If you have a warehouse, you’ll understand just how important it is to make it as efficient as possible. That doesn’t mean, however – despite your best intentions and hardest work – that warehouse efficiency ideas are easy to come by. In a working warehouse that is always busy, trying to find the time and the space to keep things running smoothly can seem like an impossible task. Thoughts on how to improve your warehouse efficiency can quite often slip through the cracks.
Plus, customer demand is difficult to predict making it tricky to know what to order and when. After all, you don’t want to run the risk of over or under ordering. This is even more problematic when you take seasonal fluctuations, the weather, and the economy into account.
The good thing to remember is that there is a lot of technology that can help you tackle this huge task much more easily. The bad news is that much of it, such as handheld scanners and computer programs, is prohibitively expensive for a small or medium-sized business. So unless you want to spend most of your annual budget on your warehouse efficiency, you’ll need to come up with a different solution.
Our 6 warehouse efficiency ideas for your business
We’ve got one for you. Over the years we’ve worked with many different SMBs, accumulating significant experience and refining the perfect warehouse efficiency solution to help you achieve the productivity and reputation you have been looking for.
We’ve now put together six excellent warehouse efficiency ideas to help you move forward, offer a better service, and improve your bottom line:
- Use Your Tech To Achieve ROI
- Waste Less Time
- Hold Just What You Need
- Know your Warehouse
- Logistics Integration
- Motivate your Team
Why Warehouse Efficiency Ideas Are Important
Before we begin, however, it’s important to think about just why having these warehouse efficiency ideas is so important. What are you going to gain from it? How is your business going to improve from it?
Firstly, your customer satisfaction levels are going to increase. If you improve warehouse efficiency, you can ensure that you have the right stock at all times – you’ll know when to order more, and what to order less of. You’ll be able to give your customers real-time information about how much stock you have to save them a wasted journey and plenty of frustration. And of course, you’ll be able to get their orders right the first time.
As well as this, these useful warehouse efficiency ideas will increase your revenue and profit. You’ll have fewer complaints to deal with, freeing up your time (and that of your employees), and you’ll get better reviews and word of mouth recommendations too.
Use Your Tech To Achieve ROI
It is crucial if you are implementing new warehouse efficiency ideas into your business that you choose technology that is going to be right for it, and help you improve. The last thing you want to do is spend a fortune on tech that looks good but that you don’t really need, or that doesn’t do what it is meant to. Your budget is a vital piece of information to have to hand when you are looking into how to improve warehouse efficiency. Whatever you do, it must be an investment that brings in a return, rather than just spending money for the sake of it.
Risk vs. reward
And there will be a cost, there is no doubt about it. In order to improve your warehouse efficiency, you’ll need to change what you are currently doing. Making any big changes like this within a business is something that will cost money. This might be due to downtime as changes are made, staff alterations, or the software and technology itself. Knowing what this cost is and then working out the payback of the different warehouse efficiency ideas you are contemplating implementing is the important part.
Whatever you choose needs to pay for itself, or there is little point in bringing it into your business. Having a good service partner on hand to help you through this, and to offer recommendations that will be right for you (rather than a ‘one size fits all’ solution that very rarely, if ever, really does fit everyone well) can help boost your business and make the necessary changes.
Waste Less Time
Wasting less time in your warehouse may seem like it is easier said than done. However, it is possible. Once you can implement some of the more relevant warehouse efficiency ideas, you’ll soon see just how much time you were wasting, and how much you can therefore save.
With the right technology, you can plot the shortest or fastest (they won’t always be the same) route around the warehouse. This will ensure your pickers are able to do their job at their most optimum. Time wasted going backwards and forwards to collect more items can be eradicated. Not only is it better for the customers, it’s better for your staff too. Staff will have an optimal route around the warehouse, they won’t have to double back and run the risk of disrupting other workers, and they can be sure of being safe as they move seamlessly from area to area. If they are using vehicles to go from place to place, plotting the best, most efficient route will be greener too, and that is something that will not only improve warehouse efficiency, but enhance your reputation too.
This tech can also ensure that you locate the most popular items in the easiest to reach places, A modern system will provide this information and map this out for your business. You can even combine different orders that require the same items, making things move even more quickly than ever before.
Hold Just What You Need
The lean inventory approach is one that some business owners find rather daunting. They’re concerned that having only the stock that is actually needed can reduce their efficiency, or cause problems when it comes to supplying customers.
It’s true that if this approach were taken without the right technology behind it you could easily run into issues. However, we’re here to talk through the right technology, help you put it in place, and demonstrate how this is the one of the most significant warehouse efficiency ideas for your business. Ultimately, only holding the stock you know you’ll need is a great way to work.
By reducing or entirely eliminating ‘safety stock’ (that stock you have ‘just in case’ that most of the time never gets sold, or has to be sold off cheaply because it takes up too much space and you need to dispose of it), you are not only being more efficient within your warehouse, but within your business as a whole. You will improve warehouse efficiency, your bottom line and profits.
Know your Warehouse
To improve warehouse efficiency you need to have absolute knowledge of what is in your warehouse. You’ll also need to be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy what will sell, and how much you will sell within a given timeframe to make your ordering more efficient.
This will require analysing the historic data of what you have sold in the past, which means using technology. By doing this, you should be able to meet all the demands that a customer might throw at you. Of course, there will be fluctuations in demand, and to ensure you new warehouse efficiency ideas are working you’ll need to be adaptable. You can use an ERP or WMS to keep up with different trends, predict fluctuations, and you can even set your system up to re-order automatically if stocks are lower than they need to be at a certain point.
It’s all very well bringing new warehouse efficiency ideas into your business, but if your logistics aren’t there, you’ll soon run into problems. If you can integrate your own warehouse technology system directly with that of your logistics team, wouldn’t that be better?
Whether you’re using FedEx, UPS, USPS, Freight on Board (FOB), or any of the many other on-demand solutions that are available to business owners today, with our help and by using the right programs, you can ensure that your needs and those of your customers are always fully met by linking up with your warehouse stock programs, sending out orders, and tracking orders that are already out for delivery. Since shipping is one of the biggest areas for customer complaints even though it is usually out of your hands, by making it part of your business, you can keep tighter controls on what is happening, and ensure that
your business benefits.
Motivate Your Team
When considering how to improve warehouse efficiency, your team must remain central to your strategy. It is hugely important to keep them motivated where possible, and to help them do their job in the most productive, efficient way they can. They’ll be happier in their work knowing you’re looking out for them, and you’ll reduce wasted time all round. You’ll need plenty of warehouse efficiency ideas to ensure that this happens.
You can use the most impressive features of your technology tools – tote picking, optimised bin routes, cross-docking, managing out of stock products, offering clear pick lists – to keep everyone happy in their work. It’s crucial that this happens; the cost of having to hire people because you’ve lost staff due to them not feeling motivated to work for you is high – it costs a lot more than keeping your current staff happy, that’s for sure.
Helping them to do their job well is one way to motivate staff, but keeping them involved in the business is another. And this one will increase their loyalty to you as well. Using an ERP warehouse solution you can share targets and performance levels with your team, letting them all know where you are intending to get to and by when. The more involved your workers are in the business, the more they will want to work hard to achieve your – and by extension – their goals.
How To Improve Warehouse Efficiency
When it comes to warehouse efficiency ideas, you’ll see there are many ways to make improvements and ensure you are working at your best throughout the company and beyond it, extending to your suppliers and logistics companies too.
One thing is needed to achieve all of this: technology.
At Xpedition, we can help you achieve your goals and become more efficient in your business while also boosting your reputation and gaining more sales in the process. With our tailor-made Wholesale & Distribution solutions, we can change the way your business works for the better. If you want to know more about how to improve warehouse efficiency, contact one of our Wholesale & Distribution experts today.