E-commerce revolutionized how Americans shop. Today, we can get everything from groceries to electronic devices delivered straight to the doorstep, and we don’t even have to leave home to buy it. The millions of products available via computer, tablet or smartphone makes getting the things you need and want easier than ever.
To move these products to their intended destinations quickly, they need to be stored somewhere convenient.
As a result, e-commerce warehouses have been growing fast in numbers, which is likely to continue as omnichannel ordering starts overtaking brick-and-mortar stores as the go-to shopping method for American consumers. If you manage a warehouse that caters to the e-commerce industry, e-commerce warehouse layout can improve your scalability and growth.
What Is E-Commerce Warehouse Management?
In the supply chain, the role of an e-commerce warehouse is to provide a strategic response to supply and demand, transportation costs and value-added processing. In a world where two-day delivery is becoming standard, the warehouse is key to assure products are available and close enough to the shipping destination to meet that promise.
An e-commerce warehouse enables a company to respond to such challenges as changing consumer demand, unreliable transportation or congestion in any part of the supply chain with greater ease. And the more effectively a warehouse is managed, the better it can perform. Some key practices to include in an e-commerce warehouse management strategy are:
- Provide ongoing training and support for workers and management.
- Manage inventory and equipment.
- Implement safety techniques and processes to remain compliant.
- Build and maintain relationships with shipping carriers.
- Keep inventory secure.
- Forecast shipping volume and labor demand.
- Obtain certifications and licensing as required.
- Record daily inbound and outbound shipments.
Configuring an Efficient E-Commerce Warehouse Layout
With the success of a warehouse being reliant on delivery speed and accuracy, e-commerce warehouse layout needs to be a primary consideration when designing the space. For instance, storing the most frequently purchased items closest to the packing and shipping zone will improve overall efficiency. Additional best practices include:
- Dedicate between 15 percent and 20 percent of the total space to staging with the remaining 80 percent divided among storage and other stations.
- Choose the best shelving for your products to save space and time
- Create material flow paths and picking paths that offer the fastest and most efficient routes between stations.
- Use a labeling system, and make sure all aisles and product locations are clearly labeled.
- Employ RFID technology to manage and track inventory with the highest degree of accuracy and in real time.
- Make aisles wide enough to be safe when operating a forklift, but not so wide that storage space is wasted or time added to the picking process.
- Measure travel times in the warehouse to find areas that can be improved.
Learn how to optimize and manage your e-commerce warehouse. Try these tips from Prologis to improve the efficiency of your e-commerce enabled warehouse.
What is a warehouse management system and how does it function? Find out what a warehouse management system is and what each type of WMS does in this guide.
What are the best practices for lean warehousing? Learn how to transition into and operate a lean warehouse in this guide from Prologis.