If you’re running a warehouse, and basic operations such as receiving orders or merch picking are still giving you trouble, it might be the right time to rethink your warehouse inventory. What may seem like a headache to you now, can quickly turn into a nightmare, as behind every late or wrong delivery, there is an unhappy customer and a loss in terms of your time and money.
To make your warehouse business fast-paced and efficient, you’ll need a well-organized and clean warehouse, making it ready to receive, prepare or ship orders promptly upon every customer’s request. This can’t be done unless you have an up-to-date inventory that can streamline your daily activities.
Here are a few tips on how to skillfully manage your warehouse inventory.
Keep it cleanTo be able to manage your inventory, your warehouse needs to be clean and decluttered. This also means implementing lean inventory practice, reducing your safety stocks and keeping only what you really need, as long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on your customers. Think about allocating several hours a month for maintaining your warehouse clutter-free, and make it easier for your employees to move around and complete their orders.
Rethink your warehouse planEven though both you and your employees may be used to your warehouse’s layout, it’s good to reconsider it every now and then, especially when there is an increase in your sales and your space requirements. The design of your warehouse should follow the merch flow, and at the same time, ensure that all operations are running quickly and smoothly. Make sure there are no crowded or congested areas and pay attention to eliminate all the traffic barriers which could interfere with and complicate basic processes.
ReorganizeThe same goes for the stock you are safekeeping. You probably have a pretty clear idea of what your top-selling merch is, so you should use that data when organizing your inventory, and place such merch on easy-to-reach locations, next to shipping areas so that they can be retrieved quickly. You can also use slotting and SKUs to group similar items and make it easier for your employees to find them when needed.
Make sure everything you have in your warehouse is properly labeled, in order to reduce picking errors. You can put your inventory control numbers on the boxes, along with a photo of the item stored. It is important to review and update labels on the shelves and the photos regularly, or at least annually after you’ve done counting your inventory. You can also create a map, showing where every category of goods is stored. If you haven’t already, it may be high time for you to consider implementing technology in your labeling system and start using scanners and barcodes to increase the accuracy. Barcoding the stored products, you will find them ore easier to track and manage, while minimizing human error.
Cycle countUse cycle-counting at the interval of your choice to increase the accuracy of your records, and be prepared for the next years physical inventory. If you don’t have enough employees to handle this task, or have too many SKUs to count, consider cycle-counting only your high-value SKUs. Use both floor-to-sheet and sheet-to-floor methods, and investigate into all the unusual counts or discrepancies, if they occur.
Use real-time informationYou can have real-time information about stock in your warehouse, and have your operations and your data flow seamlessly if you opt for a reliable warehouse management system. Combine it with up-to-date technology, such as a mobile phone and a bar code reader, and you will be able to know just how many items you have stored and have a detailed history of your stock movements.
This adds to your warehouse business transparency and efficiency, as you can use the data you can momentarily get to boost your performance and automate the crucial workflow. For example, you can implement the wave picking, which means picking several orders at once, instead of walking back and forth to fulfill every single order. Plus, the barcode scanner will make picking products easier, and eliminate any mistakes which will result in shipping wrong items. Also, you can use this data and improve on your location efficiency, and make sure your fastest-moving merch is stored at easy-to-access areas.
Consider money-saving optionsApart from wave picking your orders, think about other options which can significantly reduce the waste of your time and money. One of them is cross-docking, which can reduce time spent handling and storing of the products, and the accompanying costs. Still, not all the products and goods are suited for such a practice, so analyze this risk, as well as the risk of losing your inventory control.
Train your employees
To make the most out of your inventory organization, you will need to have skillful and trained staff, who understand the inventory system and do their best to keep it in order. Make sure they all know how to best use their equipment, and empower them to give their own initiatives on how to make the inventory more systematic.
In order to give your warehouse business a real efficiency boost, make sure you’ve organized your inventory in a clean and logical manner. With the use of technology and the right management system, your orders will flow effortlessly, and meet the increasing demands of your customers.