Supply Chain Trends

How to run an e-commerce and retail business from one warehouse

Written by
Jonathan Porter
Dec 1, 2021
2:10 pm
minute read

E-commerce and retail are two separate business models which combine well. Though they may be different, what might they have in common?—The need for warehouse optimization and readiness. But when it comes to warehousing and logistics operations for ecom and retail, the two business models could not be more different.

Retail orders are typically characterized by being predictable, with similar (and larger) quantities and product profiles week to week. Retails orders are also often shipped out on regularly scheduled static routes, on the same days and same times each week.

Conversely, e-commerce orders are much more sporadic and unpredictable. They are almost always single unit orders, and must be shipped parcel all over the country on a continuous basis.

These differences lead to vastly different warehousing practices for the two models. Companies must have a functioning warehouse system that maximizes inventory input and output safely, effectively and efficiently. But how does that happen? With two vastly different business models, order systems and warehouse needs, how can a company adequately meet warehouse optimization needs when combining the two? 

This article will explain a few ways to access warehouse optimization for your business. 

An e-commerce model 

A merchant can conduct business on an online platform by using an eCommerce business model. This brings customers right to the source to order an available product. Warehouses ensure they have adequate inventory in stock through data tracking and constant online updating.  This means the customer is directly connected to the supply chain, resulting in little “middlemen.”

Warehouse optimization for an eCommerce business model needs to consider the communication between multiple technologies at once. Selling a product online, which may not exist due to inventory shortage, is not a great way to keep business. Keeping communication through technology is the main way of optimizing this business model. 

A retail model

A brick-and-mortar business model works quite differently than an eCommerce one. Customers can physically touch and see the product they will buy and take it home from the purchase site. 

In terms of warehouse optimization, this model relies on in-store inventory tracking as well as warehouse inventory. The communication between the two should be seamless, eliminating stocking issues for on-the-ground employees in-store. Keeping internal communication strategies strong mitigates potential seasonal stock issues as well. 

4 key standards to a dual warehouse optimization

Keeping a warehouse that acts as a storage and distribution point for both an eCommerce and retail business model can be difficult, frustrating and overwhelming. There are many different needs to be met to keep customers and workers happy and healthy. Here are a few key standards that will help optimize your dual warehouse. 

1. Communication

As noted previously, communication is at the core of a functioning warehouse. Warehouse optimization in both e-commerce and retail sectors relies on both employee communication and software communication of data. Having inventory systems in place that assist in tracking, notifying, ordering, and distributing materials is key to maximizing your warehouse potential. 

2. Strategy

Given that e-commerce and retail systems hold different order fulfillment strategies, a key to warehouse optimization in a dual warehouse is to nail down systems and strategies for both. How will products be routed when coming off skids? Will outflow products to retail locations require different distribution centers so as not to slow the inventory production of e-commerce sections? This will all need to be planned and mapped out for work optimization to mitigate any risk of lost packages, misplaced inventory, etc. 

3. Organization

One of the final keys to warehouse optimization is the organization of materials. Choosing data-tracking software that is accessible and adaptable is key to organizing an inventory and continually updating it. Given that a dual warehouse will need compatibility and communication, supporting workers with an up-to-date inventory system will allow other aspects of your supply chain to flow smoothly. 

4. Safety

To achieve warehouse optimization in two different sectors, first, we need to focus on safety. Keeping a safe warehouse not only allows for product distribution and employee happiness but also minimizes financial liability to your business. Ensuring that machinery and systems are working well and safely ensures the longevity of their lifespan, just as much as it keeps human workers safe. In terms of warehouse optimization- it is a win all around.

The dual business model, the maximized warehouse

Warehouse optimization is key when developing a business that integrates two modes of business. The major differences between e-commerce and retail warehousing operations, notably order profiles and shipment schedules, lead to many complications that can often be traced back to inadequate software. It is possible to ship both ecom and retail from the same warehouse, and can be sustained by creating a plan focusing on the four key strategies of warehouse optimization, plus having flexible software systems that can scale as demand profiles change.

Do you have an intricate and unique business model which requires multiple WMSs or ERPs? 

Perhaps you’ve just expanded into the online realm and are unsure where to start to enhance your productivity? 

PorterLogic can assist you in seamlessly integrating a warehouse management system that ensures the effective processing of your goods. If you are unsure how to move forward, click or call to set up a meeting and we can guide you through the process. 

Want the latest supply chain insights? When you subscribe to PorterLogic’s newsletter, you’ll get a bimonthly analysis and rundown of the supply chain’s latest trends and challenges in your inbox. 

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