If you’re looking for ways to grow your e-commerce business, streamlining your warehouse operations should be your top priority. Following warehouse management best practices will lower your overhead costs, boost efficiency, reduce employee injuries, and keep your customers happy. Your warehouse should run like a well-oiled machine! You need to get those orders picked, packed, and shipped as quickly as possible while minimizing order inaccuracies and shipping mistakes. Here are some warehouse operations management tips to help you do just that!
Implement the Latest Tech
If you’re not using smart technology in your warehouse, you’re missing out. Modern tech tools will help you keep up with consumer demand while improving the efficiency and accuracy of your entire warehouse management process. Automating your warehouse will also help you reduce human error, lower the risk of injury to your workers, meet narrowing delivery windows, and enable your system the flexibility to pivot with changes in consumer demand.
Don’t have the budget for automated picking tools and self-guided vehicles? You can still tap into the benefits of smart warehouse technology! If there’s one thing you spend money on, make it a solid inventory management system. Automated inventory management software like QuickBooks Advanced Inventory will streamline your entire order management process. You’ll be able to see what’s in stock, where every item is located, and what’s on order via a single user-friendly dashboard. And with the integrated QuickBooks Desktop Mobile App, your workers can use any Android device to scan barcodes and transfer data wirelessly.
Maximize Your Use of Space
Space utilization is a common warehouse management problem. Thankfully, there are several ways to boost your storage capacity without investing in an expensive expansion. For example, enVista suggests extending your storage racks vertically if this is a viable option from a structural standpoint. You could also try reducing the width of your aisles by a couple of feet, as long as your life equipment can still operate safely. Another option is to take advantage of unused overhead space in large departments like packing and shipping.
Organize Your Products Strategically
How you organize your stock will also have an impact on how smoothly your warehouse runs. Try to follow the 80/20 rule. Identify the 20% of your products that account for roughly 80% of your orders and store these items where they will be easily accessible to pickers. Don’t occupy this prime real estate with items that are only ordered occasionally. Instead, place rarely-ordered items on top shelves and deep in your warehouse.
It’s also important to store your products logically. Try to store items together that often appear on the same orders. Instead of sorting your items by alphabet or item number, keep similar items together to improve picking speed.
Keep Your Warehouse Lean
The concept of lean warehouse operations is all about eliminating waste, minimizing obstacles, and keeping clutter under control. Keeping your inventory small and reducing your need for storage space will help you save money and improve efficiency! Removing unneeded items from your warehouse will result in less time spent looking for inventory, moving materials around, and loading and unloading trucks.
Holding a minimum amount will also help you avoid issues with overstocking and enable you to quickly react to changes in the market. If you hold onto a lot of inventory, you won’t have room to store trendy, new items. Plus, your excess inventory will risk going obsolete if it sits around on your shelves for too long.
Incentivize Your Warehouse Workers
Your employees are the lifeblood of your warehouse. It can be tough to keep workers around due to common challenges like inconvenient working hours, long shifts, and competitive positions in high-density warehouse areas. If you want to maximize efficiency and keep your overhead costs under control, it’s important to find ways to attract and retain great workers.
Warehouse workers are likely to switch jobs even for a minor increase in hourly pay. While you may be hesitant to pay your workers more, high turnover is even more costly! And if you’re constantly training new employees, it’s hard to reach levels of optimal efficiency in your warehouse. Beyond paying your employees the market salary, incentivize your staff to stick around by offering productivity bonuses, paid time off, team-building trips, healthcare benefits, and access to skill-upgrading programs.
Creating a safe working environment is another way to keep your employees happy. Plus, fewer workplace injuries means saving money on worker’s compensation claims and sick pay. Follow OSHA warehouse regulations and safety rules to keep illness and injury to a minimum. For example, SafetyCulture stresses the importance of implementing a written Hazard Communication program, fire prevention plan, and emergency action plan. You should also reinforce proper ergonomics throughout the warehouse and encourage the safe handling of hazardous materials.
Measure Important KPIs
Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) is one of the most effective ways to optimize your warehouse efficiency and help your business grow. Measuring and tracking your warehouse KPIs over time will help you identify opportunities for improvement and assess the success of any changes you implement. Some important KPIs to measure include order turnaround times, packing slip accuracy, pick rate productivity, equipment utilization, and return rates. Keeping an eye on these KPIs can help you identify issues quickly so you can find solutions before they turn into insurmountable problems.
It’s also important to track how long inventory sits in your warehouse. The longer items are taking up space in your warehouse, the more money they are costing you. Keeping track of this is essential if you want to avoid selling at a loss!
How you run your warehouse will directly affect your business’s ability to expand and grow. Don’t let poor warehouse operations practices hold you back! From implementing automation technology to tracking KPIs, there are many things you could be doing to boost efficiency and save money in your warehouse as you work to scale your business.
By Vanessa Holwell