E-commerce can benefit greatly from automation in picking, packing, and shipping. The overall cost of automation is lower in the long run, but the startup expenses have been a significant hurdle for some smaller operations and start-up companies.
Technological advancements have reduced the costs and size requirements for automating the packing process, thereby allowing smaller e-commerce businesses that were once at a disadvantage to larger suppliers to take advantage of automation. Thanks to these advances, there are multiple ways e-commerce could benefit from automated packing.
One of the major ways that automated packing could benefit e-commerce businesses is by reducing shipping costs. Given the rapid growth of e-commerce, carriers are under constant strain to meet growing demands, resulting in steep increases in the cost of shipping. The pandemic only exacerbated this effect.
Heavy or bulky packaging represents a major risk of inflated shipping costs. One of the advantages of automating the packing procedure is ensuring goods use as few packing materials as possible. This is done through the use of 3D scanning to identify the minimum box size needed. Some automated systems can even custom-cut packing material to reduce size or weight.
The needs of an e-commerce business can vary from one day to the next. Many businesses see seasonal and unexpected shifts in demand. At times, these shifts could overwhelm a company’s resources or leave some employees idle. Automated packing could improve the flexibility and resiliency of a business when it comes to the peaks and valleys of e-commerce.
Automated packing solutions are also generally much faster than packing by hand. This not only allows for a rapid adjustment in volume, but also allows a business to rely on automated systems at times when the human capital could not keep up.
While some employees might view automation as a risk to their jobs, the reality is that automating some of the most repetitive aspects of packing could reduce wear and tear on a worker’s body and free up their time to complete more meaningful tasks. Injuries can happen in numerous ways during packing. These include acute injuries from lifting a heavy object as well as repetitive stress injuries that stem from performing the same task over and over again each day.
Automation could handle repetitive or dangerous tasks. From moving heavy objects to performing the minor tasks that go into packing and sealing boxes, the right automation system could improve employee health and avoid costly workers’ compensation claims.
For most e-commerce businesses, time is of the essence. Delays could result in costly refunds or returns. Automated packing could offer a drastic reduction in the amount of time it takes to get a package out the door. This is true during both high and low demand times.
Automation is not the answer to every issue inside a warehouse. While automated tools could be useful during the packing phase, certain tasks are best handled by people.
Managing the cost of the labor force can be challenging for an e-commerce business, especially when there are seasonal demand issues at play. Enlisting flex hour workers could be a viable option for warehouse managers who need an extra hand. To connect with qualified warehouse workers looking to fill flex hour jobs, register as a HapiEmployer today.