors and systems, packing the right items is easy and offers a great deal of help during unpacking. As the staff have the complete data of what kind of products are packed in which container, it is easy to scan and unpack them post shipping. IoT systems also help in counting the overall packed containers and prevents missing of any during the transition.
While picking and packing time of products could affect the shipping stage, there are other factors that could delay shipping. Environmental conditions, route optimizations and package storage temperatures. Manual management of these activities could only worsen your shipping woes. Remember, customers want free shipping and fast deliveries.
IoT for shipping
With an IoT-enabled system for order fulfillment process, you can not only improve your inventory, packing, picking activities but also the shipping. IoT sensors help you with real-time alerts on environmental conditions, rough sea conditions, and alternate routes to ensure faster delivery. Also, with IoT managing the temperature of products in containers is seamless reducing the damage of products during delivery.
In a nutshell, powering your logistics unit with IoT transforms your entire order fulfillment process and helps the staff to perform activities faster and better.
So, if you’re planning to speed up your order fulfillment process, start investing in advanced technology like IoT to leverage the fullest of benefits before delivering an amazing customer experience. Why waiting? Be there before your competitor does.
About the Author
Gengarajan PV CEO Hakuna Matata Solutions a leading Digital transformation services provider. Genga found his calling in sales and marketing early into his career.
He translated his passion for sales and marketing and experience in pre-sales with a multinational corporation into a 400% revenue increase of https://www.hakunamatatatech.com/ in just 8 years.
His typical day at work is a veritable mix of numbers, generating leads, and positioning and enhancing the company’s brand, internally and externally.