In simple terms, eCommerce warehousing is the process of storing products, goods and inventory for an online store. At ProSku, ProSKU we offer a SaaS cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) so you can properly manage eCommerce and eFulfilment warehouse stock to make your business more efficient and productive. This way, you can reach ever-increasing goals quickly and easily.
Contact us to discuss your requirements at your earliest convenience. You can call us on +44 (0)800 170 1161 or email email@example.com for more information.
Meeting the demands of the huge eCommerce market in the UK and worldwide
Since its inception in 1979, eCommerce has grown into a multi-billion pound industry worldwide as large corporations, retailers, and small entrepreneurs are increasingly doing more business online and expanding their catalogue. For many companies, eCommerce has outstripped their physical brick-and-mortar sales, posing new challenges for survival and growth.
According to the online research platform, Statista, the UK has the most advanced eCommerce market in the UK, with only a minority of the population as non-digital buyers.
What are the main types of eCommerce?
Traditionally, eCommerce is divided into business-to-consumer (B2C); business-to-business (B2B); consumer-to-business (C2B); and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) business, each with its own processes and procedures.
What does eCommerce warehousing mean?
Those involved in eCommerce are well aware that it involves a great deal more than simply setting up a website with a huge catalogue of goods. Successful eCommerce warehousing is the hub from where all business is conducted and as such has become an indispensable part of the supply chain and positive customer experience.
eCommerce warehousing is the process of storing and managing physical goods before they are sold from an online store. It includes the entire process of monitoring procurement or production of goods, recording when and where the products have arrived, safely and securely storing the items, tracking where inventory is located, the number of products in stock at any given time, how long items have been at the warehouse facility, forecasting sales and requirements, sales, packaging, shipment, and delivery. It also involves the management of employees and equipment, customer relations, and partnering with supply chain and logistics companies.
What is an eCommerce warehouse?
Technically, it is the physical room or space that has specifically been designed to store, secure, track, manage, pack, and despatch products sold online. Before they can afford a traditional warehouse, some eCommerce startups begin warehousing in a garage or spare bedroom until the business outgrows the capacity and they need to upscale to a large facility better equipped to handle a large volume of inventory.
Do not confuse a warehouse with a distribution centre though. Warehousing encompasses the entire range of processes, from procurement and production, through storage, shipment, and delivery.
eCommerce warehousing in its turn is all the processes involved in conducting your online business.
How Does eCommerce Warehousing Work?
Learning how and where to store your stock and manage it effectively will largely determine the success of the business.
The exact procedure will depend on the type and size of your business, but certain processes are common to all.
- Sufficient and appropriate storage space.
- Procedures and equipment to make sure inventory is safe and secure.
- Data capturing, tracking and managing each item in the total inventory of goods.
- Systems to track all equipment used in the warehouse, including movement, processing, packaging and loading of goods.
- Training and managing staff.
- Collaborating, integrating, and partnering with suppliers of goods or raw materials, as well as shipping and delivery logistics.
- Forecasting the supply and demand of products, especially seasonal sales.
- Scaling your warehouse operations timeously as demand rises.
- Proper procedures for quality assurance checks.
- Picking and packing orders for delivery, with customised customer communications and tracking facilities. In more complex businesses, multiple criteria and picking methods are required for the fulfilment of orders. Remember, there will always be exceptions and picking procedures without supervisor intervention will optimise your workflow.
- Finding ways to automate repetitive workflow processes to increase productivity and profitability.
Different storage types of eCommerce warehouses
Some online businesses will require different types of storage, and sometimes in combination. Types of storage include distribution centres; pick, pack and ship facilities, smart warehouses, cold storage, on-demand storage, and bonded stores.
Different types of warehousing facilities
No online business can exist without affordable long-term storage and warehousing facilities and as they grow the needs will change. Here are examples of different types of warehousing facilities currently used.
- Public warehouses are rented from a third party, sometimes by multiple businesses, or the entire facility may be rented by the same business.
- Private warehouses are typically owned by manufacturers, fabricators, wholesalers, or large distributors and retailers.
- Cooperative warehouses are typically owned and operated by cooperative organisations such as farmers, wineries, franchises, or businesses in the same industry.
- Government warehouses are typically used by unique industries and made available at affordable rent.
- Fulfilment centres, also known as distribution centres, receive large inventories of stock which are moved quickly and provided to retailers and resellers, rather than having to wait for stock from factories or producers. This falls under the category of 3PL providers that can fulfil orders quickly without having to hold the vast array and quantities of stock yourself.
- Smart warehouses use AI automation that goes beyond inventory management systems to handle storage, management, and fulfilment. Typically, it would be a high-tech facility with drones and robots that scan, pick, weigh, pack, and transport goods for efficiency and speed. Examples are Amazon and Alibaba, but such facilities are available for businesses that need a more efficient way to manage inventory demand.
- Bonded warehouses typically store imported goods before the company is required to pay customs duties and could be owned privately or by the customs authorities and rented by the importing company until the goods have been sold and need to be released, but it may require lengthy procedures and cause delays if you wait too long.
- Consolidated warehouses group small shipments from different suppliers for distribution in the same geographical area.
How does eCommerce warehousing work with 3PL?
3PL stands for third-party logistics, involving warehousing processes that are outsourced to a specialist, for instance in information and software, leveraging online markets, logistics, transport and shipping, and financial management.
Working with a 3PL allows you to automate and manage all of your e-commerce logistics processes through one partner, including warehousing, inventory management, order fulfilment, and more.
Assess your specific requirements for specialist solutions and select the 3PL provider and fulfilment centre that best meets your needs, either offsite or on the same premises.
What are the benefits of eCommerce warehousing systems?
At its core, WMS software systems improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and accuracy of inventory management and tracking; assist with forecasts; and prevent losses. Without it, you would still waste a lot of time and money to track everything manually and manage inventory on spreadsheets.
Here are just some of the more obvious advantages of eCommerce warehousing systems.
- Lower operating costs — Greater efficiency and visibility save on labour, rent, equipment, shipping, and other key expenses.
- Improved inventory management — Allowing you to be well-organised, with real-time data to know exactly how much inventory you have on hand and forecasting demands for new orders. Errors are minimised or eliminated and products are delivered to customers much faster.
- Enhanced management decisions – These tools consolidate lots of complex activities on a single dashboard at a single glance. Detailed reports and analytics are available anywhere on any smart device to help you make instant management decisions, particularly during your busiest seasons.
- Fast and flexible shipping — Easy and accurate product identification, picking, packing and shipment. A 3PL provider or fulfilment service can expedite the supply of goods and provide additional shipping options
- Single Item or wave picking — Modern eCommerce has changed the traditional bulk order management in warehouses, requiring single items or wave-picking of items within short intervals. This would be immensely time-consuming without an eCommerce warehousing software system.
- Scalability — A successful business will soon outgrow its garage or living room phase and successful large businesses need to constantly expand their warehousing capacity. eCommerce warehousing systems help you forecast and plan for expansions without costly interruptions or lost opportunities.
eCommerce warehouse management essentials
- Test multiple eCommerce warehousing systems and select the best system that can integrate with all your existing systems, such as ProSKU cloud / SaaS based WMS from Principal Logistics Technologies, to keep your operations running smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively
- Integrate your eCommerce warehousing with all your other tools and across 3PL providers.
For expert advice and service to match your company’s size, WMS and barcoding requirements, get in touch with ProSKU on +44 (0)800 170 1161. Alternatively, for more information you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.