Numerous leading firms have recently decided to automate their shipping processes. The reason is simple: they are aware of the workload that processing orders manually implies, and the positive effects of shipping a high volume of orders in a reduced amount of time.
Shipping tools — such as eCommerce shipping software — and an automated shipping system are essential for shipping automation. But what is it?
What is shipping automation?
Shipping automation is the process of streamlining the various tasks needed to fulfil and deliver orders to customers. Automatic shipments are called such because of the lack of human intervention, or the reduction of it as much as possible with machinery, software systems, and other types of technology.
Frequent obstacles and errors in the shipping process
Shipping the wrong item
One of the most frequent problems retailers face is claims and returns due to shipping the wrong item. As much as it isn’t the customer’s fault, most of these businesses don’t implement the necessary measures to avoid these mistakes, and it ends up costing them money and reputation.
With an automated shipping process, preventing these human errors is easier and guarantees a reduction to almost, if not, 0% in errors. On top of the satisfaction of customers, you’ll be eliminating all of those unnecessary returns and drastically reducing the costs related to them.
While at the beginning of your retail journey it made sense to individually pick and pack the products for each order, as your operations grow, you’ll need to optimize the picking stage to make it one of the fastest and most efficient parts of your order management process.
Otherwise, you could be spending many hours every day simply collecting items or permanently expanding your warehouse operators to cope with the demand of orders.
Running out of stock
When different departments and employees aren’t connected, it’s easy to lose track of what you have and don’t. The biggest online retailers connect their warehouses to software systems that help them monitor inventory levels, schedule the re-stocking of products and discounts, prevent bottlenecks and stockouts situations and coordinate all the warehouse activities by using past data trends.
Advantages of automated shipping
1. Faster speed for order management
By automating shipments, customers can receive their products in less time thanks to a shorter delivery time. This will align your brand with consumers’ demands, creating a more satisfying purchasing experience and directly affecting profits (positively).
Speed is crucial to customer satisfaction, and express shipments can win you many repeat customers
2. Increased business capabilities
By saving time and putting resources where it’s needed — instead of doing manual and repetitive tasks — you’ll be able to invest in those parts of the business where humans are needed. Once these repetitive tasks are eliminated, your workforce can concentrate on bringing in new customers, building customer loyalty, creating impactful marketing campaigns, and so on.
In fact, when these tasks aren’t automated, it will hold back your growth since there will be a point when processing more orders will become unprofitable and unmanageable.
3. More precision means fewer errors
With the implementation of automation, processes will become more technology-driven than manual. Precision and agility become part of everyday tasks, helping businesses achieve more in less time. In other words, it brings efficiency to the table and enables online stores to professionally manage a high volume of orders.
This prevents future bottleneck issues and stockout situations since everything will be connected and automated. When the shipping process is automated, more orders can be sent without experiencing delays or jeopardizing customer loyalty.
4. Better planning for the future
With a better connection between teams and departments, planning future actions will be easier. Implement a warehouse management system (WMS) to keep track of stock levels at all times and take these decisions based on updated information. You can discover the best-selling products, use the ‘ABC’ warehouse organization system to separate high-rotation items from articles with a smaller turnover, and get ahead of low-stock situations.
All this information helps you be more reliable for customers and investors and ensures safe growth based on adequate methods and efficiency.
5. Lower costs
Although you need to invest in shipping automation, this step allows online stores to make the most out of their current employees, brings efficiency and productivity to parts that rely on the human factor, cuts costs caused by fulfilment errors, and prevents future issues like customer compensation, claims in the customer service department, or an unexpected amount of work in the warehouse.
But how difficult is it to make automatic shipments? You can do it in a matter of minutes! Sign up
Automatic shipments in 5 steps
As important as eCommerce shipping software is, most of the shipping process takes place in a physical space. If your warehouse isn’t organised in accordance with inventory turnover, safety, dimensions, and other logical but very relevant factors, shipping tools won’t be as impactful.
There are as many ways to design a warehouse as there are businesses, but these warehouse layout designs are proven to drive efficiency!
Organise products in a smart way and your picking and packing routes will be safe, fast, and efficient. A clear and organised foundation is the first shipping tool that any eCommerce business needs to implement automatic shipments, but there’s more.
Automation or shipping rules can easily be one of the most important shipping tools for any online store that wants to eliminate unnecessary steps in their order processing.
These rules work on a logic of “if X /then Y” and help you speed up the decision-making process for situations that always result in the same consequence.
For instance, you can set up a shipping rule to determine that all orders with a destination of France are shipped with DHL, that orders over 20 kgs are sent in two boxes, or even automatically pick the cheapest shipping option for every order.
Outvio’s shipping rules allow you to build complex logics while being easy to use. It’s the perfect combo to save you time and reduce room for human error
Now, when it comes to fulfilment and shipping tools, there are many features that can come in handy for an eCommerce business looking for automated shipments.
Successful automation can be perceived in different ways. However, if what you wish is to speed up the shipping process, using picking lists is an effective way to pick the products of dozens of orders in one single trip to the warehouse.
Picking lists accelerate the process of collecting products up to 5 times by grouping products by their SKU or barcode, and even showing their location in the warehouse.
Outvio automatically generates on-screen picking lists that can also be used in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to ensure a sustainable and efficient operational flow
If you truly want to speed up your operations, printing dozens of shipping labels (or all of them) in just one click is the way to go. Get the orders ready, attach the label, and ship it!
Outvio’s bulk shipping feature prints all shipping labels in a matter of seconds
Last, but not least, you can automate the shipping process by scanning the products that go in the order. The Scan & Pack feature makes sure that you are shipping the right product, every time.
Forget about sending the wrong item ever again with the advanced fulfilment tool Scan & Pack
Go one step beyond: automate returns
Returns are one of the main challenges eCommerce businesses face daily. They can easily increase logistic costs and, as a consequence, reduce profit margins.
This is where automated returns come in. Having a portal where your customers can process their own returns autonomously, without filling out forms or contacting customer service, is an unmeasurable competitive advantage.
On the one hand, it reduces costs, but it also improves the purchasing experience for the client. That’s what we call a win-win.
Outvio helps you create an autonomous returns portal in less than 7 minutes to help you reduce the number of claims customer support receives and increase overall customer satisfaction.
Connect your online store or marketplace account to Outvio in less than 3 minutes and automate your shipping today!
Although automating your shipping process can seem like an unmanageable task, getting a panoramic view of all the processes will help you find out the obstacles your online store normally faces at this stage of the supply chain.
After this, seeing and experiencing the advantages of automatic shipments will be so clear and feasible that you’ll immediately jump to our step-by-step section to make your shipping process faster, smarter, and more efficient.