As a retailer, it can be exciting to walk into an energetic warehouse, full of employee activity and constantly moving inventory. Shipments from suppliers are rolling in and customer orders are rolling out. You’re feeling great about this company you’ve built, but when you close out for the day, your warehouse and office look like something out of a war movie.
Purchase orders are scattered on your desk, cardboard boxes are piling up in a neglected corner along with other “to-be-recycled” items, and unlabeled boxes are still sitting at the back door. You’re left with another midnight rush to organize everything. No big deal. Who needs sleep!?
Put an end to that war zone and create streamlined harmony in the warehouse. You have a company to run, and the last thing you need to be doing is playing cleanup. This added stress is taxing to your mental energy, which directly affects the growth of your business.
To curb a sloppy warehouse, here are seven tips that will optimize your operations and productivity productive.
Neglecting incoming shipments is easy to do when you have an entire list of tasks to complete and very little time in which to complete them. An “I’ll get to that later” mentality will only leave you with unpackaged products and missed sales opportunities. Put an end to the procrastination and take the time to breakdown the boxes, place them in the recycling bin, unwrap your products and stock them accordingly. This process should be implemented across all team members. If your shipments come in around the same time each day/week, then schedule time on the calendar for cleanup and organization.
If you don’t have time to stock items on your shelves, create more manageable stocking tasks that helps move things forward. Line up all the shipment boxes, open each one and see what is included. From there, make a mini stocking pile in each box. Knowing where they will eventually be housed, put close-proximity items together, so that you can then move them to the correct spot on your warehouse floor and stock them quickly later.
If you’re managing a warehouse, then you know that optimizing your picking process is key to developing a more efficient system. Think about how many times you make a warehouse run for the most popular products. Keep your best selling products near the outgoing shipping area to avoid a scavenger hunt that leads to a major slowdown in fulfillment. Keep them clearly labeled. Get them out quickly.
If you’re constantly shipping certain items together, wouldn’t it make sense to place them together in your warehouse? Every business is different, but if you analyze your order data and have statistical support showing that Product A is most often ordered with Product B, then you can decrease picking time by placing these products more closely together.
Although it may seem obvious, warehouses that are left messy and unkempt create hazardous workplaces as well as physical barriers to productivity. Constantly monitor the warehouse workspace and keep things out of the main traffic area. It can be easy to put off organizing old shipping boxes or unpacking items, but if you keep stacking large barriers that keep you from fulfilling orders, you’re going to have a major backup. No one likes rush hour traffic blocks. Free up your space and employees to speed up receiving, stocking and fulfillment.
Don’t underestimate your warehouse employees and their roles in the success of your overall sales goals. Their speed and dedication in executing various warehouse processes can make or break your bottom line. Ask for input on how you can improve operations. Your warehouse team spends the majority of their waking hours in your warehouse. They spend more time with your products then they do their own families. Keep an open, ongoing healthy line of communication and never neglect their feedback. This is their livelihood – learn to trust their instincts.
Managing and processing a large quantity of goods can be quite stressful. In order to support your growing business, implement tools that will help unify your team. Inventory management and multichannel selling software, like the Stitch Labs platform enables retailers and wholesalers to manage invoices, purchase orders, inventory quantities and sales order data in one, application. This centralizes information and keeps teams on the same page, which saves you time and money.