Ecommerce and globalization are changing the way people shop and do business. So it’s only natural that industries learn to adapt and respond to the rise in consumer demand. That includes increasing production, creating adequate storage solutions, and offering suitable delivery options.
In a nutshell, businesses need to invest in comprehensive warehouse services.
It has become a crucial aspect that can no longer be overlooked.
But more than that, they need to know how to manage it all. Warehouse operations management is helping to optimize business growth. Conversely, brands that do not plan for such developments are at risk of disappointing customers.
Effective warehouse management is challenging, especially because Amazon and Walmart have set the bar high. Consumers are now accustomed to quick, cheap deliveries. And in order for your business to remain competitive, you need to do the same.
The success of your business relies on meeting customer expectations. And that means running seamless operations. 80% of consumers claim that their purchasing decisions are influenced by shipping costs and speed, second after price.
What does that mean for you as a business owner?
This is the ideal opportunity to improve your business offerings, meet customer expectations, manage your resources, cut costs, boost sales, and increase revenue. And to do all that, you need effective warehouse operations management.
Let’s take it from the top, shall we?
What is warehouse operations management?
Warehouse operations management uses systematic processes to maintain order and improve the efficiency of a warehouse. That means organizing, controlling, and utilizing resources wisely, such as staff, materials, equipment, and technology. Goods need to be acquired, developed, and delivered to clients.
Enterprise operations management takes a broader perspective. It incorporates several aspects, such as supply chain, manufacturing, production, quality assurance, etc. However, each plays a vital role in the overall running of the business. But it’s a plausible solution for big businesses, such as wholesalers, retailers, auto manufacturers, and much more.
Consider, for example, supply chain operation management in the auto industry. It manages the flow of raw materials and parts through various processes that will transform them into the final product- a car. It streamlines the business’s supply-side activities to gain a competitive advantage and maximize customer value.
Important parts of operations management
There are numerous operations management examples being used in the business world. Common aspects include:
Like every other aspect of your business, you will need a foolproof plan to ensure that operations remain optimal within your warehouse. But as mentioned earlier, the driving force behind warehouse operations is to meet customers’ needs. Operations management planning is an essential part of the equation.
It involves devising plans and strategies to utilize space, labor, and equipment efficiently. But more importantly, procedures, workflows, and policies are developed to enhance overall warehouse functions, including receiving, storing, picking, packing, shipping, returns, etc.
If you want to seize opportunities and meet challenges head-on, you need a strategic operations management plan that aligns with your business goals. In order to develop the perfect one for your business:
- What objectives do you want to achieve?
- Describe processes that will help meet them
- Evaluate space requirements
- List additional resources that will be required, such as equipment, software, capital, employees, etc. necessary for meeting the objective.
2. The arrangement of warehouse infrastructure
To optimize warehouse operations, you need to ensure that everything within the warehouse is arranged in a way that facilitates
- internal operations
- provides enough adequate space for receiving, storage, loading/unloading, etc.
- offers enough working space to staff members
This is an essential aspect of production and operations management. By designating and labeling areas of the warehouse for specific processes, workflows can be organized and managed.
Common areas that a warehouse needs to allocate are:
For optimal space utilization and efficiency, there must be complete visibility about storage locations so that specific items can be pinpointed at any time. And for that, you will need to employ a comprehensive labeling system using Row, Shelf, and Bin allocations.
3. Developing efficient racking designs
To maximize the use of warehouse space, you need to use the right racking designs. Decide what needs to be placed where (floor storage, vertical storage, racks, etc.) depending on the type of good, its dimensions, the pattern of distribution, etc.
4. Managing incoming stock
Products need to be checked and logged as they are received. They may be put away in the correct storage locations or packed for dispatch without further storage.
There should be enough space to receive and temporarily house newly delivered stock without the risk of damage. Moreover, employees should know where products need to be stored so that procedures are streamlined.
5. Organizing and storing inventory
The most popular or quick-moving SKUs should be strategically placed so that they can be transported as quickly as possible and support FIFO (First In, First Out) ideology. Furthermore, ones that are easily mistaken for each other should be separated.
6. Utilizing asset tracking solutions for inventory
Digital barcode operations are the easiest ways to manage inventory and track the movement of inventory from the moment it arrives at a warehouse until it reaches its final destination. Mobile scanners and barcodes minimize the need for paper while optimizing accuracy during booking, picking, packing, and shipping stock.
7. Having the proper equipment
A successful warehouse operation means investing in the best equipment and keeping them maintained.
8. Picking, packing, and shipping orders appropriately
To keep your business profitable, you need to ensure that the right orders are picked, packed, and shipped as quickly as possible to the right person.
Your picking system will depend upon the type of order: single order, batch picking, zone picking, or wave picking.
You need to invest in the best, most cost-effective packaging materials, from different sized shipping boxes to protective packaging products such as packing peanuts, bubble wrap, shredded paper, air pillows, etc.
More importantly, you need to implement a system that will optimize the whole process and save costs.
Once orders are sent out, ‘shipping confirmation’ and ‘tracking’ emails should be sent.
9. Selecting optimal delivery options
Logistics and transportation expenses add up fairly quickly. If not controlled, they can take a sizable chunk out of each sales dollar. You need to analyze shipping expenses with the overall cost of doing business.
10. Monitoring overall warehouse performance
Optimization is a continual process so that you can improve operations and overcome any shortcomings. But that means monitoring current strategies and identifying processes that are not meeting customer expectations.
You need to have a unified front and involve employees in strategic discussions to ensure they understand their work and state any issues that need to be changed.
Importance of operations management
Companies are now using operations management software to automate tasks, improve performance, and reduce errors. Common ones include WMS (Warehouse Management System), WES (Warehouse Execution Software), or WCS (Warehouse Control Software). However, business owners need to select operations automation tools that align with their business’s needs and objectives.
But no matter what they decide on at the end of the day, companies can acquire the following benefits:
- Inventory control and management
- Enhance productivity and ROI
- Improve tracking systems
- Meet and exceed customer expectations
- Fosters automation operations
Your business depends on a warehouse that is efficient and cost-effective. Introducing robust warehouse operations management systems can help you remain a step ahead of the competition. From streamlining tasks to operations automation, you’re ensuring you remain strong and thriving in the world of business.