Ecommerce Warehousing: Best Practices to Increase Efficiency

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  • The importance of ecommerce warehouse safety
  • How ecommerce warehouse safety increases productivity
  • What are the different types of warehouse fulfilment centres?
  • Benefits of ecommerce warehousing solutions

Small to midsize ecommerce businesses often overlook warehousing and focus more on marketing and driving conversion rates.

Don’t be one of those sellers!

Ecommerce warehousing is about more than just storing physical goods before selling them online. Business owners must also take staff wellbeing and warehouse safety into account to create a productive working environment.

According to the latest statistics from the national health and safety regulator in Britain, Health & Safety Executive, in 2020/21, the transportation and storage sector fatal injury rate was approximately two times higher than the average rate across all industries in the UK.

Unfortunately, warehouse injuries and fatalities continue to rise amid the growth in ecommerce, fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. While ecommerce may not be as complex as the work required to handle chemicals and other hazardous substances, increased demand for warehousing roles has led to a surge in training from health and safety assessment services.

The ecommerce boom has seen businesses come under increasing pressure to fulfil a high volume of orders accurately and fast. However, with employees working at faster paces, the risk of injury also increases.

So how do ecommerce warehouses enhance occupational safety and wellbeing now that employees are working faster than ever, picking and packing shipments, stocking shelves and driving forklift trucks?

We will cover ecommerce safety guidelines and best practices you can follow to maximise efficiency while keeping your warehouse staff safe. But first, let’s go into detail about what ecommerce warehousing entails.

What is ecommerce Warehousing?

Ecommerce warehousing refers to the process of safely securing and storing goods before they are sold online and delivered to the consumer.

It’s easy to think of ecommerce warehousing as a place to house stock, but it’s also about tracking the status and movement of your products, including quantity levels and how long they’ve been in stock.

Many of our readers will probably know first-hand that managing a warehouse is no easy task, especially if you don’t have any support. That’s why business owners seek ecommerce warehousing solutions to help manage their stock.

However, ecommerce warehousing also involves:

  • Employee management
  • Coordinating the flow of inventory and equipment
  • Anticipating customer demand to avoid under or overstocking
  • Monitoring health and safety risks

If you can no longer store your products in your garage or living room and are considering an ecommerce warehousing solution, keeping your warehouse staff safe is critical.

Why Is Warehouse Safety Important?

The HSE in the UK and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States play a fundamental role in manufacturing, logistics, and other industries.

Though warehouse employees may not be exposed to hazardous chemicals, warehousing roles present specific risks, including:

  • slips and trips
  • falling objects
  • working at height
  • being hit by a moving vehicle
  • and heavy equipment.

If you want to avoid being fined by health and safety regulators, you must follow legislation on warehouse management.

Steps you can take to enhance the safety of your workplace include:

  • Practising good housekeeping to ensure routes are free from obstructions
  • Ensuring staff are equipped with the appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Providing training in manual handling techniques

In addition to complying with health and safety standards, there are four main reasons why monitoring health and safety in the warehouse is essential.

Protect Warehouse Employees

Failure to protect warehouse staff could expose employers to legal and financial repercussions, proving bad for business.

Your warehouse employees are essential workers. Ensuring their health and wellbeing will create a more productive workforce by reducing absences which allows your warehouse operations to run more smoothly, saving your business money.

It is morally right to ensure your employees are protected at work, and research has shown that employees are more productive in workplaces that prioritise health and safety.

Increases Warehouse Productivity

Happy workers will be more efficient and productive.

Furthermore, if you’re taking the time to inspect the workplace regularly, ensuring adequate lighting, routes are unobstructed, and the appropriate training is being delivered, this will produce a more efficient working system.

How you establish workflows within your warehouse will have a significant impact on productivity, health and safety. For example, suppose you implement a one-way system in the warehouse. In that case, this could help eliminate congestion and reduce the risk of forklift operators needing to reverse, which reduces the potential for collision.

Prevent Damaged Stock

Enhancing worker safety can also mitigate the risks of damaged stock in your warehouse.

Carry out a manual handling assessment and redesign tasks to reduce the need to move heavy loads manually, which will reduce the risk of damaged inventory and protect staff from musculoskeletal injury.

If handling heavy loads is unavoidable, provide training in manual handling techniques to reduce the risk of injury.

Consider separating areas for dispatching and receiving the merchandise to avoid collision and prevent theft. Proper warehouse inventory management will also minimise the risk of items falling and optimise logistic costs, which can cost wholesalers millions every year.

Attract Investors and Partnerships

Sometimes, you may need to demonstrate your awareness and commitment to corporate social responsibility to attract investors and partnerships, including knowledge on how to protect warehouse employees.

Investing in workplace health and safety is excellent PR for your ecommerce business and could give your brand a competitive edge in attracting new staff, customers and investors.

Customers will be far more satisfied with your business if you demonstrate good warehouse management and deliver a higher standard of health and safety protections in the workplace.

Establishing new partnerships can also help support your health and safety commitments as you expand and enter new markets to access new customers or opportunities.

What are the Different Types of Warehouses for ecommerce

If you’re considering warehousing your ecommerce stock, it’s essential to know the benefits of the different types of warehouses.

1. Private Warehouses

One of the most significant advantages of private warehouses is that the owner has complete control over its operation.

Although they are more expensive than other options, private warehouses tend to have more advanced warehouse management systems, which is an advantage in itself.

According to recent figures, the use of private warehouses in the US has grown by more than 20% over the past decade – so you can see its commercial viability.

2. Public Warehouses

Unlike private warehouses, public warehouses are owned by third-party agencies which rent out the space to businesses and individuals.

They offer great flexibility, providing ecommerce businesses with temporary or long-term storage and are more affordable than private alternatives as there are no capital investment or property tax liabilities.

3. Government Warehouses

Another affordable option is government warehouses; however, unlike public warehouses, you will have less control over the facility’s management.

Still, this has its benefits as government warehouses offer increased security, ideal for ecommerce businesses that sell high-value items. However, if you default on your rent, they could sell your products to recoup their costs. In addition, the initial setup expense for a government warehouse is also costly.

4. Distribution Centres

The main benefits of using a distribution centre revolve around maximising efficiency and warehouse fulfilment.

As distribution centres specialise in performance, products are received and dispatched rapidly. These warehousing options are popular among food retailers and other ecommerce businesses that need to move inventory quickly and are also low in cost.

5. Smart Warehouses

If you want a hyper-efficient warehousing option, look no further than smart warehouses.

A smart warehouse takes a distribution centre’s efficiency to another level, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline warehouse operations and automate the process as much as possible.

According to recent data, one-third of warehouses are already using AI to facilitate their warehousing operations or planning to in the future. Amazon is one of several companies using smart warehouses.

6. Consolidated Warehouses

If you’re looking for an economical warehousing solution, consolidated warehouses are cost-saving and efficient.

Consolidated warehouses allow you to ship smaller orders more frequently by merging multiple shipments from different sellers into one large consignment, reducing picking errors and increasing employee safety, all of which will positively impact your organisation.

7. Cooperative Warehouses

As the name suggests, cooperative warehouses are owned by businesses owned and run by their members. As a result, members can take advantage of exclusive benefits such as reduced rates and increased control.

However, if you’re not a co-op member, you’ll have to pay the total rate and could experience reduced operational control.

The Benefits of ecommerce Warehousing

So, we’ve discussed the different types of warehouse options, but what are the benefits to ecommerce warehousing?

Here are three key benefits of warehousing ecommerce products that could help you grow your online business.

1. Increase Shipping Times and Win More Customers

Ecommerce competition is as fierce as ever following the impact of COVID-19, and with more people shopping online, shipping speed is just as important as the associated costs.

According to Big Commerce statistics, more than 75% of people shop online at least once a month. Meanwhile, separate data shows that 67% of online consumers expect to receive their orders within two days or less, with only a third of those surveyed willing to wait longer than that.

Using a warehouse fulfilment centre for your ecommerce store could help you meet customer expectations and deliver your products to them more quickly. It would also help to strengthen your relationship with your customers and make your store more attractive to prospects.

2. Improve Product Management

Did you know that 62% of small-to-medium sized ecommerce stores report “human error from manual process management” as their biggest inventory issue?

You could minimise the risks by using a warehouse fulfilment centre designed with safety, security, and efficiency in mind, helping you organise, ship, and receive inventory as quickly as possible.

Ecommerce warehousing could help you improve the accuracy of inventory management and prevent loss or damage as they are purpose-built facilities with systems to detail and track your current inventory and analyse demand levels throughout the year.

Gone are the days of accidentally shipping the wrong product, under or overstocking and incurring damage.

3. Saves Time So You Can Devote More Time to Marketing

For ecommerce merchants, time is valuable.

Freeing up the time it takes to search through piles of inventory, pick and pack products and ship them to customers could be spent doing something more productive. However, if you use an ecommerce warehouse, that time could be better spent on marketing, sourcing new avenues for revenue and improving customer service.

Many sellers make the mistake of delaying using a warehouse fulfilment centre, fearing that it will eat up their precious budget. However, in reality, the benefits of using an ecommerce website outweigh the costs.

Using an ecommerce warehouse allows your business to fulfil orders quicker, protect and manage inventory, and scale your growth.

 

At Pointbid, we implement order fulfilment solutions for a range of e-commerce brands from start-ups to medium-sized businesses. If you think that outsourcing your order fulfilment could help your business grow in 2022, please give us a call on 0121 326 7368.

 

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