Consumer appetite for same-day and next-day Order Fulfillment can stretch a distribution center to the limit. With Order Streaming, distribution centers can adapt their processes and maximize usage of equipment they already own and become more responsive to direct-to-consumer (DTC) order demands. Some are calling it the next generation of waveless picking.
Defining Order Streaming
Order Streaming is a software capability used in high-velocity e-commerce warehouses or DCs to address complex pick sequencing issues. Order Streaming smooths out labor peaks and valleys, and reduces the time it takes between order capture and order fulfillment. It's purpose-built for e-commerce fulfillment.
How Order Streaming Works
E-commerce warehouses need to be able to handle individual orders quickly and efficiently, and often deal with VIP customers as well. Order streaming coordinates and synchronizes the work, or pick tasks, with the availability of the sorter, and enables the system adjust to changing conditions in the warehouse.
VIDEO: See how order streaming works in this short video.
This model works well for those VIP orders, for example, that represent an urgent request into the system. This ‘hot order’ concept allows items to be ‘stolen’ from an in-progress task and inserted in the high priority ‘hot order’ all the way until the item is packed for shipping. The order that the inventory was stolen from gets placed into the pool for later fulfillment.
Order Streaming is not a complete departure from the wave. Some Warehouse Control Systems (WCS) providers tout ‘waveless picking’ capabilities within a so-called Warehouse Execution System (WES), but Order Streaming leverages wave-based fulfillment’s strengths – stemming from batch efficiency – while optimizing processes for better single order throughout. Order streaming offers flexibility to prioritize the most important orders at any given time. Order streaming also can insert a priority item into a concurrent picking session. It’s a boon to shippers that lack extra space or budget to quickly react to spikes in demand.
Reacting to Consumer Expectations
Traditional retail, wholesalers and DTC DCs have requirements that have led to several approaches to fulfillment. Changing consumer expectations and shopping behaviors have pushed the industry to innovate and develop different, and oftentimes complementary, strategies that solve the challenges of today.
Order streaming is one such innovation. For DCs that need solutions to handle order variability, order streaming is a strategy that gets results.
Advantages to order streaming:
- Increased packing efficiency
- Improvement in sorter utilization
- Boosts in overall order fulfillment capacity
- Smoothing out labor peaks and valleys
- Single code base allows extreme flexibility
- Optimized for single order throughput or small batches
- Deeper allocations
- Smarter push model that balances replenishment
- Dynamic Chute Assignment rules
- Prioritizes the most important orders
- Ability to consolidate pick ups to and at execution
- Robust task priority bump up capabilities
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