Warehouse management 101: The benefits of consolidated picking.
June 29, 2023
If you read this blog regularly, you will have read how StoreFeeder was born out of warehousing. StoreFeeder was built by people working in a fast-moving eCommerce third-party logistics warehouse. Therefore, we are very proud of our platform's warehouse management system (WMS) because we know it works in real-world warehouse environments.
One of the features a good warehouse management system should have that eCommerce businesses find changes their efficiency immeasurably is consolidated picking. If you know, you know. For those who don’t, this blog examines various consolidated picking strategies and how they will aid efficient stock control and benefit your business.
What is consolidated picking?
Consolidated picking is a selection of fulfilment strategies commonly used in eCommerce warehouses to optimise the order-picking process. As a rule, consolidated picking combines multiple customer orders into a single pickwave or batch, allowing warehouse staff to fulfil multiple orders simultaneously and increase efficiency.
Instead of picking items for each order separately, consolidated picking involves picking items for multiple orders at once based on their proximity and similarity. A system like StoreFeeder will allow you to pick by product, courier, or into totes (more on that later).
Picking by courier, for example, enables warehouse staff to pick orders by courier pick-up times. Warehouse management systems, like StoreFeeder, can also generate optimised picking routes to guide staff through the warehouse, ensuring the most efficient path to collect all required items.
Here are some of the benefits your business will receive by utilising consolidated picking in your eCommerce warehouse environment:
By picking multiple orders simultaneously, consolidated picking reduces travel time and minimises the number of trips warehouse staff need to make to collect items. This improves productivity and enables a higher order fulfilment rate. StoreFeeder’s warehouse management system allows reverse order picking too. This means the picking teams can start at opposite ends of your warehouse, avoiding picking over and around each other.
Consolidated picking saves time by avoiding redundant movements within the warehouse. Optimised picking routes allow staff to complete picking tasks faster, leading to shorter order processing times and improved customer satisfaction. Time saved is money saved.
Consolidated picking helps reduce staff costs associated with order fulfilment by improving picking efficiency. For example StoreFeeder’s intelligent WMS was built on a premise we call the five-minute rule. This means that at busy times such as Black Friday or Christmas when warehouses employ agency and temporary staff, new team members can accurately and effectively pick orders within five minutes of receiving warehouse orientation. The streamlined process requires fewer resources and allows the warehouse to handle a higher order volume without significantly increasing staffing levels. This, again is a money saver, by enabling expensive agency staff to get to work almost immediately upon enetring the warehouse.
Consolidated picking minimises the risk of errors compared to picking individual orders separately. Since staff pick multiple orders simultaneously, they have fewer opportunities for confusion or mistakes, resulting in improved order accuracy. StoreFeeder’s warehouse management system also has an App compatible with Android and iOS operating systems. The App guides pickers to specific stock locations, provides a visual ID of picked items and enables barcode scanning. This confirms that the item is indeed the correct one.
Consolidated picking provides a scalable solution as eCommerce businesses grow and order volumes increase. It allows warehouses to handle larger quantities of orders without overwhelming the picking process or requiring extensive changes to operational procedures.
The benefits of tote picking
If you are a current StoreFeeder user, you’ll know that consolidated picking within our platform is tote picking. Here is an outline for those who currently don’t use our platform but want to understand the benefits of tote-picking.
Tote picking is a method of order fulfilment in which items are picked and placed into designated totes or bins as they are gathered from the warehouse. It involves using a picking cart or trolley with multiple compartments or shelves, each assigned to a specific order or customer.
A warehouse management system that enables tote picking offers several critical benefits to the business, particularly financially. As a finance director, entrepreneur, business owner, or warehouse manager, you'll appreciate the following advantages of implementing tote picking in your eCommerce operations:
Increased Efficiency and Productivity: Tote picking optimises order fulfilment by reducing unnecessary movement and improving picking speed. With dedicated totes for each order, your pickers can efficiently gather multiple items in a single pass through the warehouse. This approach minimises time spent going to and from pick bins and maximises productivity, allowing your team to fulfil a higher volume of orders within a shorter time frame.
Reduced labour costs: By enabling your pickers to gather multiple orders simultaneously efficiently, tote picking reduces labour requirements compared to traditional order picking methods. Fewer trips around the warehouse saves your business money.
Lastly, improved order accuracy helps the business from the ground up: Tote picking enhances order accuracy and reduces the likelihood of errors or mix-ups during the picking process. With dedicated totes for each order, items are segregated, reducing the risk of misplacing or misidentifying products. This helps minimise costly order errors, returns, and customer dissatisfaction, ultimately protecting your bottom line. Also, when sorted into totes, the packing process is sped up, and the orders are sent out with a greater degree of accuracy. Customers love it when they receive exactly what they have ordered. Let the five-star reviews roll in!
ECommerce warehouses can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction by adopting any of the outlined consolidated picking strategies. Consolidated picking requires an efficient warehouse management system like StoreFeeder, which can optimise picking routes, track inventory, control stock accurately, and streamline the order fulfilment process. You can book a free demonstration to see how the StoreFeeder WMS can give your eCommerce business an advantage.