Warehousing and logistics are a major cog in the wheel of business. That means that efficiency is vital with the proliferation of online businesses and exportation growth. Despite affordable technology available to businesses to increase productivity and decrease wasted time, many warehouses are still operating with manual processes, outdated warehouse utilization, and a lack of online presence.
Here are the top 5 ways to tackle your warehouse challenges in 2017.
Challenge 1: Still relying on manual inventory identification
The problem is simple: manual methods = human error. When your operations are based around spreadsheets and manual data entry, you are not only wasting valuable time but limiting your employees and the way that they fulfill orders and manage stock levels. When your warehouse staff has to run around searching for items based on a spreadsheet that is hopefully up to date, there is a risk of inaccurate counts which can lead to invalid item counts. This either leads to inventory shortage and the inability to fulfill customer orders or a buildup of stale inventory that is just money sitting on the shelf.
If you haven’t yet, start looking at online inventory management software. There are cloud-based solutions that allow real-time updates across all of your locations meaning that your stock levels stay accurate and you can connect your online marketplaces to ensure that your customers know whether you have an item in stock or not.
Challenge 2: Your inventory picking takes too much time
Without a plan in place to execute order fulfillment and shipping, you can end up running around the warehouse like a chicken with its head cut off. Increase your accuracy and cut down on time by utilizing a system that manages purchase orders, gives you a pick list, and includes a location and SKU number to match for a streamlined picking process. By giving everything a home and labeling your sub-locations, your inventory management software will keep track of where your stock is and how much is there. No more guess work in hunting down items.
Challenge 3: Not utilizing warehouse space efficiently
If you’re warehouse layout isn’t conducive to your day to day operations, it can have a negative effect on your business. Decrease in productivity, inventory control issues, shipment errors, and safety risks can negatively impact your business. By making sure you are using every square foot of space in your warehouse will keep overhead costs to a minimum and increase productivity.
Receiving is a critical function in the warehouse so it’s important to make sure your staff has ample room to carry out the necessary tasks from breaking down pallets to counting items. The more space in the receiving area, the easier it is for your staff to complete their jobs faster. The picking process can be tedious if you don’t have a plan of attack. Create a pick path of the direction you want your pickers to move through the warehouse, starting from the farthest point away from the shipping area to the shipping prep area. Have pre-decided pick paths ahead of time.
Finally, ensure quick product availability by having a system of aisles and cross aisles that make it easier to move around the warehouse. Long continuous aisles make it difficult from getting from one part of the warehouse to another. Cross aisles create a grid that is more efficient and easier to navigate.
Challenge 4: Having inadequate or no barcoding
Barcoding can speed up picking and receiving processes in your warehouse. Instead of manually entering SKUs, you can simply scan the barcode with a scanner or use the image capture on your mobile device with the Zenventory mobile app, updating your stock levels immediately. If you’re already utilizing barcode technology, make sure that your label printers are in good working order. Pay attention to packaging as well. Shrink wrapping and lamination can cause a barcode to fail. Make sure that your barcodes are printed in black. Certain color combinations will cause barcodes to fail – red bars against a white background or black bars against a green background are just two examples of poor barcoding.
Challenge 5: No online shopping cart or eCommerce presence
It’s dangerous to stay “brick-and-mortar” in an online-driven world. The retail industry is seeing steady growth in online sales that is being felt in physical stores. It’s beneficial to get your online presence updated. The startup and maintenance costs of online stores are relatively minimal, and can also be automated. It’s easier to integrate your various business solutions to an online marketplace, including your inventory management system, shipping solution, and even online accounting. Not to mention it’s very easy to update product information in real time and have it update to all your external integrations.