The Ultimate Checklist to Optimize Your Warehouse Today
By Rackbeat December 8, 2022
Get Your Warehouse and Inventory Situated Now
If you either manage or work for a warehouse-driven company with a smaller or larger inventory, you might know the feeling of being caught dead in the middle of a hurricane when you step out in the back. You are entering a chaotic, ruleless time zone in which products and packing stations are twirling in the wind. You almost need a compass to navigate under these conditions, but that is not the worst part of it all. Working with an unstructured warehouse also creates a tsunami of horrible side effects for your business.
Because when you don’t have your warehouse and inventory under full control, you lose out on a whole lot of money and time you could have spent on customer service and marketing. You might even be able to extend your lunch breaks if you put a firmer hand on the wheel of your warehouse.
But even if your warehouse isn’t on the verge of being closed off by the authorities, or if you don’t own a massive warehouse, you can still pick up a lot of golden nuggets in this Ultimate Checklist to Optimize Your Warehouse Today. And who’s to say that, perhaps with a little help from this blog, you won’t scale your business in the future and become the successful owner of many well-filled warehouses in multiple countries?
So, if you want to call off the storm tormenting your warehouse or merely find the key to unlocking the secrets of an amazing warehouse, read the following 7 items that will optimize your warehouse conditions immediately.
1. Put Your Bestsellers and Products with Expiration Dates in Pole Position
Even though all products are important, there are still some products that are more important than others. These products can be classified as your bestsellers and products with a short expiration date. You must give these products a prominent and accessible position in your warehouse.
If you have a relatively large warehouse and inventory, it is really disadvantageous if you or your employees have to crawl through pallets and boxes in order to reach the most coveted products. Similarly, it is disastrous if your products with a short life span are suffering a slow and painful death behind products that could survive in a more secluded area of your warehouse.
Thus, when you reserve the best seats for your most valuable products, you will have a much more efficient workflow. And you will also protect yourself against economic losses when you roll out the red carpet for the products with a special place in the heart of your business. It all comes down to creating a structure and order for your warehouse that all your employees can easily recognize.
2. Create Order Instead of Chaos – or Lose Your Customers
Overcrowded warehouse spaces might seem like a sign of good health for a company with tremendous growth; however, more often than not it is more so the harbinger of a struggling patient. Because when your warehouse is a hot mess, you lose a lot of valuable time. This wasted time is often spent on locating the right order or cleaning the entire warehouse. And this is felt by your customers, revenue and employees.
When your warehouse is disorganized, your customer will most likely have to wait an extended period of time before the order reaches its destination – a time that might cause that customer to look for another, more efficient, supplier next time. It doesn’t matter if you are selling electronics, coffee or clothes: the modern-day customer refuses to sit idly in a waiting room.
According to a study conducted by Easy Ship, 61% of American consumers expect suppliers to deliver their orders within three hours. 17% even stated that they would cancel their purchase if they experience any delays.
Thus, if your warehouse resembles a car crash, then your deliveries will most likely suffer too. And that will put the patience of your customers to the test. Furthermore, you will have exhausted warehouse workers on your hands if they have to fight in something that echoes the trenches of World War I. But fear not, we have the perfect remedy for those traumatic conditions:
Here is a receipt containing the perfect medicine to combat poor warehouse conditions:
- Arrange cleaning procedures regarding who cleans when, where and what.
- Buy the right amount of trash cans and set up marked areas for garbage and recycling.
- Acquire a cardboard presser.
- Sort your products based on size and how often they are needed – perhaps by the logic of their daily, weekly or monthly use.
- Understand and store your product correctly: does it deteriorate by the exposure to light, cold, heat or dampness?
- Purchase shelves, bookcases and boxes that fit the size of your products.
Now that you have had a good whiff of what a healthy warehouse smells like, why not go more in-depth with the last two pieces of advice? They will increase the quality of life inside your warehouse as the proper storage of products and the acquisition of solid shelves, boxes and bookcases will do you good.
3. R.E.S.P.E.C.T the Product: Store Your Products Properly
In order to avoid bruises and minor bouts of depression for you and your employees due to constantly colliding with products and components with no address, you should look into improving the interior decoration of your warehouse. Simply put: create a nice home for your products.
Some products really do need some special conditions and placements in order to thrive. You will find products that don’t respond well to too much light whereas others drown if they are exposed to dampness. Thus, it is essential that you are on top of how you store your products and that you buy enough boxes to prevent the creation of a veritable warehouse crisis.
Another pro tip: spend some time and money on a shopping spree at your local interior designer.
4. Buy Enough Shelves and Bookcases for Your Warehouse
You might know that feeling of being trapped inside of a prison cell without oxygen as you are standing in an endless line in Ikea or some other interior design temple. That sensation is the reason why you will do anything in your power to avoid the dreaded scene again. Yet, when you own a warehouse, or if you work inside of one, it pays to sacrifice part of your freedom when you walk out of there with solid shelves and bookcases.
Before you purchase your new shelves and bookcases, though, you have to consider what kind of shelves and bookcases will fulfill the needs of your products. You might sell a whole range of items – in different weight classes, volumes and degrees of fragility. Thus, it is critical that you purchase just the right pallet, metal and box shelves for your business.
When you have weighed and measured your products, the next thing you need to do is to put numbers on your shelves and bookcases. In doing so, it will be so much easier to locate the products – especially during the busy seasons. The following scene from the real world contains a pretty decent suggestion as to how you could implement some structure in your warehouse with the help of numbers and shelves:
“Alright, listen here, folks. I’ve just bought these really neat shelves, you know? Let’s throw our most popular products on shelves 1-5 and install them near the packing stations. That’s practical and it’ll save us a lot of time. Boom. You see, it is not for nothing that I was crowned mid-level manager around these parts.”
The specific numeral system you decide to go with doesn’t really matter – as long as it is intuitive, it will boost your warehouse structure immediately. Both your employees and customers will sense this newfound order in your warehouse right away. You will also lay the perfect foundation for a smooth order process in which an order can be packed and shipped in a matter of minutes. That leads us to the next order of the day.
5. Place Your Packing Stations in the Perfect Positions
No matter how many stops an order has on the road from your warehouse to the lap of your customer, you have to make sure the whole journey goes smoothly. And that begins with the packing process. A well-planned packing process will namely optimize the workflow and lead to joyful, returning customers.
If you are packing heavy packages, it would, for instance, make a lot of sense if you placed the packing stations with the end result in close proximity to the goods reception in your warehouse. Nothing stops a fluid workflow like a stressed-out, hungry delivery guy who is forced to cross the entire warehouse in order to pick up his load.
You will avert this unfortunate situation if you make the packing process smoother. But how do you do that?
Simply get your hands on the following equipment:
Packing tables: You need a couple of fairly large packing tables when you run a warehouse. But do consider how many employees one packing table should have room for. Think about the size, shape and number of orders you generally send out. It would also be helpful if you acquired tables onto which you could attach wrappings, paper, tape, foil, etc.
Racks on wheels: Every process and every single working person will be a lot more mobile with some racks on wheels. They make it a whole lot easier to move packages and components from one packing station to the next.
Stepladders: If you need to climb mountains of shelves, it will help you and your employees reach the summit faster if you purchased a couple of flexible stepladders.
In conclusion, a detailed blueprint for your warehouse packing will save you an ocean of time and energy. And if you are in the FMCG business, you are probably aware of the importance of making the packing process as efficient as possible. You’ve also realized that Santa Claus is nothing but a fabled fantasy fraud because you know the pain of picking, packing og posting packages during the hectic seasons. An efficient and time-saving pick-and-pack process really puts the star on the Christmas tree.
Another thing that would make a positive impact on your warehouse processes and workflows is the usage of barcodes.
6. Bring Out the Barcodes
The picking and packing of orders will be so much easier when the products can be found in your warehouse. And preferably in a hurry. You shouldn’t have to hand out treasure maps and supersonic night vision goggles to your employees in order for them to track the products. Thus, it is highly recommended that you decorate your products with barcodes.
A barcode system coupled with some scanners will provide your warehouse workers with the perfect overview of all your products instantly. Therefore, if you haven’t done so yet, you should give your local barcode system provider a call. Then you will be able to dream sweet dreams at night as you’d know that the stocktaking and the picking of products can be conducted with ease while you sleep.
What won’t simply come to you while you’re asleep is a safe warehouse environment in which every single employee can walk with peace of mind.
7. Make Your Warehouse a Safety First Zone
If you are ambitious when it comes to the quality of your warehouse, then the well-being of your employees should be top-of-mind. Even if your company does not have warehouse workers, in the plural form, and it is “only” you who is sitting in the driver’s seat, it still pays to read this piece of advice.
Not only due to the fact that it is nice to pick up a safety jewel or two, but also because things won’t fall apart when your company is ready to scale if you already have implemented the good habits.
Thus, you should check up on your security and safety as you can get really hurt in a warehouse if you aren’t cautious. To help you with this, here goes a shopping list that will make it perfectly safe for your employees to have a picnic in your warehouse:
- Marking tape: Your employees must be able to find the nearest exit in case a fire breaks out or you get hit by some other emergency. Something as simple as marking tape will provide the ideal guide. If you have a security system you should probably mark it with tape as well.
- Forklifts or pallet lifters: In order to minimize the possibility of work-related injuries it’s advisable for you to purchase either forklifts or pallet lifters. Always have your employees’ backs.
- Racks on wheels: It’ll be so much easier to move parts and components if you’re supported by rolling racks.
- Disposable gloves: If you or your employees are packing sharp, greasy or chemical products they will rub their hands with the prospect of proper protection for their hands.
- A firm hug and a gentle touch on the shoulder: Nothing boosts morale like an intense hug and a sturdy touch on the shoulder. A well-executed hug releases endorphins which ease stress and pain. Thus, if you go crazy with the bear hugs, you will bring down the amount of sick days in your workplace considerably.
Now you can let the good warehouse habits grow – but the grass can be greener!
Now that you have dug your way down through the ultimate checklist, you have hopefully reaped a lot of seeds that you can plant in your warehouse immediately and watch your business sprout.
If you’d like your business to really flourish, you should put your bookmark away and keep the reading lamp on a little longer.
Because you can save a ton of money and time on your warehouse and inventory when you fully control the administrative processes surrounding your warehouse with a cloud-based warehouse management system. Check out our latest blog on the costs of a warehouse management system here or read the fairy tale story about one of our many happy customers right here.