Under pressure from leading e-tailer Amazon, Walmart is searching for a faster way to deliver online orders. The retail giant recently began testing drones to speed up its warehousing and distribution processes.

“Walmart is testing its new technology for the next six to nine months as part of its Emerging Sciences and Technology group, which focuses on drones, virtual reality and other technologies to see how they might help improve its supply chain...By speeding up warehouse operations, drones could help address the logistical challenges of managing inventory in so many places.”

Walmart Looks to Drones to Speed Distribution, New York Times

You do not have to be a Walmart to experience intense pressure in warehouse order fulfillment. Whatever the size of your business or marketplace, competitors try to undercut prices and consumers demand more, now, error-free, every time. Exceptional service is a matter of survival.

In the warehouse, this means improving your Pick, Pack, and Ship processes. While drones may not yet be in your sights, a cost-effective Cloud-based Warehouse Management System is a major step to reducing your order cycle time.

What is Pick, Pack, and Ship?

Pick, Pack, and Ship are supply chain terms used to describe the processes that take place in a warehouse to fulfill an order, from order placement to picking and packing in the distribution center, to shipping and delivery.

  • Picking: Picking is the process of gathering items within a warehouse to fulfill an order. Orders may be picked as pick-to-pack directly into a carton (ideal for single-line or single-zone orders), pick-to-tote (perfect for pick-and-pass), or pick-to-stage in which multi-zone orders are brought forward and combined for shipment.
  • Packing: Packing is the process of preparing picked items for shipping. Whether in a pick-to-pack operation in which items are picked and packed directly into a shipping container requiring no separate pack out, or pick-to-tote wherein items are picked into one container and then packed into another.
  • Shipping: Shipping is the process of distributing all items within an order to the recipient. A shipment can take many forms including pallets, boxes, individual items or custom shipping containers. Shipping may also include Transportation Management to optimize loads and decrease costs.

Why are the Pick, Pack and Ship Processes So Important?

Revenue. When your attention is focused on outbound processes, your company is making money. The number one variable in your Pick, Pack, and Ship services is the speed and accuracy of your order fulfillment. Compressing outbound order cycle times is the key to new business, customer satisfaction, and retention.

Your ability to deliver orders with utmost accuracy despite ever-increasing requirements from clients and partners (e.g., Amazon, Walmart, etc.) can have a direct impact on revenue with shipping fines, returns, and mis-shipments.

Fast and accurate customer order fulfillment is much more complex today due to unique warehouse processes, such as per-client Pick, Pack, Ship and labeling requirements common in Third Party Logistics (3PL/4PL), or expectations for Kitting & Assembly, and Cartonization.

How to Improve Pick, Pack, and Ship

With a Cloud Warehouse Management System, your associates can pick the right products faster, package orders more efficiently, and save as much money as possible on shipping. Here are a few specific ways you can speed up Pick, Pack, and Ship with a Cloud WMS:

  • A Cloud WMS provides continuous real-time visibility to orders and work in process on the warehouse floor, online, on-demand. Some even provide more visual monitoring with dashboard graphs.
  • A Cloud WMS provides real-time validation, continuously updating and verifying inventory levels for near perfect accuracy, and can trigger replenishments even as order fulfillment takes place to ensure enough product is kept in primary or forward picking locations to avoid stock-outs.
  • A Cloud WMS supports ease of integration with cloud API technology, optionally sharing its irrefutable data with a Host system, like an ERP, to keep inventory counts in sync and ensure Customer Service is not making commitments when merchandise is not currently in stock.
  • A Cloud WMS supports a self-service ordering model, enabling customers to place orders online themselves, enabling you to reduce customer service representatives, while also sending orders to the floor faster, and eliminating staff order entry errors.
  • A Cloud WMS supports the latest in Picking technologies, such as Voice Picking, ring scanners or even picking robots, to increase picking accuracy with real-time validation and decrease picking time with automation.
  • A Cloud WMS supports advanced features like demand planning in order fulfillment to pre-allocate inventory to orders, and kitting assembly to combine many items and ship as a single finished product.
  • A Cloud WMS works with iOS and Android smartphones, allowing your staff to do more than just scan items as they can manage inbound and outbound orders through text alerts and email notifications and document damaged inventory by snapping pictures with the camera.
  • A Cloud WMS supports real-time and scheduled web or email alerts to provide instant notifications to not only warehouse management but also your customers when orders ship, or when there are delays.
  • A Cloud WMS provides business rules-driven warehousing and distribution, managing end-to-end order fulfillment seamlessly with configurable options to direct Pick, Pack, and Ship processes. Some even enable different business rules on a per-client basis.
  • A Cloud WMS enables high volume order fulfillment with greater technology bandwidth and redundancy for maximum security, near perfect accuracy, real-time visibility, and unquestionable auditing, even when processing 100,000+ orders a day.

Deliver Faster with irms|360 Enterprise

irms|360 is a Tier-1 Cloud Warehouse Management System that provides real-time validation and verification that products are being picked in the right quantities and are being shipped to the right locations at the exact specifications required.

With 99.999% inventory accuracy at the bin location, you can ship orders faster than ever. Less time spent quickly and accurately moving product out the door, with fewer returns, means more money is coming in.