Matching Amazon’s Two-Day Shipping Window Starts With Supply Chain

Optimizing your pick and pack process can increase productivity by 40%

Amazon changed the rules of the game for everyone. With the launch of Amazon Prime in 2005, so began the movement of customer expectations toward shipping that is both free and fast. And with more than 80 million Prime customers driving those expectations forward, there are no signs of this trend slowing down. Quite simply, to compete in today’s environment retailers and manufacturers alike have to provide expedited shipping options at a reasonable (or zero) cost to consumers. That said, two-day shipping isn’t just about a third-party carrier. As anyone who has received a shipping confirmation within hours of an Amazon order already knows, meeting a quick shipping window means picking an order and having it out the door very quickly. It’s in the pre-ship phase where a best-in-class supply chain is critical.

So how do you streamline your supply chain to meet quick transition times? For many retailers, one order with three or four line items could mean merchandise that has to be picked from all corners of the warehouse. With or without conveyors, multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of orders in a given day, and completing a single wave could be quite time-intensive. Our company, VCO Systems, provides cost-effective light solution sortation systems with an immediate ROI.

Pick To Light

First, multi-line item orders are waved and batch-picked into totes. With pick to light systems, users perform their picking routines by scanning the tote and zone/aisle that will turn on a light & display quantity to be picked at each shelf. Users can manually change the quantity if needed directly on the system. Our pick solution reduces the number of scans of a traditional picking process, and increases accuracy up to 99.9%.

Put To Light \ PutWall

In this phase, totes will then be brought to a putwall area. In many traditional systems each tote may represent a single order, but we allow you to combine multiple orders into one, maximizing efficiency. Multiple users can then perform their put duties by scanning each SKU from an order, and complete the task. From there, a label with both carton and location number is printed out automatically when an order has been completed, readying it for entry into an auto-bagger lane. In the final step, an auto-bagger integrated with our solution bags the items for handoff to the third-party carrier. With our mobile putwall solution, we allow our clients to bring the putwall where the merchandise is, saving valuable time.

All of the above can be completed in a matter of hours for even a significant number of orders. Clients have utilized our systems to process as many as 50,000 orders in a day during peak holiday season, with a 40% increase in productivity. When two-day delivery is the expectation, missing cutoff times for third-party shipping isn’t acceptable, and translates to increased costs for the retailer, higher call center volumes, and lower customer satisfaction scores. In today’s omnichannel environment, consumer expectations will only grow further over time, and Amazon continues to invest in logistics and supply chain infrastructure at a breakneck pace. While most other retailers cannot afford to keep up with that kind of monetary investment, they can and must be smarter about their supply chain performance.