Warehouse inventory management – 8 valuable tips
Before we begin, it’s very important to remember that warehouse inventory management is much more than the practice of arranging your inventory so that it can be found quickly. There’s more to warehouse management than just that.
Good warehouse organization is not only about putting everything in its place. It’s about maximizing productivity while saving time and money to increase inventory accuracy.
Things such as labeling are intuitive and can easily be done without the use of software. But, practices like using bar codes and scanners are a part of a warehouse and inventory management system. These systems focus on the flow and accuracy of product inventory.
Great warehouse inventory management starts with upkeep
First of all, make sure your warehouse meets your required standards. Inspect your operation and organization regularly and thoroughly.
Ask yourself is the stock located so you can easily and safely access it? Is there an area in your warehouse for damaged items? Are damaged items being dealt with daily?
An organized warehouse can quickly become a disorganized mess. A mess is undesirable because it can slow your pickers down. In conclusion, you should reorganize before your operations slow down. Also, you should have a daily checklist for the manager to stay on top of tasks.
Try utilizing cycle counts
Try to perform regular inventory control audits, and not just at the end of the year. Perform cycle counts and analyze their discrepancies to perfect the time it should take you to go through all locations. It’s good to have cycle counts go through all locations every quarter so that you have a more accurate back-office system.
Hot? Yep, your best selling and high volume items. Make sure they are easily accessible – you’ll eliminate a lot of unnecessary labor time. However, this should only apply to your proven top sellers to avoid unnecessary physical inventory re-allocation.
Also, another quick tip, make sure that these SKUs are situated between waist and shoulder height so that they can be picked quickly.
Do you have any products in your warehouse without labels? Put labels on them to make it easier for pickers to choose the right inventory. It’s all about reducing errors and avoiding future trouble by taking some simple preventative measures.
No unauthorized traffic in the warehouse
Nothing is worse than random people wandering around your warehouse. This can slow down your pickers, and the workflow itself. Never have unauthorized people walking around your warehouse, it can be dangerous for your business.
Think about it like this, what if a random parcel from the top shelf falls on a pizza delivery guy that just walked into your warehouse? This is why unauthorized traffic should be avoided at all costs. Eliminate the risk of having unauthorized people walking around the place where your inventory is stashed. Give your employees some kind of an identifier (like special t-shirts) that can distinguish those working in the warehouse and those that shouldn’t.
Implement quality control (QC)
Avoid having to fix your mistakes after the fact by double checking your orders. This is called quality control and it adds another layer of responsibility. The process usually involves checking a picked item against an order to make sure it’s the correct SKU and quantity.
Additionally, quality control can also check the item for damage to make sure that it is being shipped in its advertised condition and that the customer receiving it will be happy.
While QC can make the process a bit longer, as it’s another layer of responsibility, it might be well worth it. This step almost guarantees that the correct product (and quantity) will be always sent to the correct customer. It can save your business a lot of money, trust us.
Make some extra room for receiving
Most inventory errors can happen at receiving if your inventory management personnel don’t have enough space to work. However, you can prevent receiving errors by giving them a small office at the end of the room. This is an easy solution and can easily eliminate receiving errors.
Tidy up for tomorrow
Yep, this is extremely important and it’s a common oversight. Our suggestion would be to give your warehouse crew the chance to finish order processing and clean up before they clock out. You’ll need to schedule a time to stop processing orders, maybe 15-20 minutes before the end of the day, and allocate the remaining time specifically for cleaning.
As such, when the day ends, your warehouse will be organized and clean. Also, your inventory will be right where it belongs, instead of just lying around waiting for the next day to start in disarray. So when the next work day starts, everything will be at their correct place, the warehouse will be clean and everyone will be happy. Nobody wants to come to work early in the morning and find a huge mess…
To sum up
We believe that warehouse inventory management shouldn’t feel like a chore. It doesn’t have to feel like a never-ending cycle of receiving, picking, packing, and shipping.
If you take the time now to put warehouse organization into practice on a daily basis, it can actually feel quite refreshing. Operations can run smoothly, products can get picked faster, and employees can be happier with the right tools and techniques. Plus, you’ll be making a lot more money. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, start organizing you warehouse today, and see how much your business will improve over the next couple of months or so.