Automation in e-commerce doesn’t have to be expensive

Automatisierung im E-Commerce

The way to efficient E-Commerce Fulfillment

As a blog article from KNAPP explains in detail, a start in efficient e-commerce fulfilment is not as difficult as many think. (Click here for the KNAPP article)

Online shopping is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom that will continue to grow in the future. Customers now like to order a large amount of goods such as clothing, medicines, electronics and groceries on the internet. Efficient logistics processes are necessary to guarantee that the right products reach the customer within a short period of time

Well-functioning e-commerce processes are essential for customer loyalty
When creating a strategy for an e-commerce fulfilment solution, the fulfilment of customer needs usually plays a central role. Customers buy from a company with certain expectations that must be met in order to achieve lasting customer loyalty. For this reason, it is important to deal with the following questions in advance:

  • What level of automation can I implement in my company?
  • How would a service-oriented and intelligent e-commerce solution look like?

In addition, logistics experts from KNAPP and KHT give us an insight into the most important aspects of e-commerce fulfilment and share valuable tips with us on what is important for the right logistics solution.

How is the process of creating the right logistics solution for online retailers?
Customers who choose to buy from a particular online store, in most cases, do so for a specific reason. Often it is the fast delivery, the large selection of different products or the low price. This must be defined in an initial conversation with the company that wants to implement a logistics solution. For this reason, Mario Rauch, an expert in process design and software consulting at KNAPP, asks the company the following questions before starting the collaboration:

  • What are the differences in your business compared to others?
  • What are your goals now and in which direction do you want to go in the future?
  • What is most important in your corporate culture?
  • Which processes have to be integrated into the solution?
  • Do different business models have to be used?
  • What does your range look like?
  • Which future requirements does the logistics solution have to meet?

Mario Rauch explains why it is so important to define the points mentioned above in advance: “To stand out from other online vendors, every company makes a promise to their customers in their online shop. Intelligent e-commerce fulfilment helps you to fulfil this promise and gives the company a competitive advantage”.

Mario Rauch also explains that the KNAPP software consulting team accompanies customers from the first idea to the finished concept: Our goal is to translate the individuality of each customer and their business into tailor-made processes and a complete logistics solution that ultimately creates added value for them. The most mind-blowing solution is useless if it doesn’t fit the performance requirements, the budget or the growth plans.”

When is the right time for automation?
The right time for a company to take a step towards automation depends on the respective turnover figures and growth forecasts. The entry and all changes coming with it should in any case be planned step by step. Anton Tschurwald, Vice President of the Retail Business Unit at KNAPP has already accompanied many companies with their entry into e-commerce fulfilment and explains: “With our customers, we develop scenarios and expansion steps. The solution has to provide maximum efficiency at all times. The most common criteria for automating a business include growing order volumes and an increasing number of articles, but also quality and delivery speed. Orders have to be fulfilled with top quality and with ever increasing speed, so as not to disappoint the end customer with an error or a long wait,”. 

The step into automation does not have to be expensive and time-consuming
Smaller companies are often put off by the topic of automation because they assume that this always involves high investment costs. Getting started, however, doesn’t have to be expensive nor does it mean that companies have to fully-automate their entire business. At the beginning it often is enough to focus on targeted, smaller measures within a reasonable budget but with a big impact, as Mario Rauch explains: “You can start smart and small, for example, with paperless manual picking, carton closers or photo stations to document the contents of shipments. A WMS software is also an important step because with it, you can collect and analyse data, learn from it and prepare yourself for growth at the right time,”. 

The key to successful e-commerce is master data
Reliable and complete data play a central role in successful e-commerce fulfilment. In addition to data that provide information about customer and ordering behavior, correct and complete article master data is essential for intralogistics. However, it is precisely this point that often poses major challenges for many online retailers. Gerrit Schneider, KHT’s master data management expert, explains the situation as follows: One of the greatest logistics challenges in e-commerce is capacity fluctuations, meaning the peaks. Here, data plays an important role because it makes it possible to think ahead regarding purchasing behaviour and to be proactive instead of reactive. An overview of the warehouse workload is often missing and valuable space wasted. A mobile station such as our KHT MultiScan or ProfileScan records article dimensions and weight and is a simple but effective solution. It is also useful in the dispatch area for selecting the correct carton size and for saving valuable resources.”

The master data of the articles recorded with the MultiScan, ProfileScan or CartonScan is automatically transferred to the warehouse management system and is available there for further analysis. In the following video you can see the advantages of intelligent master data acquisition with the MultiScan.

In conclusion, Anton Tschurwald sums up that successful e-commerce solutions depend on various factors, depending on the customer.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The solution must be as unique as the customer. Basically, we design solutions geared towards the future that can grow with the customer’s business. At the end of the day, it’s only the actual success, supported by the automation, that matter,”.

Sources:
Vgl. KNAPP AG, Effizientes E-Commerce Fulfillment: So gelingt der Start, accessed 11.03.2021
URL: https://www.knapp.com/en/blogposts/efficient-e-commerce-fulfilment-off-to-a-great-start/