Putting the Efficiency Back in Your Warehouse Management Strategy
Keeping your warehouse operations in order can feel like treading water. With all the moving parts that are cooperating within your main distribution hub, sometimes it’s all you can do to stay afloat and get your orders out the door on time. If you’re feeling this stagnation, it’s likely because your warehouse management strategy is due for an overhaul.
The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to tap into the full potential of your warehouse. We’ve compiled some catch-all strategies, relevant to any type or size of organization, that will boost the effectiveness of your warehousing strategy.
What does warehouse management entail?
It’s easy to fall into the habit of only tracking your inventory and mistaking this for “management.” The difference between tracking and managing inventory is whether you’re maintaining your current state, or if you’re planning for your future. Tracking your inventory involves merely keeping tabs on your inventory levels, and deriving a sum cost based on that information. It’s perfectly functional for your day-to-day, but if you’re looking to improve your operations, you need more in-depth information than that.
Managing inventory is a much more forward-thinking strategy that allows you to take the insights of your inventory higher, to understand larger trends in your sales history. Warehouse management requires a critical eye and a problem-solving mindset, which can be accomplished by implementing a few key strategies.
Strategy #1: Barcoding
We’ve sung the praises of barcoding before, but believe us when we say it’s worth the hype. Barcoding brings your inventory into the digital sphere, which is absolutely essential for keeping your warehouse in order in today’s digital age. Unlike a physical account of inventory, a digital track guarantees that your inventory levels are up-to-date, and that each order has been checked for accuracy before shipment.
If you’re trying to keep an eye on the location of your inventory, barcoding can do that too — whether it’s on or off your physical warehouse location. No matter what happens to your inventory, barcoding will help track it, and you’ll never be left wondering about the state of any given order. By bringing this improved quality and accuracy, barcoding is a no-brainer for a successful warehouse.
Strategy #2: Tracking Popularity
Keeping an eye on your warehouse metrics is absolutely crucial to the health of your company, both in its current standing and in projections for the future. With the right solution, tracking which products are your most popular will highlight your customer’s purchasing trends that might have otherwise been lost on you. This helps determine when to reorder inventory, when to discontinue products that are no longer profitable, and which industries your products are best suited for. If you can keep a close eye on exactly what products in your warehouse are selling and to whom, you’ll be able to trim the fat and direct your focus on your actual money-makers.
Tracking sales can not only help inform your stocking strategy, but it can also be a huge asset in determining the spatial arrangement your warehouse. In order to maximize efficiency, make sure your warehouse is organized strategically so that your best sellers are stored in the most accessible sections, most likely near the warehouse entrance and at the front of the shelves. This way, you’ll save yourself the hassle of searching for the same product every time you need to fulfill an order.
Strategy #3: Drop-Shipping
If you have hyper-specialized items in your catalog that are profitable, but don’t have a broad appeal, you don’t want those taking up precious space in your warehouse. Any way you can optimize space will improve your warehouse efficiency, and drop-shipping can be extremely useful in achieving that.
Drop-shipping allows your company to ship products from a third-party vendor directly to your customer, so the product never needs to come in contact with your warehouse. Because the product will be out of your hands (and control, to an extent), make sure your third party is thoroughly reliable and dedicated to quality to make the tradeoff of minimized touchpoints and increased space in your warehouse worthwhile in your battle for efficiency.
Keeping your warehouse in line isn’t a simple task, and there’s no universal way to go about it. It will likely take some trial and error to find what works best for your specific situation, but always remember that you don’t have to go through it alone! Contact us to set up a Business Process Review if you’d like some guidance on streamlining your processes and improving your warehouse efficiency with a specialized ERP solution. We’re here to help.