Hi, I’m James Shores, future Chief Marketing Officer at Fishbowl, and today we are going to talk about pick, pack, and ship.
I want to start off – real fast, imagine that you’re going to the grocery store, your spouse has sent you with a list of things that you need to get. How often do you end up wandering the aisles trying to find those few things on your list? You waste a lot of time, you might forget something, and if you don’t bring it all back in a timely manner, your significant other might be just a little upset. Well, the same thing holds true with pick, packing, and shipping, relative to our customers.
So let’s start with the pick side of things. Ideally, in our warehouse, we want to have it laid out where we have optimal inventory, the closest thing is the most readily used thing for our company or business. And with that, we need to create something of a single path, meaning we’re not wandering up and down the aisles trying to find whatever it is on our list. We need to be able to pass through once and be done with that section; and with that, if we can be able to do multiple orders at once – so then we’re not going out, coming back, going out, coming back – we really have a chance to save a lot of time and money.
Packing; we need a uniform system. Specifically, you need (this may seem simple, but you need) a clear space to work with. If you’ve got a lot of clutter, if it’s just kind of “throw it in whatever,” you’re apt to either miss something, not pack it properly, or not protect it – which is also part of this process – not protect it in the right manner, so that when it arrives at your customers doorstep, it may be broken, it may not be alright. And we don’t want that.
Shipping; we want to be able to track this – both how soon they’re able to pick up the package and also how quickly they’re able to get it on our customers’ doorstep. And with that, we need to be able to alert the customer. This is a big part of the customer experience that a lot of companies miss out on, where they want to know if you actually care about them and the product that you’re shipping to them. Letting them know that their package has been sent out and when they can expect to receive it is a big way to keep that communication with your customers, and to keep them loyal.
So now let’s look at it from either side. From our manual process, if that’s what we’re doing with our business, or the benefits of an automated process.
So, from the manual side, we get our order from our customer, but we may not even have that inventory in stock. They want product X, but we may not have it in our shelves and we don’t actually know until we go out there. When we do get out there if we have it we check it off to make sure we’ve shown, okay I have this product both for packing but also for inventory count, and then later submit this into whatever method we’re using, whether it’s a spreadsheet or other forms of inventory tracking.
Again, along the whole way, packing, we need to be checking, triple checking, to make sure that every item is in the box and going out to our customer. And then when it comes to the shipment side we either have to call or set up an appointment online, to make sure that the carrier is coming to get our goods, to send them out, but also to try and figure out how soon, how much – all these things that relate to our shipments.
And finally, all of this information we have to put into our filing system. We have to take records, both for the finance and account sides of our business, but also so that we know how much to reorder when we get to that point and have to really break down the numbers.
So let’s compare this to the automated side of our business processes – if we can do this. So with automated software, one, we get the order from our customer and we know immediately if that inventory is in stock so that we can say, “Yes I have it, I’m going to go get it.” We use our barcode scanner to both single pass through our warehouse, through our inventory, and immediately scan and say, “I have this item,” which updates in our inventory.
And then later in the packing process, again, we’re scanning using the barcode so that we know we have the right amount and the correct items shipping out to our customers, again, so it updates with our inventory control.
And finally with shipment, again, this is all through the same software. We can know who we’re shipping out through, what their rates are, how much and how soon, and an estimated arrival time, with the ability to alert our customer as soon as that shipment goes out. That’s a big deal.
All of this, again, goes into a central hub, into that one computer, into that one software, so that we can keep track of our finances, of our inventory levels, and a whole history of all these processes, so we can say “Yep, I know I scanned this thing at this date, and this user used this particular item and sent it to this customer.”
The whole point of which is to have good data, which we keep stressing. That’s what helps us have good business decisions, and that’s the point of any kind of automated software; is to help our company both stay competitive and also be efficient and keep our customers happy.
That’s this Whiteboard Wednesday. Join us again next week. Thanks.