Why getting orders to your customers quickly is critical in today’s markets
Convenience and fast delivery are two of the main reasons e-commerce sales are growing at such a rapid rate.
But did you know just how important fast delivery actually is?
A recent study reports that almost 8 in 10 online shoppers would switch retailers if the delivery options were not as quick, cheap and convenient as they would like. Almost two-thirds have abandoned purchases after seeing the delivery options were not up to scratch.
Two-thirds are even willing to pay extra to receive same day shipping.
So why don’t more businesses offer faster shipping of orders?
For many, it is due to simply not being able to cope with the additional strain this could put on their warehouse operations.
What are picking and parts bins?
Picking or parts bins can take a number of forms and are often referred to by a number of differing names (pick bins, stacking boxes, shelf bins, to name just a few).
Manufactured from either corrugated cardboard, Correx® or moulded plastic, they are primarily used to organise stock on shelves or in racking, helping to reduce picking times and enabling companies like yours to offer much-reduced lead times to their customers.
So whilst picking bins play a crucial role in helping to fulfil orders more efficiently, the range of other advantages that they offer are often overlooked.
The 7 widely overlooked benefits of picking bins
So besides helping your business offer much shorter lead times, what are the other reasons you should be using pick bins?
Well, these are the most commonly overlooked benefits of picking bins…
Management of stock levels
Protection from dust/moisture
Allows more holding of stock
Reduced labour costs
The rest of this article goes into further detail regarding how the benefits of using picking bins can be applied to your business and the reasons that you should either be looking to incorporate them into your warehouse and order fulfilment processes or how to maximise their effectiveness if you already do so.
Management of stock levels
A big challenge for any business is running out of stock on crucial lines.
Not only can this upset and annoy customers (particularly if you have already taken payment – only to find out the item is not in stock), it can also lead to losing sales to competitors too.
So whilst picking bins are obviously used for organising stock and allow your team of pickers to retrieve items more quickly and efficiently, a by-product of this is that it allows for much easier visual monitoring of stock levels too.
If stock is organised either by size, colour, material or other common features into differing parts bins, it makes it very simple to conduct quick checks by eye to see if particular items are running low.
And whilst you may have an online stock monitoring system, these visual checks can often be extremely useful in acting as an early warning signal, and allowing for replenishment to be managed more effectively.
This way it can help you avoid running out of popular lines, prevents you annoying your customers, and possibly losing sales to a rival.
Protection from dust / moisture
Warehouses are not always the cleanest environments – and even those that are may still have forklifts entering and exiting, be subject to dust and may see changes in temperature that can lead to condensation and minor moisture build up.
Whilst not necessarily a problem in itself, if the dust, forklift fumes or moisture are able to settle on your inventory it can at best detract from the customer experience, and at worst result in stock that is returned or not fit for sale.
As such, picking bins can play an important role in keeping your inventory clean and safe from damage. This is particularly true of Correx® or plastic versions that prevent moisture ingress, and can also be easily cleaned too.
The impact of not having to write off any stock that has become damaged in storage can often be surprisingly significant, and when coupled with helping to minimise returns (for any products that slip through checks and are sent out when they shouldn’t be) can make a difference to your bottom line.
A surprising indirect benefit of making use of picking bins is that of improved sales.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, delivery times can be a huge factor in a consumer’s decision as to where they place their business – and picking bins can help your company offer much shorter lead times.
Simply by organising your stock using parts bins, it can reduce the time it takes to retrieve the relevant products, with this time-saving in effect being transferred straight to your customers.
This ultimately means that for the huge percentage of undecided potential customers, you are effectively giving them another reason to place their orders with your business.
Similarly to improving your sales, repeat business can also be impacted by the quality – and speed – of service that you offer.
If you provide a customer with a great product, and fair price and that arrives quickly, then they are much more likely to place more orders in the future. But even if you have the first two parts in place – but customers are waiting too long for products – they are likely to look elsewhere when they next order.
Using picking bins to organise your stock and therefore enable quick picking and packing (and therefore dispatch) times, also means that your existing customers will be able to trust you with their urgent and last minute requirements, knowing that you won’t let them down.
A final way that parts bins can help here is using them can vastly reduce the incidence of picking errors. This helps you to reduce returns and further cement the relationship with the users of your products.
Reduced labour costs
A large cost involved with the fulfilment of orders can be associated labour costs.
Staff are required to process orders, work out where in the warehouse the items are, go to that location, pick the item, take it back to the packing area and either hand it over to the packing team or get it prepared for dispatch themselves.
Whilst packaging has role in how productive this process is, one of the main bottlenecks is the retrieval of the items in the first place. Effectively, your business could be paying people to hunt around for items in your warehouse.
By making this whole process more efficient and easier for your picking team, you are making them more productive. And by being able to process more orders in a shorter space of time, it not only allows your business growth potential but also reduces the average labour cost for each order picked.
This saving could be used for additional inventory, further marketing and promotion of your products, be reinvested into staff training or simply allowed to bolster profitability.
A productive workforce is one the key ingredients in being able to offer fast delivery times to your customers.
A motivated team will work hard, process more orders and effectively pick the required products more quickly.
A staff low on morale or enthusiasm will likely be slower, make more mistakes and generally care less about the service your company provides.
But did you know picking bins can help towards your picking teams’ happiness and motivation?
There is nothing more frustrating than looking for something that is near impossible to find. And with a large inventory, which may contain many products that are very similar to each other, if it is not organised well it can be demoralising for your picking team.
Picking bins effectively allow your staff to do their job more easily, helps to avoid frustrations, and allows them the opportunity to hit realistic targets. And all of this can lead back to one thing – improved picking and fulfilment times.
Allows more holding of stock
One final benefit of parts bins is that, besides organising your stock more effectively, it also allows you to hold more stock as well.
By making better use of your racking if using shelf bins, or of your warehouse floor space if using stacking pick boxes, it allows you to grow your inventory to incorporate additional products. This, in turn, increases your potential for new sales, but also cross and upselling to your existing customers too.
This does not have to be a permanent requirement either.
For example, if you move a lot of additional stock over a particular period – for example, Christmas – it is possible to get flat pack picking bins that can be used to effectively manage the peak in demand, before being stored (flat) for the rest of the year whilst not required.
These benefits can be particularly pronounced if you are using custom picking bins too.
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Take advantage of picking and parts bins
So whilst picking and parts bins are primarily used to organise your stock and improve the efficiency of your warehouse operations, they also offer a number of benefits that ultimately link back to the service that you can offer your customers.
And, as highlighted time and time again, offering quick and efficient order picking and packing – and therefore fulfilment of orders – is likely to not only win you new customers, but also help you retain and please your existing ones too.
Using parts bins to offer a better service will lead to more customers, more sales and a healthier, more profitable business.