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Trying to streamline the shipping process

Jef@39782Jef@39782 Member
An Apprentice
Hi Everyone, I'm new to shipstation and trying to figure out how best to use all of it's features to my advantage to streamline the pick/pack/ship process. I have a business with over 3000 products and they are all fairly small and inexpensive so every order is different. Our current process is this. Packing slip is printed, then packer takes slip and walk around warehouse to pick the order. The completed order is then put on a shelf for the shipper who takes the order packs it into a box or envelope and then weighs and ships it. Most of our stuff goes into bubble envelopes and goes first class but we also do a lot of priority and UPS. The down side is that we are very seasonal so when we are busy we have a lot of seasonal employees here that aren't as familiar with shipping so they are checking prices to determine what's best. The whole thing is a time consuming process and I know there's a faster way to do all of it but I'm not sure how. A lot of my competitors are doing same day shipping but We're shipping 5-6 days behind. We are also running a Magento store if that helps at all.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jef

Comments

  • aaronlaaronl Administrator, Moderator
    A Keeper of the Keys
    Hey Jef,

    I am by no means an expert, but I do have some suggestions of features in ShipStation that might help streamline your process. It sounds like your packer/picker is taking one order or several and moving around the warehouse to grab items to fulfill. But what if two different orders had the same item that needed to ship? What if the picker isn't paying attention the first time they go to the area of the warehouse and has to make a return trip for the second item? There is room for so much human error and wasted time. But with ShipStation, the picker can select 5-10-15 orders, print a picklist, and we will group how many of a certain item or SKU that the group of orders contains. That way the picker only has to make one trip to that area of the warehouse for those items. It will tell them how many and to what orders those items belong to.

    ShipStation can also search for orders with a barcode scanner. Instead of the shipper needed to type in the order number, they could be using ShipStation's barcode scanning feature to reduce the time it takes to look for an order. What about shipping presets so they don't have to select the carrier, service, and package type for every order. At this point of the process, ShipStation has so many options that it's really hard to suggest just one without knowing a bit more about your workflow. However, I will recommend heading over to our help articles and videos and taking a look at everything ShipStation can do. You can then decide how you want your shipping workflow to go and try to fit ShipStation to match it.

    http://help.shipstation.com/

    Businesses have same day shipping because they have planned out and mapped the entire shipping process from order creation to delivery of the package. What they also do is time every aspect of their process and look for ways to reduce that time without increasing human error. What I recommend is looking into the most time-consuming action that your shippers repeat on a daily basis. Is the keying in of the weights into ShipStation? Are you using a scale? Is the picker/packer moving faster than the shipper or vice versa? Are your packers double or triple checking the boxes for the correct product when they could just be looking at a SKU on a packing slip? Are your shippers having problems searching for orders to ship or could you be using a barcode scanner on your packing slips to have ShipStation search without typing in?

    Patrick@37EC5 has a really well-done guide on streamlining the shipping process for your shipper with keypads and presets:
    http://forums.shipstation.com/discussion/473/hotkeys-and-programmable-keypads-reduce-key-errors-and-prcoessing-time#latest
    Aaron Lee
    Associate Software Engineer
    ShipStation
  • Jef@39782Jef@39782 Member
    An Apprentice
    Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for the response.
    We are currently using barcode scanners to look up orders. That is a huge time saver and prevents a lot of errors. As someone that has never tried it, the sound of picking multiple orders at once is pretty scary.
    The way we do things now is that we'll print a whole days worth of packing slips at once, between 400-600. Then the pickers will take one order at a time and go through the warehouse to pick the order. They pick by SKU and the packing slips print in the order that the products are laid out in the warehouse so that there's no back and forth. There are a lot of picking errors. I'm not sure how picking multiple orders would help. Would they get picked as one large order and then still have to be sorted out by the shipper? or would the picker be sorting them into separate orders as they pick?
    All of the options with presets for shipping are great and I have already started adding some for dimensions, weights and services. Those seem like they could be a huge help.
    I'm also having an issue with shipstation pulling in the proper weights from my scales. I have Mettler Toledo sclaes and ship pretty light stuff. If the scale says .60 Shipstation is pulling it in as 6lbs.
    Also, does anyone have any experience with shipping partial shipments, like if we have a product on backorder? We also have some products that ship separately but out of the same warehouse. Is there any way to deal with that?

    Thanks,
    Jef
  • vetinternetcovetinternetco Member
    An Apprentice
    Jef, one thing that we do that might help is to sort our items by SKU for picking all at once (multiple orders). Once you select your store then go to the upper right under "Group by" drop down. Then select SKU. It will sort all your products by SKU and the multiple items for one order will be first. Then each order for only one of that item type will show up with a master box to check and it will check all orders of the same SKU (single items but with single or multiple quantities) Then you just print those and maybe you have 2, 6 or 25 of the same thing so your pickers can go grab all those at once and drop them off at packaging/shipping. That is a HUGE feature for us so there aren't multiple trips for the same item. Hope that helps.
    Tim
  • JacobLPSJacobLPS Member
    An Apprentice
    That sounds like a good way of working. With seasonal employees there is going to be some bottle-necking.
  • Jef@39782Jef@39782 Member
    An Apprentice
    Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'm still having trouble figuring out how to pick multiple orders by sku with so many different items on an order. It seems like just creating another step where the picker is now just making piles of products that the shipper has to sort through and put the orders together.
    We sell many different products on every order. Our average order is around 30 different products. I'd love to implement a new system to make picking and shipping more efficient but I don't see how we could get away from picking individual orders.

    Thanks for the help
  • dreadheaddreadhead Member
    An Apprentice
    Since you have many different items in the majority of your orders picking by sku won't likely be a big time saver. We are in a similar boat (smaller items as well) and we've found it handy to divide totes so that multiple orders can be picked to a tote and then dropped off to be scanned and packed. We implemented groovepacker to prevent packing errors and it's been a huge win. Picking errors can occur but they never make it out the door and they are quick to fix. We were spending huge amounts of time and money fixing mis-ships and missing items before no matter what we tried. We too are seasonal so errors came with every turnover. Now accuracy is always great. Hope that helps. Cheers!
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