6 Tips for Better Warehouse Inventory Management in 2017

A warehouse shelf full of boxes.
As consumers demand increasingly faster delivery, warehouse inventory managers are under immense pressure to ensure inventory is optimized and workflows run seamlessly. When inventory management fails, the entire supply chain feels the effects. As the year draws to a close, these tips will help you evaluate your processes and performance and identify clear objectives and strategies to gain efficiency and strengthen inventory management in 2016.

Identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Warehouse management is well on its way to embracing modern technology, and that includes effective data management and analytics capabilities. To measure performance effectively, you need clearly defined objectives or KPIs. Reducing shipment errors or cutting costs, for example, might be priorities going into 2016. But first, you must establish a baseline and define clear goals that you can measure against.

Maximize vertical space

A warehouse has a set amount of square footage to utilize, making innovative, optimized layouts appealing for today’s warehouse managers who are faced with storing increased product volume in a static amount of space. In 2016, consider making better use of the vertical space in your facility, but don’t neglect layout optimization best practices. Maximize your use of vertical cubic footage by placing seasonal products or those that move less frequently in harder-to-reach vertical storage areas.

Solicit feedback from front-line staff

Every organization has employees who primarily work on the front lines, and warehouses are no exception. In the warehouse, your front-line staff are the employees who stock your shelves, pick stock, load and unload shipments, and even those who interface with customers and vendors. These employees are a wealth of information, often untapped, when it comes to finding ways to improve productivity. Ask what their biggest pain points are, what tasks take most of their time, and what processes or tools would help improve efficiency.

Support workflows with the right technology

Do you have a Warehouse Management System (WMS)? Is it fully customized to support your existing workflows? If your WMS doesn’t fully meet your needs, it may be time to evaluate alternatives. Instead of piecing together a multitude of technology tools that may or may not integrate seamlessly, consider a WMS that offers complete customization to streamline your workflows and improve productivity.

Re-evaluate your facility layout

Trends change year over year, so the end of the year is an excellent time to analyze data from the current year and identify key shifts that can help you optimize your layout for the coming year. The same products that were barely in your facility before they were due out last year might be back-burner items next year, so it’s important to re-evaluate product demand and optimize your facility’s layout accordingly.

Re-evaluate vendor relationships

You can’t put a price tag on a solid business relationship, but you can put a price tag on lost revenues if a vendor isn’t meeting their end of the deal. If you’re paying premium rates to ensure that product shipments arrive in a specified number of days following order, yet shipments rarely arrive within the specified time frame, it’s a problem. You’re not only losing revenue by paying more for a service not being delivered, but you’re also potentially losing revenue from customers due to delays created in the supply chain.
When you set clear objectives, measure progress, and take strategic steps to optimize both workflows and facility layout, productivity soars. Warehouse inventory managers are under massive pressure to keep the supply chain flowing smoothly, but these tips will prepare you to meet that challenge.

1 thought on “6 Tips for Better Warehouse Inventory Management in 2017”

  1. As someone who worked for a little bit in a warehouse I think the best place to get ideas for how to make the warehouse run better is to ask the staff. They get to see what works and what doesn’t, and you can bet they know all of the tricks for how to safely shave off some time. One of the most common complaints I heard was that the pallet jacks were old and worn out. We all knew which ones were best and the others just got in the way. So, talk to the warehouse workers, what makes their job easier will probably make the warehouse more efficient.

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