If your business operates in retail or wholesale industries, one thing is sure: inventory is your primary asset, and you need a place to store it. It can be a type of distribution center or a warehouse.
When it comes to a warehouse, be it business-owned or third-party logistics, it will require purchasing or leasing land and facility, hiring employees, purchasing equipment, etc., to get it into an operational state. However, warehouse management does not stop there.
The success of a goods-selling business has a positive correlation with effective and efficient warehouse management.
What is warehouse management?
Broadly defined, warehouse management refers to the process of conducting control and optimization of warehouse operations. It includes all inventory-related movements, employee training, and supervision, shipment controls, etc.
To make these processes effective and efficient modern businesses integrate warehouse management systems.
What is a warehouse management system (WMS)?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is software for businesses to optimize warehouse processes. It provides real-time visibility over inventory levels and movements, sales statistics and accordingly, demand forecasts, and many more.
With the help of a warehouse management system, the manual work and human errors decrease, the accuracy of snapshots increases, and companies save a lot of time. There is also less need for continuous warehouse audits and cycle counts due to the rise in the effectiveness of timely management procedures.
Read more about inventory audits here.
Critical processes in warehouse management
Warehouse management is an integral part of supply chain activities, affecting inventory management, order fulfillment and shipping processes, etc.
Warehouse management, in its turn, includes several sub-processes, the key ones of which will be discussed following.
Inventory tracking refers to the control of stock levels, which allows you to know the exact locations of your goods, such as their place in storage, transit points, etc. It is also essential to determine whether your stock volumes are enough to meet customer orders or create optimal ordering schedules. With the business growth and expansion, the inventory turnover and volumes increase, and the tracking becomes more challenging. Despite the complications, businesses should still aim to maintain accuracy.
Picking and packing
After receiving an order from a customer, the picking and packing processes occur in the warehouse. Using a picking list, which indicates the order data, warehouse employees pick the correct goods and hand them off to the packers. Packing refers to safely and securely placing ordered goods into a box or other packing materials and adequately labeling it for the shipment.
Receiving and storing
One of the significant processes conducted in the warehouse is the receipt and storage of new inventory. After scanning each inventory item received, they are transferred to their planned location in the storage. Reasonable and adequate storing is vital to ensure that the warehouse space is optimally organized and no extra costs occur because of poor storage area management.
The final step of an inventory unit in the warehouse activities is the shipping. Usually, the shipping service-provides perform deliveries to customers, such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc. Although they pick the packages and ship them to the ordered location, the warehousing team still tracks the process.
Warehouse management principles
The most important thing to discuss is how to ensure the effectiveness of warehouse management processes. To do that, consider keeping in mind the following principles when developing warehouse management approaches.
Aim for data-driven decisions
Instead of building abstract assumptions based on nothing more than just intuitions and opinions, constantly review data, statistics, and analytical reports. Ensure that behind every decision, there is conscious, data-driven analysis. Even if there are seemingly no problems occurring, there is still a possibility that the processes are not conducted in their maximum capacity of effectiveness. So, review and use data even when there are no emergency cases.
Ensure complete supervision
There should be employees who are responsible for the overall control of the warehouse. That task is usually under the responsibility of a warehouse supervisor or the head of logistics. To increase the effectiveness of the control systems, they can initially create workflows for warehouse teams, which are trackable during daily operations. The effectiveness and efficiency of the workflows should be reviewed continuously and be updated upon the necessity. The key in supervision is to ensure that each team member is aware of their tasks and operates to the maximum level of productivity.
Be flexible and adapt to changes.
It is impossible to ensure 100% certainty and stability in business operations, including warehouse management. Considering external and internal factors, businesses should smoothly change their procedures, practices, and plans accordingly to avoid losses.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales increased dramatically.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports, online retail sales in the US alone amounted to $598 billion in 2019 and $791.7billion in 2020. It is an increase of more than 32%. So, many businesses had to update warehousing operations to be able to meet the new demand trends.
Invest in technology
Technology with a wide variety of tools helps to improve the effectiveness of warehouse management processes. Technology is a must to succeed in the modern world, from reducing human error and saving time to the generation of on-time data-driven reports and analytics.
One of the essential technological tools is the warehouse management software system. The eSwap inventory management system provides warehouse management features. It offers the centralization of data from different warehouse locations. eSwap software also allows real-time tracking of orders through the stages of picking, packing, shipping, etc.
Discover more on the official website.