Warehouse management refers to the actions it takes to run a warehouse. Here’s how to effectively improve it.
Tasks like receiving, shipping, storing, picking, and packaging must be working well for your business to succeed, whether you have thousands of items to store or just a handful. Completing these steps efficiently means customers will be happy.
Warehouse management for small boutiques and retail shops is usually done by team members who work in the warehouse. Larger companies use automated processes. There are advantages to each. As the owner, it’s up to you to find ways to improve how your warehouse is managed. Below are nine tips:
1. Reward Your People
Great staff is hard to find, especially when money is limited. That’s why you must get creative when showing your appreciation to the rock stars in your warehouse. Don’t worry if you can’t give them raises. Supplement income with perks, like deep employee discounts or earned days off. Reward positive behaviors consistently. Not too many companies do this, but it is necessary. You don’t necessarily have to purchase staff anything. Sometimes a simple thank you note, or public recognition goes further than monetary gifts. However, you can offer monetary incentives instead of gifts. Create opportunities for employees to earn more money. For example, give them a percentage if they find creative ways to sell overstocked inventory that didn’t sell.
2. Simplify Processes
Look around your warehouse or storage space to see how you can make tasks easier and more efficient. You may have the cutest warehouse setup of all boutiques, but it takes your staff ten extra minutes to find one item. Your warehouse should flow so that staff can get in and out quickly. It should be organized and uniform. Buy a label maker and use it for every item in the warehouse.
You may be thinking that you are a small company, and you know where everything is in your head. This works only if you never hire new staff and if your company never grows. Develop a solution that brand new employees can quickly learn.
3. Maximize Your Layout
Which items you put closest to the door and which ones you store in the back can make a difference. Use your sales reports to create a layout. If a newly stocked cashmere sweater is hot right now and you are placing reorders from your wholesale supplier, store it in a place that makes it easy to access. Save your staff time and effort by putting the best-selling items closest to the entrance door.
Also, don’t forget to use vertical space. You can store items on high shelving if you have solid safety protocols for retrieving those items.
4. Avoid a Pile Up
Have you ever placed orders from your wholesale supplier, received them quickly, and then let them sit in the corner of your warehouse because you don’t have the time to store them properly? So have many other retail owners. You can avoid this by establishing a receiving process and assigning one or two staff only to oversee the stocking received products.
5. Choose a Warehouse Management System
If you think you can’t afford a warehouse management system, you are not alone. Many boutique and retail owners put this off if possible. However, warehouse management systems save you money. And that’s just one benefit.
Other benefits include optimizing office space, lowering operating expenses, and making it easy to see what is available in real-time. Plus, it helps you trace all your products. You can pick and choose processes to automate, lightening your workload.
6. Consult Your Supplier
If anyone knows about warehousing, it’s your wholesale supplier. Ask them for ideas and suggestions and build your relationship simultaneously. Often, suppliers have a bit of flexibility regarding processes that could improve your warehousing. For example, some wholesalers can change shipping dates to suit your warehouse needs better. Some wholesalers can sell small batches rather than large ones to save you space.
Also, connect with your wholesale supplier’s ordering and shipping software and technology to make it easier to purchase and choose a shipping cost and receiving date. You will be able to track your order in real-time with the click of a button.
7. Measure Your Progress
Picking, packing, and shipping are three constants in your business, making them easy to measure. Gather as much data as possible. Ask for employee feedback, look at your sales reports, and track the time it takes from receiving an order to shipping it. Performing counting cycles monthly to check your inventory and spot errors.
8. Get Lean
There is a warehousing model called LEAN that provides straightforward steps to make your warehouse run efficiently. The steps include:
- Sort – This step involves creating categories and criteria for sorting your products.
- Set – This step involves arranging the warehouse setup to reduce time and distance between each step.
- Shine- This step is all about keeping your storage space clean and organized.
- Standardize- This step involves implementing standards across the board. For example, all labels should look and say the same things. Signage should follow a standard too.
- Sustain – This step involves not getting complacent once you reach your warehouse goals. There is always room for improvement. Keep measuring progress and making improvements as needed.
9. Make it Safe
Workplace injuries cost you time and money and possibly the loss of a great employee. Warehouses are full of accidents waiting to happen. Make safety and health for your employees a priority in your business. Ladders, step stools, grabbers, and motorized racks are inexpensive ways to provide extra safety measures in your warehouse. When you design the layout, check all possible spots your staff may work to ensure visibility and easy access to products.
Contact your wholesale supplier about warehouse management. They have experience utilizing storage spaces for efficiency. They understand the pick, pack, and ship processes and help you do it better. They may even have ideas on engaging employees. It’s a win for everyone.