When you’re lost in the effort to scale up in ecommerce and rake in the right profits, you often forget small things like warehouse management and efficiency. This could be a dreadful mistake because a small task like this is a lynchpin your business cannot afford to ignore. Inefficient warehousing can lead to shipping mistakes. But, warehousing with an effective plan can lead to timely dispatch, less damage, low returns and no out of stock situations.
How do you increase the efficiency of your warehouse?
#1 – Allot specific locations for your products
Assigning locations for your products will help you know where to find the items you need. This reduces time spent in putting away stock when it arrives and processing orders once received.
- Keep small items together to avoid losing them.
- Place old inventory at the front of shelves/ racks or at the top of stacks.
- Store fast moving goods at the front of your storage facility/ room.
- Store heavier and slow moving goods at the back of your storage facility/ room.
- Group similar goods together.
“Optimise labour efficiency: Analyse your material usage patterns, and store high-volume items together near the front of the warehouse to eliminate travel time. Also, the store items that are frequently sold together near one another. Basically, you will streamline operations if you try to keep the items you pick most often in the most accessible locations,” pointed Shashank Tarun, senior strategic account manager at Browntape, the Multi-channel order and inventory management firm.
#2 – Conduct quality checks (QC)
Quality checks are essential for delivery of intact and safe goods to customers. Checking up on your goods in storage can help you avoid the sale of contaminated, broken or substandard goods.
- To ensure the integrity and quality of your goods have your QC station set up before your product packaging station.
#3 – Track what comes in and goes out
To ensure you always know how many products you have in stock (even when at your marketplaces’ warehouses), it best to use an automated system to keep track. This will prevent issues like under/over stocking goods. This is especially the case when products have different demand on multiple marketplaces and the problem of returns arises. Tracking your inventory will also prevent customer dissatisfaction.
Tarun, said that, “Be tech-friendly: A strong WMS module* can improve efficiency by suggesting the best routes and methods for picking or put-away. In addition, the system provides automated pick lists that can be sent to mobile readers and devices to help eliminate mistakes and reduce wasted time and paper.”
WMS module* = warehouse management system is a software application that assists with effective warehouse and distribution management.
#4 – Review products regularly
Make it a regular practice to review your products. This review will involve the checking of sales details. Which are the products that sell quickest and slowest and when this happens (in case of season stocks)? You can accordingly determine stock quantities required and capable of fitting within your facility, based on the seasonal reviews.
Tarun mentioned, “Maintain Lean Inventory/Adopting lean inventory: stocking only what is needed, and nothing more. Possibly reduce or eliminate safety stocks, and try to get suppliers to deliver smaller quantities more frequently.”
#5 – Note peak and slack patterns
Hiring extra staff is an expense and insufficient staff is again an expense as it will impact your SLA with marketplaces if you cannot process orders in time. Identify the peak periods for your goods and make appropriate arrangements to meet the demand. Also, ensure you maintain sufficient staff when restocking goods to prevent things from lying around out of place.
- Make a calendar so you can plan your staff requirements according to the sales you will be participating in.
#6 – Store only the packaging you need
Purchasing packaging that you don’t need is a waste of money and space. So, determine the kind of packaging material you need and maintain enough to match the quantity of goods in stock. Try to cut down the size of packing material too. It will help you save valuable resources.
- Measure your products down to size to know just how much of packaging material you need. Based on this calculate the amount of packaging you will need if stocks increase or decrease.
- Purchase less packaging for the goods that are not in season.
#7 – Select a strategic warehouse location
Try to pick a location that’s easy for marketplace courier persons to reach. If that’s not possible, try to keep your stocks at warehousing facilities in appropriate locations or shops that you can team with for a certain fee.
- Hire persons to come pick up stocks too, from the stores/ shops you partner with if possible.
This is our list of warehouse efficiency tips. What pointers does yours include? Tell us through your comments below.