Edward Hutchison, managing director of BITO Storage Systems, is urging one-stop-shop Suppliers to integrate the packaging zone, as it is one of the vital components of a fulfilment solution. Once an order enters the packaging zone this will be its last touch-point before it arrives in the customer’s hands.
E-tailers can reduce losses and reseal charges, which in turn will have a positive impact on consumer costs, by ensuring high quality when it comes to packaging. Further cost reductions can be achieved by the clear addressing of items for delivery and using address validation software resulting in the carrier having a complete and exact address.
Packers in many fulfilment centres are becoming highly valued, skilled personnel, having gained expertise in packing anything, depending on the e-tailers stock range, from a board game to a clothes horse, from china to glass. They have to decide the most appropriate packaging for each of these diverse items, ensuring that it has sufficient protection during transit without being wasteful or creating too much weight that might increase courier costs. They also have to think about packing attractively because at the end of the day, e-tail is very much about the customer experience of opening the parcel – the package should also uphold the e-tailers brand image for quality.
Given that packers are the last people to touch a product before it goes to the customer, they work at the sharp end of increasingly shorter order lead times and busier peak throughputs, such as Christmas and Black Friday. This is where experience particularly, counts to get the packaging just right despite large volumes and the pressure of time constraints.
BITO has fitted out many packaging zones as part of e-tail storage and order picking solutions, including Next and George.com. These zones might typically include galvanised shelving providing pigeon holes to place items in plastic totes for building a customer order. These shelves can surround packing tables equipped with waste bins, pull-out drawers, a computer shelf and a monitor stand – everything that is needed to pack efficiently.