Most consumers and businesses do not think much about what happens between the time they click “Place Order” and their shipment arrives, often within a day or two. If they did, they would almost certainly be impressed by the complex series of events their click generates and the ability of fulfilment centres and transportation companies to transform that click into a fulfilled order.
But if you work in or manage an e-commerce distribution centre, you know how hard this seemingly simple task can be. The reality for supply chain managers is that e-commerce and multi-channel distribution have increased the complexity of distribution exponentially. What looks simple from the outside, is extremely difficult on the inside.
For example, there is the inventory challenge. E-commerce has forced retailers to expand their inventories, often straining warehouse capacity. This can also increase fulfillment times as order pickers must navigate more products to find and pull orders. Intelligent slotting strategies can reduce picking times, but these can be difficult to maintain as demand for products shifts. Organisations supporting multi-channel distribution face the additional challenge of managing inventory and transportation across channels.