No matter what size operation you’re running, warehouse organisation, inventory management and fulfilment are key to the successful running of a retail business. From single store rooms to multiple warehouse locations, improvements can always be made to help with efficiency and ultimately save time and costs at an operational level.
Fulfilment is quite clearly a vital part of any retail business – and from our perspective the process has to start with a well organised warehouse. With so much focus on increasing conversion rates and site visits, improving back office systems can sometimes drop down the to-do list. But it shouldn’t. It’s all well and good building up a better stock mix, improving email campaigns and PPC ads to drive sales growth and increase your traffic levels – but if your warehouse is in disarray it’s going to be hard to keep up with demand when orders start flooding in. So make sure stock locations are clearly set and the fulfilment process is understood across the team responsible for getting orders out the door.
Real time stock views – levels and location. It’s important for the pick/pack dispatch team to have visibility of stock at all times – be it the volume of stock remaining or the location of an individual item. From single storerooms to multiple warehouse locations, the principal should remain the same – a “single inventory view”. This is the best option for retailers to ensure they maintain an accurate picture of stock levels and movements across the business – at any given time.
Insights are important when it comes to warehouse planning. What’s selling fast? What products sell as single item orders? What’s the projected sell-through rate? Getting your head around this information can make a real difference to productivity and efficiency.
Re-arranging a warehouse can significantly speed up the picking process and get orders out the door faster. Products that sell together should also be placed near each other in the warehouse – again, helping to smooth out the picking process.
Retailers with a large number of products should be thinking about warehouse layouts that put quick-sellers or single-item order sellers near the packing room.
Digital picking is the way forward when it comes to efficiency. Long gone are the days of ticking items off a picking sheet. When orders start pouring in, you want picking teams able to collect stock from the warehouse as quickly as possible while maintaining accuracy. Handheld scanning for product barcodes and location labels helps to alleviate the issues of missed products while ensuring the right product is picked with the help of error alert systems.
Accuracy is important when it comes to warehouse management, picking and packing. Spending time correctly setting up a warehouse can make all the difference – ensuring you have the best layout of racks, shelving and bins. Venditan Commerce “Pack Check™” system helps dispatch teams with items loaded into a delivery, ensuring only the right products make it in. Improving accuracy can make a big difference in terms of time savings across the fulfilment and dispatch process – as well as ensuring retailers have happy customers who receive the right products in their order.
Year on year revenue comparisons are of course a key metric for any business. While focus must remain on finding new customers and taking more orders, a retailer’s bottom line comes down to small marginal gains in the operational side of the business. Speak to the experts – it’s not always the case that a complete warehouse system overhaul is needed. Identify areas of your system where the most time is taken and re-think your process in this area. Bite-sized system and process improvements can make all the difference.
27th January 2017