Inventory Insights: Small Business Warehouse Logistics and Distribution Smarts

Inventory Management

Inventory control is an aspect of your business that can sometimes get overlooked or maybe an area where you don’t feel that you have the level of control that you need and want.

There are many businesses, such as Hudson Bearings, who have invested in developing a warehouse logistics and distribution strategy that allows them to provide better customer service and hopefully improves the bottom line at the same time.

Achieving an efficient flow

The ultimate goal of a warehouse manager is to ensure that they manage to achieve an efficient and timely flow of products both in and out of their warehouse facility.

This inevitably involves a fair amount of plate spinning to keep everything together, from checking that orders are fulfilled and that stock levels are checked constantly, to making sure that the layout of the building lends itself to optimizing performance.

Add in the need to ensure that labor and overhead costs are kept under control in order to ensure a level of profitability is obtained, and you soon see that a warehouse manager has to be an expert plate spinner and real hands-on professional.

You can’t always expect one person to achieve all of these things on their own, or not for a sustained period given the workload involved, which is why it makes sense to look at some of the logistics tools available, such as software, that can help things run smoothly.

Automate your data collection

It is not easy to achieve a totally paperless scenario in a warehouse operation, with dockets and other bits of paperwork being an almost inevitable part of the process, but aiming to automate as much of your data collection as possible, is a move that should pay dividends.

Manually writing down important numbers and information on pads is almost certainly a recipe for some sort of disaster or at least a breakdown in the process somewhere at some point. Your aim should be to try and dispense with the manual writing and look at automatic data collection using barcodes and related technology.

Having mobile computers with bar code scanners at the receiving dock will mean that inventory is updated in real time and it should help to avoid the sort of mistakes that can happen when you are writing down data and needing to input it later.

Asset tracking and warehouse management

If you get to talk to a business who have already implemented an automated system, there is a fair chance that they will have done so because they understand the relationship between controlling inventory, fulfillment and shipping costs, is the recipe for a successful operation.

When you employ asset tracking combined with a warehouse management system that is designed for your needs, this should result in providing the level of automation required to be able to maximize your warehouse productivity levels.

Interaction between the different components that combine to make your business operation work and the warehouse run smoothly and efficiently, is what you are aiming to attain, and the best way of doing that is often through investing in a system that simplifies and automates the various steps.

Prioritizing your stock

A fair percentage of businesses who have a warehouse operation tend to find that they have a range of products which outsell others by a fair margin.

Some people refer to this as the 20/80 rule. It is where about 20% of your merchandise will actually account for about 80% of your sales.

If this is something that applies to your business and you can readily identify the quick and regular sellers amongst your stock, it can help you to prioritize your inventory access to reflect this.

If you are constantly needing to pack and ship and certain range of goods more than others, it would be a good strategy to prioritize this stock in your warehouse setup, so that you can pack and ship your best-selling items as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Recognizing and predicting what stock will be moving off the shelves quickly can help you to organize your facility to meet this anticipated level of demand and keep customers happy with a rapid response to their orders.

A system that suits you

You may be selling the same products as some other rival companies or have a similar range to sell, but in many ways, no two businesses are the same.

That is why you need to design an inventory management system that is unique to you.

Your inventory management system doesn’t even have to be that complex; it just has to work.


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