Although the warehouse is considered part of the back office, it’s front of mind for the consumer and buyer. Why? A strong warehouse inventory system enables you to better serve and impress your customers with on-time deliveries every time.
The bottom line is that if you can impress your customers every time they transact with you, you’ll better retain those customers and easily win over new ones. The last thing you want is to lose a customer due to an item being out of stock or shipped much later than expected.
Also, while technology will help you get to a highly-optimized warehouse, so will people. It’s business critical that your warehouse staff are properly using your inventory management software to track stock and that everyone is following the same protocols.
All of these reasons point to why it’s so important to optimize your warehouse inventory management system. However, there are seven more must-haves to setting up the most efficient warehouse inventory management system that will help you win over every customer.
7 Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse Inventory Management Techniques
1. Use a labeling and barcode system
Labels and barcodes make product tracking and inventory management easy. Without them, your warehouse staff could spend hours trying to locate a product to ship out. In addition to speeding up the pick and pack process, labels and barcodes also enable you to perform cycle counts, ensuring that your inventory numbers in your inventory management software are accurate. Group like items together as that also makes it easier for employees to locate stock. Also, UPC barcodes make it possible for you to sell on multiple marketplaces, including Amazon.com.
2. Location is everything
A well-designed warehouse will improve your operational efficiency, save you money and improve your inventory turn ratio. For popular items, make those the most accessible to your pick and pack team. For high-volume SKUs, you’ll want to consider setting up multiple pick, pack and ship locations. Store items that are less frequently shipped in a less accessible area. Just as in real estate: location, location, location is everything. A well-designed warehouse is often a moving target, so evaluate it quarterly to be sure the current layout is the best. Ask your employees regularly for feedback on any changes they recommend.
3. Use demand forecasting to increase inventory turns, optimizing your inventory investments
Demand forecasting requires a look at prior year sales history and then combines it with forthcoming (forecasted) sales that your team is predicting will come in—usually in your CRM. This will ensure that you have enough room in your warehouse for your best-selling items. Order too much of a less popular item and that slow-moving stock is now taking the place of fast-moving, high-margin products that are in demand. Avoid this scenario and you’ll inherently see your margins increase.
4. Use inventory management software to track your stock
If you don’t have this; get it. In today’s fast-moving economy, inventory management software is a true business advantage to those that are using it. But, that’s the key—your teams must be using it and using it properly in order for it to be effective. Once you choose an inventory management platform, be sure to train everyone on how it’s to be used and communicate that it’s mandatory. If your employees aren’t properly using it, you're wasting an asset that will make your warehouse and back office teams more efficient. Implement, train and repeat regularly.
5. Improve and optimize your receiving of goods
Use your inventory management software to issue digitized purchase orders and receive goods as quickly as they arrive. Scan barcodes and apply the appropriate labeling to get them stocked quickly, especially if a high demand product. Don’t let receivables sit days at a time. Get them scanned and shelved right away. If it’s a highly popular item, you run the risk of losing that customer simply because it took your team too long to receive and shelve it.
6. Perform random pick and pack checks
To be sure shipments are being accurately prepared to go out the door, warehouse managers should randomly spot check prepared shipments to ensure there are no human errors. This is especially important with new employees. Until an employee has reached 90 days of tenure, for example, it’s a great idea to randomly check their work.
7. Training and safety are a must
Be sure to address the former first and you’ll have less trouble with the latter. By properly training your warehouse staff, you’ll have less errors and injuries. Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common injuries, so be sure to require the right kind of footwear. For employees operating lift equipment, ensure each operator is properly trained and certified. Equally important is the dock. Your dock should be fitted with the right dock plates and boards to aid delivery drivers in getting receivables right up to your door. The right equipment aids safety, so be sure to buy what is recommended to make your warehouse safe.
If you’re able to implement all of these techniques right out the gate, you’re on track towards a highly optimized warehouse, which helps lend to happier customers. And we all know, a happy customer is likely to be a returning customer.
Looking for a cloud-based software to help you optimize your warehouse inventory management system? Systum is the industry’s first enterprise-grade, affordable business platform that helps you run your wholesale, distribution or digital commerce business. Switch to Systum and optimize your operations, unify data and better serve every customer from one dashboard.
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