Order fulfillment is the process in which orders placed for a given product or set of products are delivered to a client. An order's products can come in all shapes and sizes, a fulfillment operation needs to be able to handle fulfilling all possible types of orders. Products might come from locations in a warehouse or may be created on the fly at a production facility.
One major component of fulfilling orders is the task of picking the products required to fulfill the order.
The ability of a fulfillment operation to pick the products of an order accurately and efficiently plays a big role in customer satisfaction, accurate inventory management and the profitability of a fulfillment operation. There are various techniques that can be applied that will increase the efficiency of picking orders.
One efficient method for decreasing the time to pick orders is to setup a highly accessible picking area to store a limited quantity of a product that is frequently ordered. As orders are placed for these high volume products, picking the products from a common location will decrease the time it takes to pick and fulfill these orders.
Monitoring the product levels in the high volume picking area is crucial to making sure there is always a supply of the high-volume product. Identifying when a product has reached a low inventory level and communicating the need to bring more product from a bulk warehouse location to the picking area is an essential function of maintaining a high volume picking area. The communication to the warehouse should include the required amount of product to pull from the bulk location to replenish the product level and indicate the destination pick area for the product to be delivered.
An important safeguard to ensure that inventory levels in the high volume picking area are always in constant supply is to route orders that require picking a large quantity of a given product directly to the bulk warehouse location. This will prevent the picking area’s product level from being entirely consumed by a high quantity order. In-turn, the picking operation can continue to fill orders efficiently while the high-quantity order is picked more appropriately from the bulk inventory location.
Identifying appropriate products for a high-volume pick area also has an affect on fulfillment picking efficiency. Bulky products can take up too much valuable picking space and are often best stored in bulk warehouse locations. Slower moving products are also not good candidates for a picking area as they won’t provide as much efficiency because they require less picking.
The use of a high-volume picking area can be a great tool for a fulfillment operation if proper inventory level maintenance and appropriate product selection are practiced.