The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more shoppers online than ever before. This unprecedented strain on the supply chain has strengthened the need for logistics automation. When logistics automation software is used in distribution centers, there is a great opportunity to optimize warehouse operations, automate fulfillment, and provide a better customer experience.
What is logistics automation?
Logistics automation is using technology and equipment to streamline and speed up warehouse operations and fulfillment processes to improve efficiencies.
What it’s like using an automated logistics & order processing system
The use of automated logistics systems should have a positive effect on overall efficiency and productivity of a distribution center. Leading fulfillment companies like ShipBob provide automation solutions for ecommerce brands that don’t want to manage a warehouse, purchase automated guided vehicles, and implement automation systems themselves.
“When I was gearing up to launch the business, I was looking for someone who would automate fulfillment for us. I chose ShipBob, and it turned out to be a very easy and scalable solution.
Everything was automated, from setting up my store, to sending product, to fulfilling orders.
It was pretty remarkable how a 24-year-old like me with very little money and no prior logistics experience could launch a product and have distribution be automated.”
Josh Hollings, Founder & CEO of Drop FX
1. Reliable inventory tracking
Tech-enabled 3PLs like ShipBob use inventory tracking systems to provide a transparent overview of current stock levels and tools to help automate reordering products before stock is depleted, forecasting inventory, and more.
“ShipBob owns the entire stack: inventory and order management system, warehouse management system, and their fulfillment centers.
With ShipBob, ordered inventory is automatically marked as accounted for, so it’s held until it’s shipped. Each time a bundle or order is fulfilled, we can see the individual components that are physically picked, and we know that the order went out as expected.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
2. Lower order fulfillment costs
Logistics automation software can provide data to inform you how to distribute your inventory to reduce shipping costs so you can decrease overall fulfillment costs. That way, each order is automatically routed to the distribution center nearest the customer.
“We distribute inventory across ShipBob’s fulfillment network so we can be closer to major distribution hubs, shipping carriers, and more of our customers.
Since switching to ShipBob from our previous 3PL, our fulfillment cost on comparable orders went down by 25%”
Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
3. Faster shipping times
ShipBob fulfills orders the same day that are imported by noon local time, so the carriers can pick them up and ship them out quickly. We also enable faster shipping times by analyzing optimal delivery routes and fulfilling orders from the most efficient location.
“An hour after an influencer ordered from me, he had already received an email saying his order had shipped. If I was fulfilling orders myself, it would have taken me much longer.
This was the perfect example of ShipBob working how it should, automatically sending tracking info and giving my customers everything they needed.”
Tracey Wallace, Founder of Doris Sleep
4. Improved customer experience
ShipBob offers order tracking and gives you the tools to maintain complete control and visibility into warehouse operations, even with you being outside of the four walls of the warehouse.
In other words, you can outsource fulfillment logistics while still maintaining full control, spending far less time on logistics, and getting best-in-class support.
“ShipBob’s customer service continues to improve with direct contacts that know our account, real-time follow through, and a better customer delivery experience. They are a fulfillment partner that is truly an extension of our brand.”
Manuel de la Cruz, CEO at Boie
How ShipBob automates its warehouses and optimizes logistics
ShipBob is a leading third-party logistics company or 3PL that allows ecommerce brands to outsource order fulfillment while ShipBob automates both order processing and warehouse operations, and gets more orders delivered faster.
1. Automated order processing
Automated order processing refers to the process of automatically syncing orders from a sales channel to ShipBob to be fulfilled in order to reduce manual work and human error, while automating shipping processes.
“Our fulfillment is on autopilot. ShipBob saves us so much effort, and the opportunity cost savings has been substantial. Rather than us packing boxes and going to FedEx, or paying additional fees to another third-party, having ShipBob do it all is awesome.”
Yannick Crespo, Co-Founder & President of Pot d’Huile
2. Box selection algorithm using Cubiscan
ShipBob understands inconsistent packaging can result in the inability to predict fulfillment pricing and uses a box selection algorithm in all fulfillment centers that uses dimensions and your packaging preferences to tell us which package size we should use for any order combination, so your orders will have more consistent fulfillment pricing.
“Fulfillment by ShipBob is easy to estimate because we know the true fulfillment cost. It makes it a lot easier to spend marketing dollars when we know exactly what shipping costs are going to be.”
Greg MacDonald, CEO & Founder of Bathorium
To optimize the box selection process for each order, ShipBob also uses a triple Cubiscan process to ensure accuracy when scanning items at our fulfillment centers. This means our associates are prompted to scan each item three times, and we calculate the variance between scans. If the variance is larger than 0.75 inches, an additional scan is required. This ensures that we select the best suitable packaging for the ordered product each time.
3. Automated sorting
ShipBob’s sorting machines scan every single package. We’ve connected automated carrier sort machines to our WMS and assign sort lanes and weight/dim validations for orders that go through our Cubiscan sort machine. The sorting machine reads these values when sorting shipments with quality checks to verify package dimensions and weights, and to automatically sort packages into various carrier lanes.
The benefits of automated sorting include labor savings, higher order accuracy rate, enhanced scalability, reduced shipping correction costs, and improved accuracy in the chain of custody with carriers.
Orders move smoothly with logistics automation
Warehouse automation helps make order fulfillment operations flow smoothly.
1. Step 1: Ecommerce order is placed
When your customer completes an order, it is automatically pushed to ShipBob’s fulfillment software and routed to the fulfillment center located closest to the order’s destination with available inventory.
Step 2: Warehouse picking and packing
The picker retrieves the item(s) from the pallet, shelf, or bin in which it’s located. All pickers are assigned similar orders in nearby locations of the warehouse to make the process more efficient by reducing travel in between picks and orders. Then, a packer packages the order according to the merchant’s preferences and using the box or mailer that will bring forth the lowest cost dimensional weight.
Step 3: Orders are shipped and the customer is satisfied
Carriers picks up from ShipBob daily and orders are sent out to the end consumer with the tracking information pushed to the store and then the customer, which gets updated in real-time. The order is delivered and your customer gets their products.
Ready for easier, faster, more cost-effective logistics?
At ShipBob, we built our own warehouse management system (WMS) that controls, tracks, and provides streamlined inventory management and fulfillment. We optimize logistics automation on each customer’s behalf, without them having to lift a finger or invest in a warehouse, racking, palletizing, and automation solutions.
Our algorithm selects the fulfillment center closest to the customer, to minimize transit time and shipping costs. Owning our WMS means that we can make changes to our technology based on real-time customer feedback and provide you with the best service possible.
“ShipBob pulls me out of having to deal with the physical labor side of the business. It’s an automated flow that lets me spend less time on things that aren’t making money.”
Lee Nania, Founder of SubSubmarine
Learn more about logistics automation and fulfillment through ShipBob
Partnering with a 3PL can make managing ecommerce fulfillment easier. ShipBob is a tech-enabled 3PL that uses logistics automation to make the order fulfillment process more efficient with faster deliveries.
“Compared to other warehouses we’ve worked with, ShipBob processes orders so quickly to get them out the door faster. It’s fun to see orders shipping out instantaneously. I love how fast and efficient ShipBob is.”
Harley Abrams, Operations Manager of SuperSpeed Golf, LLC
With our reliable fulfillment services, built-in logistics automation, helpful customer support team, and unmatched technology, you can focus on growing your business and leave the fulfillment process to us.
Fill out the form below to request a quote from ShipBob. A fulfillment expert will follow up to discuss pricing and how ShipBob works.
Enter your details below and we’ll be in touch to learn more about your business.
Logistics automation FAQs
We’ve rounded up the top couple questions businesses have asked about logistics automation.
1. How does logistics automation work for small businesses?
2. Does logistic automation reduce overall fulfillment costs?