How volume packing benches cope with the surge of online clothing orders

Many high street clothing retailers are expanding their online businesses in order to survive, and need well-designed packing benches to do this.

High street woes

According to a report this month by the BBC, an average of 16 retailers close their high street stores every day. In the first six months of 2019, 1,234 shops closed on Britain’s 500 top high streets.

Takeaways and gyms have opened stores, but it is difficult for clothing retailers to remain profitable. Debenhams and New Look have announced many closures.

Nonetheless, high street brands that have survived include Jules, Crew Clothing and Phase Eight. One of the keys to maintaining their profitability has been the expansion of the online sections of their business.

Converting a warehouse to handle online orders

A standard warehouse that delivers orders to retail shops is used to orders that have many items. Online orders can be for a single or just a few. Online customers demand quick delivery times and this requires lots of volume packing benches where several workers can pack orders ready for dispatch.

Speed

A crucial aspect of online order logistics is speed. Surveys have found that over half of online shoppers say that quick delivery influences their decision to continue buying from an ecommerce company, with over a third saying that they would not shop again after experiencing a slow delivery period. Many customers cancel orders due to slow delivery speeds.

Inventory

Obviously, to fulfil online orders, you need inventory, which has to be stored somewhere. This is usually in the warehouse, but some retailers like Phase Eight stock some items in their retail stores, and these are dispatched to the customer by the store.

Generally, though, it’s impractical for stores to handle a high volume of online orders. There is no space in the average store to house packing benches and a large number of garment rails. If an item is out of stock in the warehouse, but a store has it, then rather than cancel the order, the store can pack and send the item to the customer from their stock.

Picking orders

When an order is received a worker needs to find the item in the warehouse then take it to the packing station. This needs to happen as quickly as possible. Warehouse management software can plan picking routes so multiple orders can be picked by an operator without having to walk unnecessary distances. Clothing can have radio tags that send out signals to guide operators to their exact location.

A variety of picking trolley types are available to safely move goods to the packing stations.

Packing

An efficient packing station evolves around the volume packing benches. These need to be equipped with shelving so that operators can easily access packing materials and equipment. Most warehouse order processing systems use computers or tablets. The packing station needs a stand for a tablet or computer keyboard and monitor for staff to enter the progress of their orders.

Sometimes, items arrive to fulfil only part of an order, or a wrong item arrives at the packing station. Space needs to be available for the temporary storage of these items. This could be a bottom shelf of the packing bench or a separate area may be required.

Returns

Online clothing retailers experience a high return rate, which can be around 30%. There are a number of reasons for this high figure. Sometimes customers order the same garment in different colours or sizes and send back the one that does not fit or suit them. Sometimes, an item can be damaged in transit.

No matter how well a garment is photographed, when it arrives, some people might think it looks different to on the website. Colours are tricky to judge as computers, phone and tablet screens display them differently. The colour seen on the screen will rarely be an exact match to the colour they receive.

Naturally, these makes the returns processing section of online clothing retail a very busy one. To address this, returns processing stations can have volume packing benches that work in the opposite way to packing stations. Goods are unpacked on the packing benches then inspected to see if they can be put on sale again or disposed of.

Restocked items can be tagged with a system that helps workers know the location where the garments need to be stored, ready to be picked and dispatched again.

The design of the volume packing benches

An ecommerce warehouse is a mixture of traditional and digital technology. Volume packing benches are simple equipment consisting of a table-like section with shelves mounted at the back of it to store tools and packing materials. Shelving can be wall-mounted, free standing or integrated into the packing bench. To withstand a high volume of daily orders, the packing bench needs to be made from strong tubular steel with a heavy duty wood or synthetic material top.

Packing bench manufactures based in the UK are able to provide custom size packing benches to fit the exact space where they are located. They will also be able to modify the designs of the bench to suit the requirements of the business.

The bench manufacturer will also make picking trolleys, warehouse racks, and other warehouse equipment. If all the equipment is from the same manufacturers, there may be volume discounts available.

International

It used to be the case that if a clothing retailer wanted to trade overseas, it had to open stores in different countries. Online orders can be sent worldwide from a UK warehouse and this opens up the business to international markets at little extra cost. The only constraint is having enough storage space and volume packing benches to cope with a surge in overseas orders. This is an issue that most clothing retailers welcome as they want to change and adapt to a market where their customers no longer have to visit a retail store or live in the UK.

Volume packing bench manufacturers have plenty of capacity to fulfil orders for more packing benches.

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Posted by Mark
24th September 2019
Packing

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