Behind the scenes look at how online shopping works

PwC’s recent global survey of online shoppers has revealed that South Africans are making online purchases more frequently and through more channels.

The growth of online shopping in South Africa is so significant that Tiger Global Management invested an additional R1 billion ($100 million) in Takealot.

Takealot CEO Kim Reid said that the money will be used to capitalise the business, grow warehousing, tech, human capital, and their logistics infrastructure.

In August, Takealot announced that it had acquired 100% of designer online marketplace, Superbalist. This bolstered Takealot’s presence in the online clothing and fashion industry.

Behind the scenes at Parcelninja

Takealot’s interest in Superbalist includes the company’s smooth operations, which is partly outsourced to specialist warehouse and logistics company Parcelninja.

Parcelninja provides cloud-based warehousing and delivery for South African e-commerce businesses.

Here is a summary of the basic steps of Superbalist’s operations through Parcelninja.

Pacelninja process
Pacelninja process

What it really looks like

The Parcelninja/Superbalist infographic provides an overview of what the online shopping system looks like, but for a more comprehensive view one has to get inside the Parcelninja warehouse operations.

Here is what goes into delivering Nike shoes to a person who purchased the product from Superbalist’s website.

Nike sport shoes arrive at the warehouse

Superbalist creates a shipment via an API to notify Parcelninja about new Nike shoes arriving from their supplier at the warehouse.

Warehouse delivery
Warehouse delivery

The shoes are received at the warehouse, and the quantity and the quality is checked. This is done through an automated system in the warehouse, where the staff are using wearable devices.

Shoes are checked and scanned
Shoes are checked and scanned
Stock is checked and booked in
Stock is checked and booked in

The shoes are placed on the warehouse shelves

After the shoes are checked and weighed, they are allocated to shelves by a “receiving” staff member. This is logged in a system, and Superbalist can now add the newly received shoes to their website and start selling them.

Shoes are packed on the shelves
Shoes are packed on the shelves

A customer buys a pair of shoes

A customer uses the Superbalist website and adds the pair of shoes to their cart. When they navigate to the checkout page they are shown the delivery price through Parcelninja’s Courier LiveQuote system.

Once the customer clicks to complete their order, the order notification is sent to Parcelninja’s system. The system then assigns the order to one of Parcelninja’s picking staff, who will then start picking the products which form part of the Superbalist.com order.

Suparbalist online shop
Suparbalist online shop

The shoes are picked from the shelves

It may seem like a trivial task to pick a product from warehouse shelves, but with thousands of items, mistakes can easily slip in. To avoid this, all pickers in the Parcelninja warehouse are equipped with a mobile device and a handheld scanner.

The mobile device notifies them that there is an order which needs to be picked, and the shelf location is displayed to the picker.

Item displays on picker's device
Item displays on picker’s device

Once the picker arrives at the shelf where the product is, the picker scans the shelf to verify that they are at the correct location in the warehouse.

Warehouse picker scanning
Warehouse picker scanning

When the location is verified, a picture of the Superbalist product (shoes) appears on their mobile device so they can see what the items looks like. The picker removes the product from the shelf and scans the product to verify that it is the correct one.

Mobile device displays the item
Mobile device displays the item

If the product is correct they place the product in their picking basket. Should there be additional products in the Superbalist order the process is repeated. Once all products are picked the basket is sent down to the packing station.

Packing the order

Once the order lands at the packing station, the packer scans the picking basket which brings up the order on their packing screen. The packer is then prompted to scan and weigh each item to verify that the correct products have been picked to complete the Superbalist order. The packer is guided through this process on a touchscreen.

Automated process
Automated process

The packer then selects the appropriate Superbalist branded packaging based on the products in the order.

Packing the order
Packing the order
Parcel fully packed
Parcel fully packed

Once all the products have been packaged securely, the packer prints out a waybill for the courier company that will be delivering the order and places it on the packaging.

Waybill printed
Waybill printed
Waybill automated printing confirmation
Waybill automated printing confirmation

Courier picks up the order

Superbalist is notified that its customer’s order has been packed and placed in the dispatch area, ready for collection by the courier. The courier is also notified of the packages to deliver.

Parcels ready to be picked up
Parcels ready to be picked up

The courier picks up all the packages, and starts its delivery process. Once the order has been collected by the courier, real-time tracking notifications are sent via an API so the customer can track their order to their door.

The customer receives their Nike shoes

When the order arrives and the customer signs, Parcelninja is notified by the courier that the order has been successfully delivered. The notification is passed onto Superbalist and the process is complete.

Package delivered
Package delivered
Happy customer
Happy customer

Reporting dashboard to keep track of everything

Parcelninja’s reporting dashboard presents Superbalist all the real-time data needed to ensure that they hold an optimal amount of stock.

The analytics engine classifies products with machine-learning algorithms and includes useful insights into stock control, item age analysis, order velocity, total item value, SKU count, number of inbound items, number of outbound orders, and a whole lot more. This allows Superbalist full visibility of their stock and the fulfillment journey at all times.

Reporting dashboard
Reporting dashboard

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Behind the scenes look at how online shopping works