Every warehouse is different, but there are common principles that separate optimized warehouses from the rest. Properly maintained warehousing keeps logistics costs as low as possible and customers happy. Here are a few of the most common issues to review first.
What are the most common Warehousing Mistakes?
Storing too Much Excess Inventory
Despite years of knowledge
- dissemination in the warehousing field
- encouraging lean practice
- inventory reduction
Supply Chain organizations commonly repeat the mistake of simply trying to house more inventory than they should. Make arrangement with your suppliers to break large orders into smaller more manageable pieces.
- Dirty loading docks
- Wrap materials not thrown away
It sounds simple, but not keeping your warehouse clean and organized is an easy problem to have unless it is focused on. Make cleaning and organizing part your process at the end of shifts to avoid issues.
Employee development in a warehouse may sound like a unnecessary cost, but regular training to improve process both keeps your warehouse running optimally as well as helps retain employees as they develop more skills.
Pick Path Strategy
Not having an efficient strategy and plan for pick paths drops your pick rate efficiency significantly.
This effects everything from your logistics efficiency to labor costs to customer satisfaction.
Take the time to optimize a pick route strategy and continually review this to make sure you are reaching peak efficiency.
Here are a few Inventory Management Strategies
There is nothing more challenging in logistics than when inventory management systems and order management aren’t integrated properly. If these channels operate on the same system it will increase efficiency and eliminate mistakes. This will make the process easier for the 3PL and customer.
Keeping up with Demand and Industry Standards
Lets face it, Amazon has set the bar high from a logistics perspective and consumers are expecting similar experiences across the board. Fulfillment organizations have to understand the end customer more than ever. Processes and procedures will change with the evolving channels so you need to stay flexible. Communication and quick responses will keep the operation running efficiently and ultimately keeping consumers happy to drive more business.
Customers want to be able to purchase product online, buy online and pick up in store, and then also buy online with the ability to return to a store. The number of options can make it difficult for retailers, especially if all of these channels are not on the same inventory management system. With a 3PL involved, it can cause another hurdle as inventory will have to be reconciled in multiple locations. We will further discuss systems in a moment.
If you are looking for a fulfillment partner to handle this operation, make sure the 3PL has experience working with retailers and omnichannel operations. They are complex and require an expertise.
Is your business growing and products are flying off the shelves? If so you are probably noticing that more and more of your time, which is already limited, is being spent on the details of packaging and shipping.
This is a sign it is time to find a fulfillment partner to keep your business growing and running smoothly.
However, this isn’t a decision that can be taken lightly. Your product shipments and customer satisfaction are at stake and you can’t just have anyone handling this.
Here are some tips that will ensure you pick a partner to live up to your companies success:
A lot of companies will promote themselves as order fulfillment companies when in reality they are just warehouses that are trying to add on services. These types of companies have little experience with inventory management, product reordering, shipping regulations, etc.
You want to make sure you are partnering with a company that has lots of experience and expertise in fulfillment. This will typically mean they have the ability to grow these logistics as you grow as a company without any sacrifice of quality to your customers.
Choose a company that has a long history in the fulfillment space.
- Review their Pick-Error Rate
Like anything in life and business, not every fulfillment company performs to the same level.
The industry average for pick-error rate (shipping the wrong item) is about 1%. That may sound pretty good, but keep in mind that this is the average meaning many companies are far below that as well as even at 1% if you are shipping hundreds or thousands of items those errors add up.
Find a partner with a pick-error rate as close to 0% as possible.
An expert fulfillment company separates itself with operational excellence. This means they should have well documented and tested processes in place for fulfilling orders on time and accurately.
They should be proud of this process and proud to share it. Study this process to see if it looks simple and makes sense.
Of course when you ask a sales person how the service is they will say it is the best in the business, but how can you be sure?
The only way to know is too give it a test drive. Try calling the support line. How long does it ring? Who answers? Are they friendly?
Like testing the support line, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to service. Ask the company you are considering if you can talk to some current customers. They should have nothing to hide and be excited that you want to talk their customers.
Choosing the right fulfillment company could be on of your most important decisions. Take the time to research these partners to avoid issues that could have been avoided.