Inventory accuracy and order accuracy are the most important things for retailers. It doesn’t matter how flashy your eCommerce site, or how wonderful your return policy is, if you are unable to fill your orders correctly. The key to maintaining accurate inventory counts and accurate order fulfillment is to create simple procedures to streamline your warehouse processes. Simplifying the workflow will ensure employees use the desired method to eliminate redundant processes in the warehouse and maintain inventory accuracy.
How can you eliminate redundant processes?
- Use Barcodes
- Improve Warehouse Layout
- ABC Analysis
- Create Smart Pick Lists
- Make Waves
Automating inventory management will go a long way toward streamlining your warehouse processes. Only about 64% of warehouses use handheld computers with built in barcode scanners. Using barcode labels on products will exponentially increase efficiency in your warehouse because each time an inventory item is touched it will be scanned directly into your order management system (OMS). Each scan will automatically update inventory levels, thereby improving inventory accuracy and giving inventory managers a real-time view of inventory in stock, quantities on hand, and where it is stored in the warehouse . Additionally, scanning a barcode label will ensure employees are choosing the correct item each time.
Improve Warehouse Layout
One of the simplest things that can be done to reduce processes is to improve the layout of the warehouse. If you take a step back and watch how your employees move through the warehouse, you will see how many times they retrace their steps just to complete one task. Keep the equipment needed for picks in the same location where employees collect their pick lists. Use ABC analysis to determine the best locations to store inventory. Improving warehouse layout will allow for more efficient walkthrough when picking items for order fulfillment.
Do an ABC analysis on your warehouse. An ABC analysis will help you classify your inventory to help you find the best location for each item in your warehouse.
- Group A - Items that are most important, i.e. best sellers, most used, etc.
- Group B - Items of less importance
- Group C - items rarely used, seasonal items not in season
Storing Group A items in easy to access locations will optimize picks in your warehouse. As the seasons change, you may find that things that were Group C have become Group A. You need to be prepared with a plan to reshuffle inventory to move those items most important at that time of year to prime locations.
Create Smart Pick Lists
Another way to eliminate redundant processes is to create smart pick lists. Create a route which will take pickers through the warehouse in the most efficient way possible.
A wave is a group pick that is automatically scheduled to run at intervals throughout the day. Waves create a more efficient pick process as they allow pickers to pick like items for multiple orders simultaneously.
The most important thing in all these steps is employee training. If you do not properly train your employees in the new warehouse processes, you will find yourself right back where you started. Improvements in the warehouse are only as good as the employees you have trained.
SkuNexus is a fully customizable commerce operations platform. Click here to see how SkuNexus can help you implement barcode usage and automate waves to eliminate redundant processes in the warehouse.