Blog Posts Systems Check: Are You Prepared for Unpredictable Order Volume?

Key Takeaways

  • Leveraging technology can help fulfillment operations accommodate growth and fluctuations.
  • When designing a technology solution, anticipate your specific requirements for operational flexibility.
  • Evaluate systems, such as your warehouse management system (WMS), to ensure that they are capable of supporting your requirements.

Is scaling for growth and fluctuations a priority for your fulfillment operations this year? Advanced technologies can help – if you lay the proper groundwork when designing your solution.

In the first of a two-part series for Multichannel Merchant, Brian Mattingly, Saddle Creek’s vice president of operations, outlines some key considerations for optimal order fulfillment software.

Following is an excerpt…

Fulfillment Operations: Scaling Starts with Strong Systems

Think about future needs for your fulfillment operations that may require operational flexibility. The following list of questions is by no means exhaustive, but it should get you thinking about what might make your technology road map more effective and scalable.

  • How much does order volume spike during promotions or peak selling periods?
  • What do you anticipate in terms of growth from increased demand, product line expansion, etc.?
  • Do you want to add new sales channels, i.e., pop-ups or physical stores, subscription services, third-party marketplaces or dropship partners?
  • Will you need to add distribution centers or expand in new markets?

Even if you do not plan to make any of these changes in the short term, anticipating foundational needs like these in the design phase will help to ensure that your technology solution can accommodate them more quickly and easily when the time comes.

What you build on the front end will ultimately determine your operations’ ability to support growth and change down the road.

Once you have a solid understanding of your needs, take time to assess your systems.

Warehouse Management System

First, ensure that your in-house or partner’s WMS can handle the fundamentals within the four walls of the fulfillment center, and that the system architecture ensures data integrity and security.

Then dig deeper. Does the WMS give you real-time visibility into fulfillment operations? Does it have the ability to track on-time performance? The more your order volume grows, the more value you will find in these features.

If you foresee a need to handle special requirements, such as kitting or generating packing slips, a WMS with flexible configuration can phase in modules for these capabilities as you need them.

Can your WMS support your parcel or transportation management system (TMS) and other systems? Does it integrate directly with your material handling systems? The fewer the integration points you have, the greater your operational reliability.

If you sell via multiple sales channels, are you able to handle orders for all of them from a single WMS instance? Can your WMS wave all order types and manage them operationally?  These capabilities also come in handy if you have multiple brands or business units.

What you build on the front end will ultimately determine your operations’ ability to support growth and change down the road.

For more on how fulfillment software systems can impact the scalability of your operations, read the full article on Multichannel Merchant.


Related to: Fulfillment Technology, Managing Growth, Selling Online