A warehouse needs to function in a way that allows employees to complete tasks fast and efficiently. Effective warehouse management can be an extremely complex endeavour. Not only does it involve optimizing workflow, analysing warehouse performance, documenting processes, recruiting and managing staff, integrating technologies and implanting equipment to automate processes – but also creating and maintaining a seamless inventory control system. Inventory control includes the coordination and supervision of stock receipt, storage, picking, packing and distribution of items with clear visibility of inventory in each of these areas.
Below are five tips for optimizing your warehouse inventory to generate maximum profit and enhance customer satisfaction:
1. Organize your warehouse
When organizing the layout of your warehouse, it is worth knowing which items sell best, and which are typically bought together. Grouping certain items together, and stocking them in a logical sequence close to the shipping area, can save your employees time. Such items should be place at hip or shoulder height to be retrieved quickly and safely. Ensure that you have a designated area for damaged goods and deal with them frequently to avoid a messy pile-up. Make sure that employees can move quickly from one space to another by eliminating obstacles in their way. All sections should be clearly categorized and labelled. When items are misplaced, it interrupts intuitive picking and wastes time.
2. Real-time reporting
The most effective way to keep track of your stock is through real-time technology. Real-time inventory reporting systems automatically reflect what is being moved in and out of your warehouse, show up-to-date and accurate inventory data at any time, accessible anywhere and from any device. Such systems can also be used to track parcels en route to their destination, and show the delivery status of items.
3. Start right
Eliminating errors at the receiving point can save you from putting out fires at a later stage. Ensure that you have enough room to receive stock, and that items are labelled immediately. Error-free receiving and labelling processes make it easy for pickers to locate items. Tackle every step of the warehousing cycle as if it were the most important to avoid wasting time and money, and build credibility at the same time.
4. Prioritise valuable customers
Colour coding your inventory according to priority is a creative way of identifying products that have to be picked, packed and shipped to VIP clients.
5. Stay competitive
Warehouse managers need to constantly measure results and implement changes to improve performance. Stay on top off what your competitors are doing and what your clients need. It may be lucrative to introduce additional specialized services such as kitting (receiving and packing stock from various suppliers into individual kits), cross-docking (moving stock directly from the receiving point to distribution or shipping), and custom labelling.
Be aware of technological advancements in inventory management technology, but don’t be tempted to upgrade every time new software is released – be selective not to confuse employees by constantly introducing new processes and systems. You may end up wasting time instead of saving time.
6. Plan ahead
Ensure that stocking policies are in place stating what minimum stock levels are and when they should be replenished. Automated demand forecasting can help you prepare for those seemingly “unpredictable” times, to avoid over- or under-stocking and effectively deal with fluctuations.