Every direct-to-consumer company can agree on one thing: the success of the fulfillment department contributes to the overall success of the company. The goal of a fulfillment department is to make sure that the customers receive the products they purchased in a timely manner while minimizing errors. A successful direct-to-consumer company is one that has an efficient fulfillment department with a productive team. This raises the question: how can our team better productivity?
As Director of Shipping and Receiving at Readers.com, it is my duty to ensure that our fulfillment team is being productive and executing all of our tasks at hand. Readers.com has seen enormous growth over the past couple of years and it is critical that my team is capable of working effectively as the volume of orders increases over time. If you find that your company’s fulfillment department is struggling to keep up with your company’s growth, here are some timeless tips to help sustain a productive work environment!
By sharing ideas among team members, issues can be quickly resolved. In addition to this, it can improve processes that are currently in place. Collaborating on topics such as warehouse layout, allocation of tasks, short and long term goals, etc. is a great way to continually improve efficiency and in turn make you team more productive!
Unfortunately many fulfillment teams do not always receive the recognition they deserve.. This can be combated by taking time in meetings, or at the beginning and end of the day, to appreciate individual team members for the work they have done. In addition to giving appreciations in meetings, we also use the online tool: TINYpulse, which can also be used to give team members the recognition they deserve on a more personal basis. Team members who realize that their work is incredibly impactful are often more productive.
Stay True to the Company’s Mission and Core Values
As Readers.com has grown over time, our team has had to grow as well. With this being said, our core values have remained the same and our team always has the company’s mission in mind while working. While it may seem easy for fulfillment teams to feel isolated from the rest of company, especially when working in a warehouse environment, they really aren’t. Many direct-to-consumer companies, including Readers.com, make it their mission to serve customers in a timely manner. We value our customers and through keeping in mind our values as a company, we are all on the same playing field.
Productivity is largely affected by how hard individual team members are working. Incentives are an easy way to impact the behavior of an individual. By providing positive incentives, team members will have something to work for. Here at Readers.com, we disperse gift cards to deserving team members. Depending on your team, though, other non-work related prizes may be just as effective. If team members know they will be awarded if they are more productive, the fulfillment department should see an increase in productivity from the team as a whole.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives with Timelines
Since fulfillment departments are very team oriented, it is important that all team members have the same mentality in terms of goals and objectives. If the team knows what needs to be completed and when it needs to be completed by, team members will be able to more clearly prioritize and create a timeline for their individual tasks. It also allows team members to plan ahead of time for when they are going to take breaks. When the entire team knows the goals and objectives in place, they will be able to work more efficiently.
In addition to our team meetings, we have weekly one-on-one meetings between team members and team leaders. These meetings are a great way to improve productivity. By discussing: how individual team members can improve on their job, how team leaders can put them in the best positions to be successful, better approaches to work, and how inefficient methods can be weeded out. Constant communication results in a more productive workplace.
Make Sure all Supplies are Readily Available
Like most jobs, a team member is most successful when they have all of the tools that allow them to be most productive. While supplies used within fulfillment departments may vary from company to company, it is crucial that all team members have access to supplies so that they don’t waste time looking for them. While many other departments can figure out alternative ways to complete a task if they do not have certain tools at their disposal, fulfillment departments consist of many irreplaceable supplies such as: packaging materials, order confirmation forms, label makers, and more. With this being said, productivity is directly affected by how readily available these supplies are. If supplies are not in close proximity or a team member does not have a few in particular, things can come often come to a complete stop.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, Food! It is crucial for team members to have energy throughout the day and providing snacks to team members is a great way to keep their energy up. Team members that are constantly moving around and fulfilling product orders are going to get tired as the day goes on. As they become more tired, their productivity will go down. While this is somewhat inevitable, it is important to do what you can to combat this. While coffee is great for the morning, it leads to a quick burnout which isn’t the best for fulfillment departments. Snacks such as granola bars, nuts, and fruit are great to help team members sustain energy throughout the day.
Whether or not you are an established company or a startup, there are always ways that productivity can be improved. Taking time to better your fulfillment processes can pay dividends in the long run. I hope that these tips are helpful and can be implemented within your fulfillment department or help to improve your current practices!
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