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3 ways order fulfillment systems can give you a competitive edge

Three ways order fulfillment systems can give you a competitive edge

With consumer expectations on the rise, omnichannel distribution centers (DCs) are tasked with increasing the speed of their order fulfillment operations without compromising accuracy. Retailers are facing challenges on multiple fronts, balancing traditional in-store requirements associated with keeping product on the shelves and the multifaceted demands of e-commerce. Maintaining high order accuracy and DC workforce productivity is the difference between thriving and becoming a casualty in this highly competitive marketplace. 

There is no shortage of potential pitfalls for omnichannel retailers:

  • Fluctuations in order volume dictate a spectrum of staffing and process requirements; order fulfillment systems must be capable of flexing to meet demand.
  • Direct-to-consumer order profiles are often comprised of a high volume of individual SKUs, requiring labor-intensive "each" picking scenarios.
  • Shortened delivery timelines, reduced shipping costs and in-store fulfillment of online orders add complexity to the order fulfillment process.

With ample opportunities for order errors and productivity lapses, DC managers must have clear strategies and effective tools in place to avoid these pitfalls. Intelligrated's warehouse execution system (WES) software delivers a suite of proven capabilities to help managers take control of their fulfillment processes and gain a competitive edge, including: light-, voice-, and RF-directed picking and putting; mobile cart systems; sophisticated carton routing; AS/RS shuttle systems; material handling equipment (MHE) control via put walls and advanced labor management systems.

Through the tight integration of Intelligrated's comprehensive system hardware options and its flexible WES software, retailers can deploy the order fulfillment technology they need to achieve these critical objectives.

  • Adapt to order volume fluctuations - Many modern fulfillment systems are unable to adapt order filler resources and workflows to meet variances in order volume. When order volume is low and fewer workers are needed, Intelligrated's WES software and pick-to-light (PTL) system limit the order filler's walking distance by allowing them to efficiently pick a a batch of orders in a single path. As order volume increases, the system adapts to include more workers and ramp up productivity by enabling the sharing of work zones.
  • Manage a high volume of individual SKUs - Intelligrated's xD PTL hardware device economizes available slotting space in a flow rack by dynamically sizing the slot width to match the SKU. This allows for frequent reconfiguring of the picking station in accordance with changing SKU profiles - especially useful for adapting to smaller items. The xL PTL device coordinates front side slotting with replenishment activities on the the back side of the flow rack, giving operators light-directed put away instructions to place SKUs in the correct flow location while also determining proper slot widths.
  • Meet increasing consumer expectations - Meeting service level agreements without cutting into profit margins or negatively impacting other areas of the business requires visibility into all areas of DC operations. Intelligrated (WES) provides this visibility through its live dashboards, giving DC managers access to the actionable data needed to make informed resource adjustments. The seamless integration of WES software with all hardware controls optimum movement of orders and materials through the DC.

Intelligrated's tightly coupled WES software and system hardware options deliver the order fulfillment technology DCs need to meet service level, accuracy and productivity requirements. For more information about these options, download our latest white paper.