What Most Businesses Forget About Warehouse Management

Looking after a warehouse is a surprisingly challenging business operation. However, some businesses have mastered the art and seem to be able to really make it work. Fulfilment companies and longstanding ecommerce stores often have solutions in place that reduce admin and ensure customers get the items they want faster.

This trend is so significant that many companies don’t rely on themselves at all for this aspect of their operations. Instead, they always go to third-party companies and get them to do the donkey work for them. There’s just no point attempting warehouse management when the necessary skills simply aren’t there. 


Inventory Visibility


Many businesses forget inventory visibility during warehouse management. This is the idea that companies should know how much stock they have and where it is. Shelving company Tufferman which often fits out industrial companies and warehouses believes this is a crucial issue for many firms. Removing visibility is harmful and can have detrimental effects on productivity long-term. 

“Employees need to be able to see what’s in a warehouse so they can pick and pack faster,” the company says. “You don’t want a situation where workers are having to comb through everything several times to find what they want. It should all be immediately visible on the shelf.”

The main reason this doesn’t happen is overstocking. Stuffing shelves full of items that aren’t selling prohibits access to those that are and makes it more difficult to get hold of things when employees need them. Many SKUs remain hidden and out of sight, and only become visible once you fulfil a bulk order. 

Lack of visibility is also a problem on the software and paperwork front. Many firms don’t keep accurate measurements of what’s in storage, preventing them from thriving in the long run. Failing to keep accurate records increases the risk of shrinkage and makes employee theft considerably more likely. 

To deal with these issues, Tufferman has some advice. “Generally, it’s a bad idea to pile items on top of each other unless they’re similar or interchangeable in some ways,” the firm believes. “Businesses would be much better served if they took time out of their busy schedule to prevent overcrowding and achieve improved results.”

Mostly, you can control stocking and inventory issues with software. These tell you where to put items, how to store them, and when you need to order more to reduce the guesswork involved. 

Warehouse Layout


Another thing businesses forget is the optimal warehouse layout and design. Getting this right can spearhead productivity and help companies become more productive. 

The key here is to use software to map pick paths and show where pickers are most likely to go based on your most popular products. If you can reduce the amount of time pickers and packers spend en route, it can have a profound impact on overall productivity and wages. 

“The combination of proper storage and software to optimise layouts can be transformative,” Tufferman says. “Warehouse operators can get a better sense for how to use their existing space and even reduce their overheads through efficiencies.”

Making these changes is surprisingly simple and usually requires a couple of weeks of working with software vendors and consultants. Combined expertise can rearrange warehousing systems and make them more conducive to effective business. It’s not always plain sailing and there are challenges along the way, but it is something that’s been proven to work repeatedly. 


Using Technology


Related to this, many companies forget to use technology when arranging their warehouses. Some managers take the view that it’s just a big building with stuff inside it, but that’s denying them the opportunity to improve. 

Technology matters in warehouses, just like it makes a difference elsewhere. When it goes right, it can change things forever and really make the business better. 

Today, warehouse management systems (WMSs) are becoming standard. These automate various tasks and improve accuracy, providing managers and staff with more visibility and transparency. 

Companies are sometimes hesitant to invest in these systems because of the upfront and ongoing costs. But most find that they make their money back and more through efficiency savings and doing business better. 

Even customers may notice. WMSs keep items in stock longer and help you dispatch them faster to those who order them. 


Employee Training


A lot of warehouse-based companies believe the people they hire don’t require training or instruction. And that’s a shame. Many make do with low-productivity labour forces, believing that investment won’t make much of a difference. 

It turns out, of course, that this isn’t exactly true. Many of the top firms in the space regularly plough money into their people to help them become better at their jobs. It turns out that the productivity ceiling for the average worker is high. 

Companies also benefit from improved safety and accuracy. When employees receive an education, they are less likely to make mistakes that interrupt operations and cost the business money. 

Usually, firms in the sector do weekly or monthly training, usually lasting 30 minutes to 1 hour. These help remind colleagues of the skills they need and the procedures they must follow to thrive. Failing to keep them updated can lead to bad habits forming. Colleagues may be more at risk of hurting themselves or providing customers with substandard services. 




Finally, many warehouse operators neglect safety concerns. These working environments are full of hazards and require a working strategy to remedy them.  For example, employees are at risk of objects falling on them and from forklift trucks (if they are present). Slip hazards and heavy machinery are also risks. 

Compensation payouts for injuries incurred on your premises can be quite high, so buildings should prioritise their safety. If your warehouse does experience an incident, it can harm your employee brand reputation, making it less likely talented individuals will seek you out.