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E‐Commerce » Tips & Facts, Best Practice | 08.10.2015

Why fulfilment houses trump AS/RS systems for order fulfilment

If you're currently looking for ways to fulfil your orders to customers, you may have heard of Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS). These are computerised systems that use robotics to take on large sections of the 'pick-and-pack' order fulfilment process. But are they really as good as simply outsourcing your order fulfilment to an order fulfilment house? Sadly not. These systems might sound tempting, but the reality is that they're no match for the expertise offered by a fulfilment house.

The most obvious issue is price. AS/RS solutions use complex software and advanced hardware which tend to be prohibitively expensive. What's more, any business-owner wishing to utilise one would need to invest in their own warehouse premises in which to install it. In comparison, fulfilment houses remain the most cost-effective way to handle order fulfilment. As we've discussed before, fulfilment houses minimise the cost of the pick-and-pack process for their customers simply by providing their own staff, premises and systems.

However, price is not the only reason why AS/RS solutions don't measure up to fulfilment houses. Any system that depends on costly software and hardware is only as reliable as that software and hardware. To put it another way, it only takes one broken robotic element or one software glitch to bring an Automated Storage and Retrieval System grinding to a halt. Outsourcing to a fulfilment house simply doesn't run the same risk of failure.

Fulfilment houses generally make use of a full complement of employees. A group of human beings is far better at working around problems than an automated system, and never experiences a complete system failure due to issues with a single component. Even if a fulfilment house utilises a partially-automated system itself, it's far less likely to be brought down by faults than one you have to run yourself. After all, fulfilment houses specialise in order fulfilment and can afford to use more time and resources than other businesses to keep their pick-and-pack systems running or implement back-up systems.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems may sound deliciously futuristic and efficient. However, compared to cost-effective, human-driven fulfilment houses, they're simply not an effective way to meet your order fulfilment obligations. Sorry AS/RS solutions, but fulfilment houses are still the best solution for business owners!