Managing a warehouse can appear relatively simple to an outsider, but any business owner with a warehouse knows that this is not the case. From storing, tracking, and packaging stock to organizing freight and reducing shipping costs, all to a strict timetable, there is minimal room for error. Efficiency is key to a warehouse’s success, and nearly every business could take steps to streamline its processes. If not managed well and reviewed on a regular basis, warehouse and shipping costs can quickly spiral out of control, cutting directly into a business’ profits. Here are six ways to make your warehouse more efficient and cut your costs.
- Measure your productivity
If you do not have an accurate measure of your current productivity, you will not know whether the changes you make have had a tangible impact. Your first step is to identify your key performance indicators (KPIs), such as cost per shipped order, the cost of a packaging error, or a returned product. When you have a way of measuring and tracking these KPIs, you have a baseline to monitor, can track improvements, and can provide regular feedback to your employees.
- Focus on staff motivation
It is no use to tell your staff to ‘work faster’ or ‘make less mistakes’. People need to understand specifically what is expected of them and to feel that their hard work is recognized and valued. When your staff has clear targets to work from, which are based on your business’ KPIs, they are more likely to increase their productivity.
- Simplify your processes
Over time, shipping processes such as ecommerce fulfillment can become unnecessarily complicated as teams grow and new procedures are introduced on top of old ones. In many cases, businesses stick with processes out of habit even when it is no longer the most efficient way to operate. In general terms, the fewer stages there are to a process, the cheaper and more efficient it will be.
- Train your managers
Business owners cannot be present at all times to ensure procedures are being followed, so it is important to have effective and committed managers in place. Your managers are responsible for ensuring your workers are motivated, that the quality of your service is maintained, and that small problems are caught before they become major issues. It might be time to invest in your warehouse managers with further training to ensure they understand how their role fits into the wider strategy.
- Invest in technology
Technology has developed significantly in recent years, and when used correctly, it can be transformative for a business. Popular choices include handheld mobile computers, label printers, and barcode scanners, voice control technology such as headsets, automated vehicles, and picking robots. More recent advancements include drones, smart glasses, and smart watches.
- Continue to analyze and improve performance
When you believe that your changes have delivered greater efficiency and productivity, you may think that you can sit back and relax. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is always more to be done to improve your operation, so it is essential to cycle through tracking, reviewing, and adjusting to ensure you are keeping up with your competitors.