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Set Up Your Warehouse to Optimize Pick and Pack

Yitz Lieblich

Whether you have an existing warehouse or are just starting out, one of the most important things is setting up your warehouse to operate at maximum efficiency. The goal of eCommerce businesses is to send out orders quickly and correctly. You want your customers to receive the right item, on time, every time.

Warehouse Layout Can Be a Help or a Hindrance

The layout of your warehouse can either help or hinder this process. While it might seem elementary, the organization and layout of your warehouse cannot be stressed enough. It is of no use to your business if your top items are selling out quickly online when you are unable to fill those orders correctly and on time. If your warehouse is messy and disorganized, with items thrown helter skelter anywhere there is free space, you will find it difficult to reach that goal.

Mispicks Happen 3% of the Time

Picking is the process of locating the item in your warehouse and pulling it from the shelf. You may be surprised to learn that 52% of warehouse managers say they face mispicks at least 3% of the time.  With the average cost per mispick at about $22, the overall cost to warehouses can be over $300,000 annually! That’s a lot of money. Finding the right layout for your warehouse can help reduce the number of mispicks thereby increasing profitability.

Organized Warehouse = Happy Employees

The right layout for your warehouse will improve not only your business, it will also improve employee morale. Nobody wants to work in a messy environment.  Before you make any changes to how your warehouse is set up, you should speak to the employees who are involved with day to day warehouse operations. That does not just mean the warehouse manager, it includes those employees who actually do the physical picking and packing for all your orders. Find out from them what processes are working and what processes can be improved upon. Listen to what they are saying.  By listening to your employees, and involving them in the solution, you will gain a team that wants to put their best foot forward. 

With your employees outlining the current workflow, pointing out their pain points, you can make an informed decision regarding adjusting the layout of the warehouse. For example, there are generally certain steps in the picking process that almost always come before or after other steps. So if your employees tell you that they always use Equipment B immediately after Equipment A, but the two items are stored far away from each other, you should make sure that those two items are always stored near each other.  It is extremely frustrating, not to mention inefficient, when your employees need to run back and forth across the warehouse just to accomplish one simple task. This is one example of an easy solution that can result in a huge reduction in pick time.

Location, Location, Location

Another issue is the location of your stock items. Where are your items stored? Are there certain products that are big sellers? Are certain items usually sold together? Are there some things that are only seasonal? Are some things stored behind other things? Do employees need to move stock around just to reach the item they are seeking? Once you have a handle on how items are sold, you will be able to organize your inventory for maximum efficiency. With like items stored together, and big sellers stored up front, you employees will no longer be walking in circles through the warehouse just to pick one order.

Traffic Patterns & Employee Safety

With the location of stock items improved, you can now address the traffic pattern in the warehouse. Are employees walking through the warehouse any way they please? Do employees constantly bump into each other as they do a walkthrough picking their items? Are there bottlenecks at certain areas causing delays in completing the pick? Bottlenecks and traffic jams, a common problem in warehouses, not only decrease productivity, but can be a safety hazard for your employees. The safety of your employees is priority number one.

Automating your Warehouse

The final step to setting up a well optimized warehouse is implementing automation. By using an inventory management system, you will take the guesswork out of most processes. Decisions like where to place items into inventory will be decided for your employees.  Traffic patterns through the warehouse will be predetermined to ensure optimum safety and efficiency through the pick process. No more bottlenecks and traffic jams hindering the workflows.

The process of picking and packing is vital to your business. It is the last step before your products reach your customers. It is of utmost importance that this step in the eCommerce chain be done correctly.  If done right, it will help you grow your customer base and increase your profits.

SkuNexus is the best inventory/order/warehouse management system. Our fully customizable platform will help you organize your warehouse in a way that will optimize all your workflows. Whether you have been running your warehouse for many years or are just starting out, SkuNexus can help you succeed.

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