The Biggest Problem of E-Commerce Logistics: Picking

Logistics firms combine technology, productivity tools, expertise, and employee experience to successfully manage the process of getting items to consumers. With the connection they will form with a logistics business with industry experience, e-commerce companies can acquire a competitive advantage in terms of client satisfaction. Growth in e-commerce sites, as well as customer happiness, will be witnessed as a result of the relationship with the logistics company. Even only in the United States, the e-commerce sector has quadrupled its value in the last 10 years, reaching $215 billion.

E-commerce businesses that sell a variety of products require inventory management assistance since their product networks are so large. As a result, logistics organizations will be able to carry out inventory management properly with the help of industry knowledge. With the developments in the e-commerce sector, it has become clear how important logistics operations are.

When we look at successful e-commerce websites today, the prominent features are the fast delivery feature (e.g. same-day delivery by drone), the correct delivery of the products and the wide variety of products. These three KPIs measure the success of e-commerce sites and they are all related to logistics operations. Although there are many other crucial operations in logistics processes,  4-5 of them stand out, such as goods receipt, goods acceptance, sorting and picking.  Moreover, the vast majority are the picking processes.

What might be the problems of picking in e-commerce operations?

1. Picking the Right Products

Considering how tired the employee can be, and that a shift in the e-commerce sector lasts around 8-10 hours, it is possible to misaddress such as placing the wrong label or placing the wrong product on the wrong shelf. In order to prevent these, traceability should be provided not only on the screen but also in different ways. While picking, it may not be sufficient for employees who work long shifts to provide information by only writing on the screen. At this point, it is important to appeal to the rest of their senses. Since Thread in Motion's smart gloves also provide haptic, acoustic and optical feedback, they ensure fast and error-free operations without the need to control the screen when conventional handheld terminals are used.

2. Location-Based Picking 

Although the warning systems of hand terminals are important in logistics operations in the e-commerce sector, another important feature is WMS systems. The distance of an employee from his/her location to the location where he/she will start picking should be kept as short as possible. It provides convenience for the personnel to do the picking on the nearest shelf instead of walking in vain in the warehouse.

In addition to the robotic systems used, the use of location-based systems provides optimization. Instead of the personnel choosing where to pick from, Thread in Motion smart wearable technology determines the position of the employee with WiFi thanks to the software it uses. Thus, the most suitable order list is given to the employee and the minimum rotation distance is selected, taking into account the last shelf label he has read. Route optimization should not only be in daily life but also in warehouse processes.

 

3. Dependency on Handheld Terminals

Since handheld terminals need to be carried by hand all the time, they must be left somewhere and picked up again. This situation brings risks such as forgetting somewhere or dropping. Thus, the duration of the operations got more during the shift. 

TIM products, which differ from conventional handheld terminals in terms of being easy to wear like gloves, hands-free use, and lightweight, stand out in terms of traceability, efficiency and it saves up to 50% of the time in operations.

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4. Employee Satisfaction

Since the weight of the handheld terminals is between 500 to 1000 grams, it feels heavier than it is during the day. The constant carrying of these handheld terminals negatively affects employee satisfaction. Not only the weight is a cone but also the time spent increases while using the conventional handheld terminals.

TIM’s smart wearables are both easy to wear and ergonomic since all of the TIM’s wearables weigh only 35 grams. Hands-free devices do not require pick-and-drop, which prevents waste of time and employee dissatisfaction.

5. Lean Processes

As new working models such as agile and scrum are adopted for white-collar employees, it is necessary to be open to innovations in warehouses in the changing and developing business world. In order to improve the processes in the warehouses, the process improvement teams should focus on logistics operations in the e-commerce sector. In order to do this, operations must be constantly analyzed in a lean and agile manner. More data can be obtained from the field so that a leaner and more agile methodology can be adopted which also helps to make decisions accurately.

Although the data from the past is crucial, the importance of instant data cannot be denied. Considering that the human factor is at the heart of e-commerce logistics, data collected from humans must the most accurate.

In addition to the hands-free feature of Thread in Motion’s smart wearables, they enable systems to be easily set up with its plug and play feature. Other qualifications such as hand movement interpretation and acknowledging the amount of orders picked, instant and accurate data is provided. 

Feel free to check out Thread in Motion's products here.


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