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E-Commerce Logistics

E-Commerce Logistics
Digital commerce is booming. And according to a study into e-commerce strategies for midsize retailers, it’s a trend that looks set to continue: The study predicts that in five years’ time, more than one in four euros will be generated by online sales, the exception being in the groceries sector. This means that the e-commerce logistics sector needs to be robust and ready to handle higher purchase volumes in the long term. In other words, logistics providers need to press ahead with digitalisation, since efficient and flexible warehouse management software is the backbone of successful e-commerce logistics.
“Intralogistics in digital commerce is particularly dynamic and is constantly having to adapt to changing requirements,” explains Daniel Wöhr from CIM’s press and marketing department. CIM GmbH has been a leading provider of warehouse management systems (WMS) for more than 35 years and has number of customers from the e-commerce sector. “Particularly in the e-commerce sector, everything revolves around making warehouses more flexible, efficient and faster,” continues Daniel. Modern warehouse management software plays a key role in achieving this goal since it works on various levers towards sustainable optimisation of logistics processes.

Cutting response times and delivery times

Digital warehouse and supply chain management generates enormous time-saving potential. Functions such as single-scan order picking, order analysis, two-step picking and multiple order picking all contribute to reducing transit and handling times and have a substantial impact on picking times, too. And the impact is greater in the digital sector than in conventional order picking since online retailers are usually handling large volumes of shipments containing few but similar or identical items.

Once picking is complete, the shipping process can also be accelerated using the right warehouse management or shipping software: methods such as prepacking, fast packing at the packing area or ‘pick and pack’ enable huge time savings with regard to the packing and shipping of purchase orders.

Efficient resource management to reduce logistics costs

A great deal of time is taken up in the warehouse processing articles that have been sent back by the customer. “The consistently high return rate in online retail poses a huge problem for many companies”, says Daniel Wöhr. He explains how logistics providers can deal with this challenge: software-supported quality management increases delivery reliability and delivery quality for the end customer. These are often the two parameters that determine whether the customer returns the order. Return rates can be reduced with a good quality management process in place.

Since a large proportion of returns are a result of customers’ buying behaviour, efficient returns management is crucial in reducing logistics costs. A software-supported returns process from customer to supplier organises the storage or direct reshipment of returns, arranges for any necessary quality inspections and manages the returns inventory. In addition, the software keeps track of which items are returned most often and why in order to make any necessary improvements to the process.

Reducing inventory levels and optimising resources

A WMS also allows intelligent inventory management, not only in the warehouse but along the entire supply chain. The software helps you identify surplus stock quickly and take steps to reduce it. Likewise, obsolete stock can be detected and removed from storage. Companies not only have more storage space available: they also benefit from lower capital commitment, better service levels and shorter delivery times.

As well as inventory management, resource management is also a major success factor. The software plans and distributes personnel resources and machine resources optimally throughout the warehouse. Employees have a continuous overview of which resources are available and which are currently in use. The data is displayed in a dashboard so that it can be viewed quickly and intuitively. Intelligent functions such as predictive analytics are already being used to plan resources for the future.

“Digitalisation really is the basis for optimising your intralogistics processes at every level,” Daniel Wöhr concludes. Processes become faster, more flexible and more dynamic while cost savings are generated through more targeted use of resources, inventory optimisation and a lower returns rate. This makes it a decisive factor for a company’s success, especially in the e-commerce sector.