The COVID 19 pandemic has forced a lot of changes, including increased demands on human resources in ecommerce fulfillment centers – calling for improved workforce management. According to Amazon, orders from small-to-medium-sized businesses went up by 60% in 2020, its biggest year yet. 3P sellers now make up nearly 55% of sales on Amazon’s marketplace.
Those are a lot of orders for staff to receive, process, pack, pick, ship and deliver to customers on time. It is not farfetched to say that the success of any ecommerce fulfillment operation will come down to human resources and how well they are managed.
Here are some of the benefits improved workforce management, even after the pandemic is behind us, can deliver to your ecommerce business.
It Gives a Clear View of Your Numbers
Good workforce management requires systems to measure everything. This includes measuring the time it takes to pack and ship a particular item, how many people are needed every day, how much inventory is needed for a particular period and how many orders are returned. With these numbers, managers allocate the right number of people and minimize waste.
A thorough assessment will also give you a clearer measure of productivity and how to improve it if that is required. Are some of your team members underperforming while others are doing exceedingly well? You can combat this in a number of ways, including offering training to bring all staff up to standard.
It Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction
A direct result of having a clear view of your numbers is happier customers. You’ll avoid that fateful mistake of over promising and under-delivering. Because you know the human and time resources required, more orders go out and arrive within the time promised, and customers are happy.
A Reduction in Turnover
A high employee turnover in ecommerce fulfilment centers can be crippling, especially at peak season. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is an unbalanced schedule. Proper shift scheduling will help you distribute work evenly and reduce burnout and overwhelmed associates. A flexible schedule is doubly important in an industry where shift work is a common practice.
With a proper schedule, both managers and employees are better able to track and plan for peaks well ahead of time. Managers can also accommodate employees who can’t work at those times and incentivize those who can.
In addition to cutting down on turnover, better workforce management can earn you loyal employees who are proud to be brand ambassadors, are willing to go beyond their job tasks and will stick with you through unexpected downturns.
It Turns Your Managers into Leaders
While automation has eased some tasks in ecommerce fulfillment centers, a lot of the work is still done by hand. Workers need to be managed day to day and trained. Companies need to equip managers with skills to communicate, resolve conflict, delegate and more.
While a promotion is one of the perks for rewarding top performers, you also need to keep in mind that being good at one’s job isn’t enough to make them a good manager. New managers need support and tools including training, courses and mentorship.
A good manager can be responsible for increased productivity, increased staff engagement, reduced waste and most importantly lower turnover. After all, people are said to leave managers and not companies.
Workers Who Are Trained Deliver Results
Training is a key part of workforce management that directly affects the health of ecommerce fulfillment operations. Technology and trends are always evolving and for your workforce to deliver at its best, they have to continually be trained in areas like packaging, customer service and conflict resolution.
Organized Workplaces Make for Seamless Work
Mise en place or everything in its place doesn’t only apply in the restaurant business. Items that will be needed should be organized before the work begins. In a large ecommerce fulfillment center, work becomes more streamlined when clutter is reduced and items needed are placed in sight and in the order that they’ll be needed. In addition to reducing the fatigue of walking up and down looking for things, the incidences of packaging mistakes will likely go down. The 4s strategy is a good place to start:
- Sort: going through items and removing those not needed from that location
- Set in order: putting necessary items in order to create a smooth workflow
- Shine: cleaning and inspecting the workplace and tools on a regular basis
- Standardize: developing a work structure and making sure everyone knows it and their role
Better workforce management has a multiplier effect. It improves fulfillment operations by making work more streamlined, increases worker productivity and improves your customer satisfaction levels.
Derek Jones is VP of Enterprise Strategy, Americas for Deputy