5 Warehouse Hacks to Bring You Closer to Overnight Delivery
And there’s no place where that’s more true than in the warehouse of a busy, product-based business.
There’s a huge number of different systems and processes to stay on top of – but that also means there’s a huge amount of opportunity to make small improvements that add up to a big change overall.
Efficiency may not be glamorous – but it’s essential for success.
Here are 5 stock management tips to help you run a well-oiled warehouse:
1. Ditch the paper
If you’re using paper-based processes to manage your warehouse, we’ve got some bad news for you:
You’re wasting time.
Between sales, audits, purchase orders, and picking and packing, there’s a huge amount of double-entry and physical fetching involved with paper.
Every order, record, and report has to physically move through your business, waiting on desks to be processed and entered manually.
And every one of these minor inconveniences adds up to a huge amount of time.
So what’s the solution?
Ditch the paper – and tie all of your data together with software.
Once you make the move to a paperless warehouse, you’ll be able to:
- Drastically reduce any human error (and the extra time spent correcting and updating those errors)
- Keep everyone involved in the loop and up to date – sales data feeds through to your warehouse instantly, and your warehouse managers can see the stock levels in real-time as goods move in and out
- Cut down on your labour costs (which are often as high as 70% of your warehouse’s budget).
Still not convinced? Take it from one of our own clients: Selectequip:
When they made the move from Sage to Cin7, they cut out as many paper-based processes as they could.
And once they had everything linked up digitally, they were able to transform a 7-day delivery timeframe into an overnight one – they were able to process and dispatch their orders in a matter of hours, rather than days.
2. Re-work your warehouse layout
Cutting down on physical paper is great.
But you can’t get around the fact that your warehouse runs in a physical space.
That means you need to do everything you can to make the physical aspects of your business as efficient as possible (things like receiving, storing, picking and packing your goods).
So how can you improve the physical space your warehouse operates in? You can start by:
- Allocating more space to your receiving section, giving your workers the space they need to inspect, organise and label new goods – and helping to avoid any domino-effect errors later on
- Storing fast-moving items close to where they’re needed – so your pickers don’t have to constantly hike across your warehouse for the most common items in demand
- Storing closely connected items near to each other – if certain materials or products are often sold as a package, don’t make your pickers do a full circuit of your warehouse just to get both
- Creating shortcuts – instead of arranging your warehouse like a set of supermarket aisles, go for a city-block approach: give your pickers the chance to move in all directions when they need to.
By giving your warehouse managers instant access to your sales reports and incoming delivery data, they’ll be able to make informed decisions about which products sell the fastest – and which ones are often sold together.
Which brings us nicely onto our next point:
3. Use every bit of data you can
We all know that knowledge is power.
But what lots of businesses don’t seem to realise is this:
Knowledge is money, too.
With the right digital tools behind you, you’ll have access to the kinds of deep reporting and insightful data that can make your warehouse run more smoothly – and make any cost-cutting opportunities painfully obvious.
Tools like Xero and Cin7 can help you by:
- Keeping track of your historic purchases – so you can compare the prices and delivery times of your different suppliers to find the best deals and the fastest turnaround
- Unifying your different teams – once your sales channels are integrated with your stock control, it becomes much easier to forecast (and much harder to run out of stock)
- Measuring your processing and delivery times by each order or product – so you can see which types of order or product are lagging behind.
4. Invest in the right gadgets
You won’t always need robotic arms, floor vehicles or automated carousels to see big improvements in your warehouse.
But a few choice investments in the right tech can make a massive difference. You could try looking into:
- Thermal printers for creating barcode labels on the fly (An app like Cin7 can be linked up to your printers to handle the code generation)
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags – RFID readers can read up to 200 tags at once (and at range!) which can take a huge chunk out of the time it takes to track stock
- Multiple mobile devices – when you have several handheld scanners and readers all connected through Bluetooth and the cloud, you can have an entire team doing the same stock take or audit at once, in a fraction of the time.
5. Never let your stock control slack off
This should be an obvious one – but it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into.
Goods should be booked in the moment they’re received, with every relevant detail filled out and uploaded to your records.
Your purchase orders should be recorded into your inventory app, so you can manage things like partial receipts and estimated arrival dates.
And if your big stock take is getting in the way of running your warehouse?
Switch to cycle counting instead – spreading out your stock take over the course of a few months, and giving you a sneak preview of any problems you might have at an early stage.
What’s the next step?
Keeping a slick warehouse that runs smoothly and efficiently is no easy job.
But with the right tools, you can automate and speed up many of the most time-consuming tasks – and get useful insights and reports when you integrate your different bits of software.
At BlueHub, we’ve worked with countless product-heavy businesses to help bring them up to speed in a new world of work.
So if you think your warehouse could do with a little tweaking, give us a shout or book a free call – we’ll be more than happy to talk about how we can help you improve.
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