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Magento Best-practice for a 100-200 Orders/day Op.

I was emailed this question about Magento best-practice by one of our pickPack/shipEasy users the other day. My reply went on a bit so I thought I'd post it up in case it helps anyone else.

First, I do enjoy optimising this kind of thing, it's where Moogento started from - optimising a physical products business.

100-200 orders a day is a size where a person off sick is a serious disruption, and also, that's a serious variation in order rate (100%) which is hard to plan for.

Pack more efficiently

Firstly, at this level, you probably have more than one picker. Maybe a picker and a packer. First pick can be a time sink - while the picker is off grabbing the first ten orders, the packer is off...checking Facebook.

Two things can help here. Picking simply, and picking in sequence. What I mean here is:

  • not zig-zagging through the warehouse
  • getting the first round done quickly so packing can start

shipEasy can help : there's an option to show '# Sku' (this shows two options, if the order is single-sku or multi-sku). This means that you can show single-sku orders first. How does this help? If you have one order with an item in Row A and an item in Row Z, then to pack that order the picker has to traverse the entire warehouse.

There's also an option to show custom product attributes in the grid, and to sort by it. You can use this to sort the pick by location. So we're now going for single-sku orders only, sorted by shelf. So your pickers are going to pick in a line (no zig-zagging) and will rapidly have a trolley full of orders for the packers.

pickNscan is really great here, no double checks needed by management, no double-orders or wrong items shipped (at any level those are profit killers, but at this level especially - I think we priced a wrong-shipped item at about $140 in loss of profit when we factored in shipping the extra items, the cost of the extra items, staff time dealing with it). Plus it really speeds up the pick - it will direct you around the warehouse in the optimal path (assuming that your shelf locations are setup in sortable order) to avoid zigzagging. The average feedback from people using pickNscan so far seems to be about a 20% saving in staff time needed to pack and ship - and zero wrong-shipped items.

stockEasy also has an option to scan incoming inventory. This can save a lot of time and mistakes, both during the stock registration, and during picking. It can also automatically email you when you go out-of-stock (or close to) in your products - saving you being out-of-stock in bestselling items.

Both pickNscan and stockEasy are so simple to use that you can train people in minutes how to use them - if you also use powerLogin then you can restrict access to only the picking or inventory-add screens. All in it means that if you get a spike, you can hire short-term people to help, and they won't be able to make a mistake. So it makes you more fluid, packing & shipping faster, keeping customers happy.

Encourage the second sale

The other important thing at this level I think is to try and maximise the followup sales. For our physical products biz we were spending around 40% on marketing, making only around $5 profit on the first sale. So if we could encourage a second sale, we'd go from $5 profit to $45 profit, or around 1000% increase. I really think that smartly packed orders help with this, as does a smart-looking packing sheet - it's often the first physical contact with a brand. On that packing sheet you can add a coupon, or promote another product, which should help increase the chance of the second sale.

Grab 5* Reviews

If you're selling on Amazon or eBay you really don't want negative reviews while you're starting out, and some customers won't realise that anything less than 5* is a 'bad mark' in the eyes of the Amazonian Overlords. What better place to add that kind of info and hint than in the Packing Sheet that everyone will study to make sure that they have been sent everything that they ordered. This works quite well with the idea of a coupon, as usually you're not going to send a coupon to Amazon buyers, so you can use the same space to show the full rack of 5* that you want your customer to give you. This is a great visual clue to them that just clicking one 5* is not enough.

What more, probably would be marketing by email, as a followup. This is becoming quite long and spread away from the original question how to optimise warehouse processes in Magento, but it's interesting so I'll carry on :)

We're about to release something we've been working on for about a year, which is an integration with Drip. It sends all customer info to Drip, including products purchased, products viewed, total customer lifetime value, a star system, and allows things like birthday emails, purchase anniversary emails, abandoned cart emails, review emails. It's pretty cool and should help to keep you customers engaged without feeling like you're pestering them - with the really segmented emails that you can send, you'll be sending very targeted emails. No more "women's specials" to guys.

Hope that helps, add in comments with how you've improved these aspects in your business.

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