Friday, 03 May 2019 11:34

Four essential steps to optimise E-Commerce fulfilment for workflow efficiency

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SPONSORED BY ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES. The rapid rise of the global e-commerce market is a reflection of a shift in consumer attitudes that has made shopping convenience paramount. New consumer expectations of speed and convenience are impacting supply chains in ways never seen before.

In this environment, downtime and inaccurate inventory can cause delays that result in millions of dollars in lost transactions and poor customer experiences. On the other hand, small increases in productivity can make a big impact on customer satisfaction and the bottom line.

So, how do supply chain and logistics professionals access these benefits? The answer is, by optimising operational efficiency in product handling, workflows and use of staff, assets and equipment throughout the fulfilment centre. Superior visibility across your fulfilment centre and partner networks makes greater efficiency possible. With better visibility, you can achieve greater workflow efficiency and collaborate with more partners to get goods delivered to customers faster using flexible omnichannel strategies as you grow.

Step 1 - Three Supply-Chain Visibility and Efficiency Improvement Strategies

With the increased dependencies on omnichannel logistics, industry partners are working under collaborative service-level agreements to get goods to the end customer in a promised timeframe. Implementing these three operational improvement strategies throughout your fulfilment operations can facilitate successful partner collaboration across the supply chain:

1. Equipping workers with modern mobile technology

2. Automating workflows and managing inventory on the front line

3. Adhering to global data capture standards

Step 2 - Equipping workers with modern mobile technology

Giving your workers modern mobile technology to easily and intuitively capture and utilise data at each touch point throughout the fulfilment process gives you reliable inventory visibility at any given moment—providing you with better forecasting and communication with your vendors, suppliers, 3PLs and selling channels.

For example, handheld devices equipped with a built-in barcode scanner or RFID reader, touch screen, camera, enterprise-grade processing power and warehouse-grade durability can reliably, accurately and securely capture data in real time to suit on-demand requirements.

Step 3 - Automate and manage inventory on the front line

Empowering your front-line workers to view and manage inventory is paramount to a successful, optimised e-commerce fulfilment operation. Supply chain operators have much room to improve their inventory accuracy, with participants in a 2018 APAC Zebra survey reporting an average inventory accuracy of only 61 percent.1  Using captured data to track and analyse inventory movement and utilisation enables real-time decision-making throughout multiple operational areas of your fulfilment centre, warehouse or plant so you can optimise interactions with your vendors, suppliers, 3PLs and physical and online selling channels.

So how do you achieve this? Enabling automation can be as simple as introducing new productivity applications to your devices and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Productivity applications can save valuable seconds in repetitious tasks, for example, you can capture multiple barcodes in one scan or trigger pull. Meanwhile, RFID can reduce the amount of manual scanning or counting through active or passive signals, resulting in far greater inventory visibility and accuracy levels.

Step 4- Adhere to global data standards to support effective collaboration

Collaborating more effectively with your industry partners and achieving real-time supply-chain visibility throughout your fulfilment process can be the difference between capitalising on and missing opportunities to meet heightened customer demands. Capturing and sharing data using global data standards is a powerful collaboration practice that helps industry partners use a common language when managing goods and assets across the supply chain. Using the standards allows for fast, accurate and frictionless transactions and analysis that reduce missed opportunities and cultivate greater customer satisfaction.

Benefits to using global data capture standards include; easy identification of goods amid changes in the chain of custody, item-level data capture across your partner supply chain for
further data analysing; and easy-to-understand data and information sharing without
complicated conversion exercises.

To find out more about how you can give your front-line workers better visibility of goods, assets, processes and people, download Zebra’s new whitepaper here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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