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When operating a small business that sells products to customers, having a warehouse or stockroom is a necessity to store inventory for order fulfillment or filling retail shelves. Yet unless you have previously worked in the retail or warehousing profession, you often don’t consider how a messy and disorganised storage space can cause delays, inventory miscalculations, and increased business costs.

Don’t let the term warehouse or stockroom put you off. We imagine a warehouse or stockroom to be a cavernous shed that is busy with forklifts, etc. The reality is that most warehouses and stockrooms are quite small with most of the stock moved by hand.

When first opening your business doors, you are more concerned about branding your business and bringing in sales. So when you get new merchandise, you just keep it in the shipping box and stack the boxes in the corner. In time as your product inventory expands, the stockroom or warehouse gets disorganised as popular products are pushed further back into the building and mixed up with other merchandise, causing inventory discrepancies. You have no idea how much stock you have available, leading you to order more items without first clearing out the existing stock. When finally you do organise the warehouse or stockroom, you find extra merchandise that is now old or obsolete as it takes up too much space.

Creating efficient warehouse or stockroom operations

1: Have a floor plan

Developing a working floor plan for the warehouse or stockroom allows you to maximize the room to the fullest potential without having wasted space. This floor plan will allow you to create a picking order so your employees have an easier time fulfilling orders and managing inventory levels.

2: Pick the right storage units

Different businesses will require unique shelving, bins and hanging racks. Bin shelving is appropriate for companies selling small items such as hardware bolts or car parts. Independent clothing retailers may opt for garment hanging bays. Small hobby and horticultural centres that sell seasonal items may benefit from mobile shelving that can be moved around so they can reach items that are in the most demand during certain times of the year.

3: Consider efficient product placement solutions

Your workers shouldn’t run marathons to the back of the stockroom or warehouse to get popular merchandise while slow-moving items sit in the front of the building. Items in high demand should be placed in the front while seasonal items can be placed further back so the stock is not in the way. There are also several picking methods that you can adopt based on your warehouse operations to speed up order fulfillment, such as zone picking, batch picking and multi-order picking techniques.

4: Adopt an inventory control system

Inventory control systems allow you to better manage inventory, replace stock, and review stock movement history to understand sales. By having this system in place, you can take charge of your inventory and costs as you’ll have the records and information on hand to make smart business decisions.

An organised warehouse or stockroom leads to efficient operations for any size business. Consider how your existing floor plan, picking methods and storage units affect your productivity, then seek out the appropriate inventory management that benefits the working environment. Eliminate wasteful inventory practices to keep your customers satisfied and your sales team productive.

As we focus on front of house operations to get our marketing right and generate sales, please remember and take note that creating an efficient warehouse or stockroom will prove to be one of your most astute business decisions.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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