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.