E-commerce warehouses are more in demand than ever before. And, with an increasing number of orders and customers expecting their deliveries faster than ever before, warehouses must be equipped to meet customers’ expectations and demands.
So, if you’re setting up an e-commerce warehouse, it’s important you get things right from the start.
Here’s our guide to everything you need to get started in e-commerce warehousing.
Choose a type of e-commerce warehouse
When you’re getting started with e-commerce warehousing, one of the first things you’ll need to do is decide what type of warehouse you’re setting up.
The main types of e-commerce warehouses are:
- Public warehouses
- Private warehouses
- Cooperative warehouses
- Government warehouses
- Fulfilment centres
- Smart warehouses
- Bonded warehouses
- Consolidated warehouses
Consider your resources, space, budget and target audience. If you’re setting up your e-commerce warehouse for your own business, you’ll likely opt for a private warehouse.
Determine how much space you need
A key factor to consider when getting started with e-commerce warehousing is how much space you’ll need. Think about how much stock you plan on carrying at any one time and how many pallets and cartons you want to be able to store. You can allow for more stock than you have floor space, as you will be able to utilise storage and shelving systems.
It’s important to remember that you need to allow for space for warehouse operations as well as storage, so think about the space you’ll need for receiving, storing, and shipping goods, as well as returns and deadstock, and any value-added processes.
Equip your warehouse with the right equipment and technology
When you’re getting started with e-commerce warehousing, you’ll need to ensure you have the right technology and equipment. Your equipment requirements will include:
- Storage equipment
- Handling equipment
- Packing and shipping equipment
Alongside your e-commerce warehouse equipment, having the right technology will help you automate processes, improving efficiency and productivity. To identify the processes in your warehouse that can be automated, and invest in the technology you need to support that. This could include:
- Barcode scanners
- Conveyor belts
- Laser DIM scanners
Plan your layout and pick paths
Plan the layout of the warehouse to ensure that you make the most of all available space. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to prepare the pick paths through the warehouse.
First, you’ll need to determine which order picking method you’ll utilise in your warehouse (wave picking, batch picking, or zone picking). Keep in mind that the order of picking should be linear, ending at a location close to the final shipping area.
A good Warehouse Management System (WMS) automatically picks out optimised picking paths.
Set up a warehouse management system
Regardless of the size of your warehouse, an advanced, up-to-date WMS will help you optimise your warehouse processes and overcome the key challenges associated with e-commerce warehousing.
A WMS will automate key tasks, including the movement of goods in and out of the warehouse, customer requirements, and stock levels.
You should then integrate your WMS with other systems, such as accounting systems, ERP solutions, ordering systems, and shipping scheduling software.
Set warehouse guidelines
Once you have everything set up, you’ll need to establish policies and guidelines for your warehouse, including safety procedures, workflow, and quality control.
Putting these policies in place right from the start will help you effectively train your staff and ensure your e-commerce runs smoothly.