When running a business, especially one for retail or eCommerce, speed and efficiency mean everything. Whatever happens in your warehouse will have a ripple effect on the rest of your business. After all, the warehouse is where all your product and your stock is kept.
If the warehouse operations are fast, efficient, and optimized, your business can quickly respond to orders and customer issues. Your data gets updated faster, so you’re able to get the most accurate numbers at a given time. You’re able to ship out more quickly, providing more customers a better experience with your business, and thus, your business grows.
Here are a few things you need to consider.
Optimize your storage space
Online retail stores and eCommerce stores typically have a warehouse of a large variety of goods. These could be materials used for creating your products or the different products themselves. It could even be both if your warehouse functions as both a workshop and fulfillment location. And if your online business is growing, you’ll need more room for stock and a better way to find where everything is.
Instead of looking for a new place, optimize the storage area. Build upward, not outward. Look through your floor plans and see if you can create minimized aisles. You also need to organize and classify what products are in your warehouse. Start classifying the products you stock according to type, color, bundle, or other classes as you expand.
Upgrade the warehouse tech.
It’s not enough to just label the shelves and expect you or your staff to know where everything is or how much of it is in there. Use technology to your advantage in stocking, cataloging, and listing. Specially designed apps and software can keep track of your inventory and stock. Some even link to online stores, so you keep a real-time count of how much stock you have left as buyers make their purchases.
Something as simple as using a bar code system or RFID scanners improves how efficiently you and your workers locate things inside your warehouse. Some of them can even work with mobile devices, becoming even more convenient to use.
Make warehouse routes and processes more efficient
Half the movement inside the warehouse is going through the aisles, taking or setting down items and stock. Study how you or your workers go through the aisles and see if you can make the paths through the storage locations more efficient to reduce crowding and bumping.
You can use technology to make things even more efficient on this end. Since you’re building upwards to maximize space, consider getting specialized equipment to reach your stocks up high. Use your inventory technology to create guided routes around your warehouse to get to areas in the shortest time. Get more items carried up or down at once by using unmanned automated guided vehicles as your forklifts and lifters. It’s much more efficient than having groups of workers look for stock and climb up and down, carrying only what a human can.
Invest in quality equipment
The previous points mentioned automated vehicles, updated warehouse technology, and new systems. It’s all part of investing in quality equipment. You can indeed cut costs here and there, such as by buying used shelving, for example. But if you want to invest in your company’s efficiency and longevity, you need to invest in quality equipment.
What you’re really paying for is the equipment’s durability and effectiveness. Quality equipment is less likely to break and cause accidents or delays. Outstanding technology can do more things for your business, speeding up processes through automation, which is currently one of the most popular trends in warehouse efficiency. By investing in these quality tools, your company reaps all its benefits, which is essential if you plan to expand even further in your business.
Always do audits on your processes
Efficiency requires constant observation and auditing to figure out ways where you can improve. Check how the stock is getting replenished and see how much human error affects it. Look through the inventory review and ensure that the numbers match—you might find discrepancies and issues on how much stock you think you have and how much you actually have. It could create problems down the line.
Even packaging and shipments need to get audited. Is packaging done in batches? How many loads are released to couriers every week? Every month? Always take a good look at your business practices and processes and look for holes. Find ways to make things more efficient. And if there’s a way to automate something and make things simpler for your employees, look into it.