Guest Column | March 13, 2019

How Warehouse Technology Improves The Online Shopping Experience

By Angela Myers, Market America | SHOP.COM

MASHOP Warehouse 3-6-2019

In the age of e-commerce, customers expect their products to be delivered quickly and with accuracy. Staying up to date on supply chain management technology can be the gap between fulfilling orders at an average rate and delivering orders at the quick pace your customers crave. Market America | SHOP.COM has discovered how impactful certain warehouse technology can be when shipping customers their orders quickly. Chad Sullivan, Market America | SHOP.COM’s Global Distribution Manager, says the company he works for has found three specific technologies that are integral to a fast delivery system and a better online shopping experience: an ERP (or enterprise resource planning accounting system), a warehouse management system (or WMS) and a pick to light system.

“At Market America, we don’t like the ‘I’ve always done it this way’ mentality. We want to be on the cutting edge of the technology that’s going to help us improve our overall operations. The biggest challenge any warehouse management system has is people. This new technology allows us to have employees adequately trained — leading to more knowledgeable and efficient employees,” said Sullivan.

Company leadership in center of photo (from left to right): Marc Ashley, President & COO of Market America Worldwide (business suit), Brandi Quinn, Vice President of Operation for Market America| SHOP.COM and Chad Sullivan, Global Distribution Manager for Market America | SHOP.COM.

Implementing An ERP Accounting System

Market America | SHOP.COM uses an ERP or enterprise resource planning accounting system that pushes orders through to their warehouse management system. Without the proper ERP tool, supply chain management systems can be bogged down with paperwork that slows the time customers will receive their orders. A good ERP accounting system plays a huge role in getting the same-day order fulfillment rate that is expected by today’s e-commerce customers. Further, this system ensures that all orders are relayed correctly to the warehouse so customers are always getting the products they order with little room for human error.

The Importance Of A Warehouse Management System

Many people think fast shipping depends on the newest shipping technologies. While this plays a significant role, Market America | SHOP.COM also focuses a good percentage of their resources on updating warehouse processing technologies — because efficient processing is just as important as fast delivery times.

One such technology that can improve warehouse processing is an updated warehouse management system (or WMS). For Sullivan, the WMS allows his team to track every product from the moment it enters the warehouse until it is shipped out. No matter how many times product may be moved in his warehouse, the WMS keeps track of every product’s previous and current location. This, alone, has led Market America | SHOP.COM to see an increase in speed when tracking and processing every order. Sullivan stresses, however, the importance of researching warehouse management systems thoroughly to find the right system for each company’s unique needs.

Increasing Productivity And Improving Accuracy With A “Pick To Light” System

Market America | SHOP.COM Warehouse team member, Laprecious uses  the pick to light system to fill orders.

Another warehouse processing technology that can improve both productivity and accuracy is a pick to light system. Warehouse employees scan order barcodes into the pick to light system and the system controls the fulfillment of orders. A series of lights display order information, the quantity of a product to select (or pick) and where to direct an order for the next “pick.” According to Sullivan, this system has proven to increase speed and accuracy when processing orders. Further, the pick to light system has allowed Sullivan to decrease the training time of new employees. He can now train a new employee in a day and give them training on multiple systems, leading to more confident and knowledgeable employees. Additionally, this technology has increased efficiency when forecasting how much product will be needed in the future while also projecting staffing levels necessary for the coming weeks. The pick to light system does not just improve shipping times; it allows warehouses to have more control over their current and future inventory and staffing needs.

New or updated technology throughout the entirety of the supply chain management system is key to giving a better online shopping experience. Customers expect their shipments to arrive on time and with everything they have ordered. Updating these technologies to improve speed and accuracy allows e-commerce companies the ability to deliver the experience they want to every online customer. Implementing three new technologies — an ERP accounting system, a warehouse management system, and a pick to light system — can increase the supply chain efficiency, give online customers their desired shopping experience and can even lead to a stronger bottom line for online retailers.

About The AuthorAngela Myers, SHOP.COM

Angela Myers is the Public Relations and Marketing Intern at Market America | SHOP.COM. Angela is a sophomore at Elon University double majoring in Professional Writing and History. Her passions include business writing, travel and fitness.