It's important to have a shipping system that operates smoothly to expedite shipping timeframes, maintain customer satisfaction and maximize how many packages your shipping team sends out each week. However, as your business grows to process a larger number of packages, you may experience a bottleneck and face difficulties getting shipments out. Utilizing the below tips and to improve warehouse operations, you will be seamlessly shipping in no time.
You can overcome shipping system challenges and optimize your warehouse operations with these steps.
1. Identify and Assess Bottlenecks
Before taking any corrective steps, you need to first identify the source (or sources) of bottlenecks within your operations. Too often we see companies throw staff at an operation like shipping without identifying where the specific problem exists - whether that's in packing, loading or even technology. Throwing bodies at a general problem may never solve the specific cause of an issue - You may not need more shipping stations, you may really need better shipping stations, etc.
That said, sometimes a staffing shortfall may be the issue. For example, your team may only be able to process a certain number of shipments per hour, even in the best of conditions. If upcoming shipments take longer to process than usual, it's possible that your team isn't large enough to handle the increased volume.
So closely analyze if you now process more orders than you used to and consider hiring additional staff members to address the gap and keep efficiency high. Just be wary of defaulting to staffing as a solution for bottlenecks, without evaluating your systems and warehouse operations procedures fully for other opportunities for improvement.
2. Streamline Shipping Process
Evaluate your entire shipping process, from printing labels to physically pulling stock items. Could something be more efficient? For most small packages, it should take no more than three seconds to print a label and ship an item. You can shorten shipping time by organizing your warehouse efficiently so items are in a logical order.
Schedule a clean-out day for old inventory that sits too long and takes up unnecessary space. There should be a set date in your warehouse operations schedule for this to be done on a regular basis. Use automation tools to reduce the number of redundant tasks needed to ship items whenever possible. In many cases, the expense of the automation tool is worth the reduced labor costs.
3. Invest in Customized Solutions
Some of the supplies your shipping team relies on need to be prepared when a shipment goes out, such as the customer label with their address. You can buy customized company labels to stock instead of having to print your company's information every time you need it. You can also invest in customized packaging designed for the products you ship to save time and effort.
This may reduce the volume of shipping materials you need and the labor associated with assembling shipments.
4. Rely on Industry Leading Technology
Transportation management software, also known as TMS, should be an important part of any shipping department's operations. A solid transportation management system can show routing options and the price differences for shipping items with each carrier so you know the cheapest option.
Pre-manifesting shipments is also critical in highly efficient shipping operations. Once you've entered the weight of common packages you ship, you won't have to enter it again. All you'll have to do is specify where it's going and the item number. Your transportation management software system will be able to take care of almost everything else.
5. Consider a Shipping Partner
If you're responsible for a lot of your company's shipping, yet you still have other unrelated duties to worry about, it might be time to consider a shipping partner to manage your shipping process for you. Shipping departments take time and resources. If you have a lot of shipping but not enough time, it may make sense to use a shipping partner to ensure shipments go out in a timely manner.
Whether you are a multichannel shipping company or you ship for a growing e-commerce website, you'll experience shipping system bottlenecks at one time or another as you grow. But if you use these tips and implement warehouse operations best practices, you'll be able to overcome any particular shipping challenge and continue to meet customer expectations.