By Theresa Lee
Last Monday when many people went back to work after the long holiday weekend, they sat at their desks, logged into their computers, and promptly went shopping, trying to quickly cash in on amazing deals by online retailers.
Holiday purchasing represents 20% of annual retail sales: Cyber Monday, which now seems to have been extended to Cyber Week, accounts for 20% of those holiday sales. And with current demands on retailers (created by the “Amazon effect”*) to offer a quick turnaround and free shipping, it’s important that logistics run efficiently, and all systems are working perfectly.
The impact of Amazon on shipping logistics
Customers have been conditioned by Amazon. Now all retailers must compete on customer service and are benchmarked against the online retail giant. Higher customer expectations impact the back-end order fulfillment of eCommerce distribution centers (DCs) as all are struggling to keep up with the pace.
It’s estimated that Amazon now has 105 million Prime members in the United States according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC. — that’s about 82% of households. And, in 2018 Amazon shipped about five billion items to Prime members alone. Imagine the logistics of moving these five billion items from the various distribution centers to specific doorsteps across 52 states. A monumental task! Especially when customers expect fast, error-free order fulfillment all in two days!
According to a recent study from Peerless Research for Honeywell Intelligrated, the most immediate challenges for DCs are how to increase productivity in filling more orders with lower costs and fewer errors. About 58% of DC management is planning to invest in software and technology in the next 12 months.
Because of the convenience of free two-day delivery, most of us just order one or two line items (paper towels, cat food, etc.) but we order more frequently. This means most of the fulfillment DCs are working around the clock with higher order and shipping volumes, and the pressure of meeting daily shipment cut-off times.
To put this challenge into perspective, just imagine most of the online fulfillment distribution centers are about 1-1.5 million square feet (around 15 football fields). Just finding a single line item of cat food from your order in the vast inventory is a time-consuming process. And these teams must handle thousands of orders per day.
Toshiba can streamline DC operations with barcode printers
Most DCs are relying on barcode labels from receiving or restocking to packing and shipping. Toshiba offers a full portfolio of BARCODE PRINTERS ranging from rugged portables to our industrial series which facilitate the workflow. For example, portable printers are used in receiving for location labels to identify break downs, or where to put away the pallet. The portables are sturdy, lightweight and operate on batteries that enable on-the-spot label printing. This saves time as workers no longer have to travel to a central location to pick up labels.
Industrial printers, on the other hand, are often used for product identification and shipping labels. A barcode printer is typically used at the end of the shipping line to print out shipping labels that are then applied to boxes to be shipped. Toshiba offers a double-sided specialty printer that streamlines this process by printing the shipping label and packing list in one label. The industrial series can also be integrated with automated PRINT AND APPLY, or conveyor systems for high-speed automated packing and shipping.
If your logistics workflow did not pass the Cyber Monday test this year, it’s time to consider how your distribution center could run more efficiently. Contact Toshiba to learn more.
*The Amazon effect started when the online retailer began offering free shipping on orders totaling $25 or more. This program was such a hit that Amazon Prime Delivery was developed to provide unlimited, free two-day shipping for an annual subscription fee.