On the face of it, mail order and internet retail have much in common. However, the ease with which customers can make purchases online has meant that latter has had far more of an impact on the way we shop for goods than the former. While mail order businesses occupied a relatively small niche, e-commerce is now the norm with thousands of businesses dispatching products to their customers every single day.
Overheads and costs
But while online retailers benefit from having fewer overheads, there are still costs associated with this way of doing business. Chief among these are shipping related costs. Every purchase must be dispatched via post or courier and this costs money. However, it’s the same for every firm. The key is to carry out the task as efficiently as possible in order to steal an advantage.
Time is money
What takes up people’s time in a warehouse? Where time can be saved, so can money. A great deal of time is spent either packaging goods or keeping records and both processes can be accelerated with the right approach.
It is important to have the right tools at your disposal. In the case of packaging, this means appropriately sized bags and boxes which are easy to fill and seal. It might take five seconds to fill one type of packaging and 10 seconds to fill another. These are seemingly insignificant amounts of time, but extrapolate that to a full working day, week or year and an extraordinary amount of time can be saved. When people know what type of packaging to use, where to find it and how to secure it, goods will fly out of the warehouse and more will be achieved.
Record keeping is of course important, but if you take advantage of modern technology, time can be saved here too. Most courier firms offer software which will allow you to print your own dispatch labels and you can then put together a system where products are associated with their tracking codes. As soon as you have printed a label, the data is recorded automatically.
Loading the van
At the end of the working day, the packages will be collected. A great deal of time can be saved here as well. If you are loading packages onto a van or wagon individually, this will be a laborious, time-consuming task. However, if you invest in appropriate equipment, it can be completed in a jiffy.
The exact equipment you need will very much depend on what you send out each day. It may be that a simple platform truck, trolley or sack truck will be sufficient, or it might be that you need a pallet truck – perhaps even a forklift. Using equipment like this will save staff time and allow them to concentrate on other tasks.
Many online retailers have expanded rapidly and their warehouses haven’t always kept pace with overall growth, clinging to working practices which are best suited to small operations even when shipping volumes have mushroomed. It might be worth reviewing methods to see whether greater efficiency might be achieved. Sometimes seemingly minor changes within a warehouse can lead to enormous savings, particularly when shipping is one of a business’s greatest overheads.
Ian Bagshawe encouraged his manager to invest in a pallet truck from dlhonline.co.uk and his firm found this simple move saved several hours of time each day.