When introducing e-commerce into your DC, you’ll need to consider pick line configuration. While some instances may warrant picking web orders through a traditional retail or wholesale pick line, many factors support the need to isolate a B2C area with its own pick line.
›› In absolute terms, you fulfill more web orders than store orders, but each of these orders is much smaller; this provide the opportunity to pick multiple orders at the same time, increasing hit density.
›› Material handling equipment must provide dense picking fronts and be easy to replenish.
Some more key considerations for your material handling equipment:
1. Type of Pick Slots
Case flow racks and shelving units enable a much denser pick line, presenting order selectors with significant variety over a reduced foot print. Make sure that fast movers get the appropriate number of fronts.
2. Container Movement
A cart holding multiple totes (or boxes) or conveyors with narrow aisles are better suited to dense pick lines than pallet jacks in wide aisles.
›› Different kinds of packing stations may be required, and those stations and staging areas must be positioned to marry up with the end of the pick line and shipping dock.
3. Batch Picking
To batch or not to batch, that is the question. When picking multiple orders simultaneously, dominant approaches are “batch pick and sort” and “pick to the shipping container”.
›› The best method for your operation comes from the analysis of order profiles (size and SKU variety). In an e-commerce environment, where lines per order are low, it is advised to simulate both methods to determine which one yields better productivity, i.e. does the highly efficient batch picking approach warrant the additional labor required to sort the product?
Ultimately, the design solution is a function of trade-offs among space, equipment, labour and capital, as well as WMS capabilities. Because B2C orders are different than store or wholesale orders, they warrant their own little world – it’s a question of how to make it fit within the existing space without having a negative impact on what is already working well.
Interested in learning more? Download LIDD’s eBook How to Integrate E-Commerce Distribution into Your Existing Operations.