Slowly but surely, eCommerce keeps taking bigger pieces of the retail pie. That’s old news by now, but even so, businesses still hit snags in fulfilling online orders. Even mature enterprises are still working out how to keep online orders synced with stock for better fulfillment. That means they’re still developing their warehouse processes, as well as reevaluating their inventory management software.
Inventory Management: Mission Critical in the Warehouse
For larger organizations, that shift in customer behavior has put “tremendous strains” on fulfillment processes, according to a recent survey. Executives at these companies identify fulfilling more orders faster, at lower cost, and reducing order errors as the top challenges they face in the warehouse. That all comes down to keeping up with changing customer behavior and increasing expectation of fast convenient fulfillment. Their biggest bottleneck to meeting the challenge: inventory management. In fact, that may be the issue for eCommerce brands of all sizes.
Keeping Order, Keeping Pace
The challenge is to put processes in place that keep stock and picking processes in sync with eCommerce orders. The hard truth, however, is that companies can’t keep pace with growing online sales. Their inventory management processes for smaller, growing brands typically involve tracking orders on their eCommerce platform, adjusting stock in a spreadsheet, and setting orders to pick using yet another piece of software. These are usually not integrated, which means for every sale they made online, they had to manually enter data in different places. That approach doesn’t just eat up time with administration, it also risks data entry errors that can result in incorrect shipments, inventory levels or delays in picking and dispatching.
eCommerce, Multichannel Breakdowns
Obviously, the more work you have to do to complete an order, the more difficult it gets to keep customers happy. Brands start to feel that pain when they grow. They can’t keep up with increased eCommerce order volume, or sales on a new marketplace channel, or the complexity of a new physical retail channel. Their old inventory management processes lead to mistakes in the warehouse. Sometimes they run out of stock unexpectedly, sometimes they sell the same product twice. In either case, they have to spend time dealing with a disappointed customer who may never shop with them again.
True for Warehouse and 3PLs
While eCommerce has driven the growth of 3PLs for outsource warehousing, many brands find it more cost effective to run their own warehouse. Either way, as they grow, their inventory management software and processes must align their eCommerce growth with their fulfillment processes. They need to see all their orders in real-time to adjust stock levels and avoid double-selling and stock outs. They also need to be sure the information on their picking slip matches the order their customer made. Finally, to keep admin costs down, they need to automate as much of these processes as possible: routing orders to the warehouse, adjusting stock, and generating picking slips.
This is one of the reasons eCommerce brands use Cin7 when they begin to sell through more channels. Cin7 is a management platform that keeps orders, stock levels and pick slips synced. It also automates the processes that get the order from their online channels to their warehouse operations. Brands can integrate Cin7 with their outsourced 3PL warehouse or use it in the warehouse they run themselves. Find out more how Cin7 can help your brand by clicking the button below.
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