This article is the final installment in a three-part series dedicated to educating you about low-cost, high-impact lean solutions available for eCommerce and fulfillment. Each article focuses on a different portion of your warehouse’s process, from picking best practices to kitting and assembly, and finally packaging and shipping. If you have questions about any of the solutions mentioned in this series, contact the Geolean USA team.
Once your warehouse has mastered efficient picking, kitting, and assembly practices, you only have two pieces of the efficient eCommerce warehouse operations puzzle left: packaging and shipping.
Streamlining the packaging and shipping processes has never been more important. As customer demand and expectations continue to evolve, especially for eCommerce warehouses, there is an increased priority to ensure these operations are efficient .
4 eCommerce Packaging Solutions to Help You Package and Ship Better
In the current consumer market, eCommerce warehouses and fulfillment centers are feeling more and more pressure to get the right products to the right customers quickly, safely, and without error. You’re trying your best to get ahead of, and stay ahead of, the game — but that can be difficult when you can’t find time to brainstorm and implement new solutions that meet changing demands.
Luckily, Geolean’s lean experts are here to remind you that you do have options. Below, we’ve listed four low-cost packaging solutions that you can implement now, instantly saving you valuable time, money, and space.
01. Create Designated Areas for Incoming and Outgoing Product
Nowadays, eCommerce warehouses also have to manage product returns. And following the COVID-19 pandemic, where consumers couldn’t shop in person, your warehouse is likely seeing record high numbers of returns. So not only have consumers come to expect your A game to get their product out the door, there is now added demand to receive, inspect, repackage, and return inbound materials to inventory just as efficiently. If neglected, overhandling is likely slowing down this critical part of your operation.
If your warehouse faces this issue, try creating designated areas for each type of product: incoming and outgoing. Modular workstations make this a solution that can create the process flow you need. They can be implemented instantly, easily, and at little cost to you.
When you have dedicated workspace for incoming and outgoing orders, you can begin to error-proof your process to ensure that all products are packaged properly and sent to the right location. You’re also optimizing your fulfillment team’s utilization by reducing the time they previously spent overhandling and working through any confusion.
Bottom line? The more organized your warehouse is, the better your team is at packaging and shipping with maximum efficiency.
02. Flow Material from Already Optimized Picking, Kitting, and Assembly Stations
“Work smarter, not harder.”
You’ve probably heard that phrase before, and at Geolean, it’s what we’re all about. We find that one of the best ways to boost the efficiency of your eCommerce packaging and shipping operations is to make use of the work you’ve already done. The strategies you implemented to optimize picking, kitting, and assembly stations can (and should) all bleed into your packaging and shipping strategy.
For example, work-in-progress carts can be used to deliver ready-to-pack orders to packaging station operators. This minimizes the time, effort, and employees it takes to move product across your facility — leaving your packaging operators to focus on efficiently completing just one task at hand.
By making use of the work you’ve already done, and the resources you already have, you can minimize some of the greatest eCommerce warehouse inefficiencies instantly.
03. Implement Right-Sized Pack Stations
Another common problem many eCommerce warehouses face is poorly sized or poorly configured pack stations. Pack stations are designed to keep all operations within the operators’ “golden zone”, but when they’re not set up properly, they inefficiently use space and cause operator discomfort — ultimately resulting in slower operations.
That’s why one of the best eCommerce packaging solutions is a right-sized pack station. Pack stations, especially those constructed with tube and joint design, are easy to optimize at minimal cost to your facility.
Get creative here, and ask the team doing the work what they need to become efficient. A dedicated space for everything, and (as your mom used to say) “everything in its place”, can be a great first step. Right-size that pack station for your operators, hang the work instruction monitor, add a fan, lights, tools, and more. A better ergonomic experience for the operator alone will increase their ability to work quickly and consistently.
If your facility has already invested in modular solutions for other areas of your warehouse, creating these pack stations is easy. If you haven’t, these are low-cost solutions that can be designed for your unique packing operations and shipped to you quickly. Accommodate items like a pack-out box cart, a sealer, a light, and a computer station to ensure your operators have all the resources they need right within arm’s reach. And should your packing needs ever change, modular solutions easily reconfigure, without additional cost.
04. Streamline Your eCommerce Packaging Workflow
Building an organized packaging station is just one part of an efficient eCommerce warehouse. When you streamline your pick, pack, and ship workflow throughout your entire facility, you really start to maximize efficiency.
Think back to the FIFO process we recommended in Part 1. That’s the first step of a one-piece flow mentality that optimizes every single product’s journey through your warehouse:
- How can you carry those principles through the rest of your process, and into packaging and shipping?
- How can you work to reconfigure your eCommerce warehouse so every product is touched fewer times, requires fewer hands, and less space?
Streamlining your eCommerce warehouse’s packaging workflow starts with small, simple improvements.
Look for materials and solutions you have on hand to start optimizing right away. While it can be exciting to consider big changes like warehouse automation, you can improve eCommerce packaging efficiency just by implementing some of the solutions mentioned above, like right-sized pack stations, dedicated incoming and outgoing workstations, and even flowing existing solutions — like work-in-process carts — through into the packaging station.
Take a few minutes to really consider where your warehouse’s efficiencies exist. Then, choose simple, fast-to-implement solutions that help make small improvements now. Eventually, those small improvements add up to big efficiencies.
Let Geolean USA Support Your eCommerce Warehouse’s New Low-Cost, High-Performance Packaging & Shipping Solutions
If your eCommerce warehouse is feeling the pressure to package and ship orders faster than ever, all while dealing with material and labor shortages, you need affordable solutions that you can implement now. Let the experts at Geolean USA help you.
No matter what type of product you’re packaging and shipping, we have a solution — a fast, cost-effective, ready-to-implement solution at that. Optimize your warehouse efficiency with our eCommerce packaging solutions, so you can put an end to constantly feeling behind. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.