It is well known that the face of retail is changing. The failures of Woolworths, BHS, Toys R Us, and Maplins have all been attributed to the rise of online shopping. Most recently, CarpetRight and Moss Bros were forced to close stores after issuing profit warnings. Once we bemoaned the loss of the High St – now it seems that retail parks are under threat as well.
eCommerce driving the future of warehouses
Whilst the loss of retail jobs is not good, recent changes benefit those companies that do sell online, pushing demand through their warehouses. Over recent months we have worked with a number of clients to help them adapt their operations to take advantage of changing trends.
Triggers for change come in a number of formats
The shift toward selling directly to consumers via a website could change order profiles and growth might overwhelm the warehouse;
The challenge of moving to a new warehouse might exceed the skillset of the management team or;
A warehouse that previously ran well may no longer be able to cope without a WMS
In most cases we see a common thread: the business loses stock integrity, the warehouse management team is overwhelmed, additional resource is brought in to cope, which increases costs, pick accuracy and service decline. Result: the sales team lose faith in the operations team and the company descends into chaos.
Avoid costly warehouse mistakes
There are a number of key principles businesses can adopt to prevent these issues:
The warehouse layout should be reviewed and updated to reflect changes such as those to the order profile. Accession rates will change and order sizes are often much smaller. Where it previously made sense to issue a full order to each picker, the introduction of batch picking may be necessary to maximise efficiency.
When in crisis mode, procedures normally seen as ancillary to the core operation are too often neglected. Stock integrity and control may lapse as staff are redeployed and more agency staff means more errors. Once a depot loses stock integrity, the decline can be rapid. To prevent this, warehouse processes should be reviewed to ensure the stock record remains accurate at all times. In many businesses, the warehouse is not trusted to receive, adjust, or despatch stock - “Why do they need a PC in the warehouse?” - so updating the stock record is delayed by people who do not understand the importance of ensuring its accuracy.
There is a huge difference between running a warehouse that has been operating the same way for many years, setting one up from scratch and reviewing one with problems. The right person for one of those tasks is often the wrong person for the other two. Planning the layout, flows and profiles; calculating the optimal racking type, storage media and picking processes; and developing the management structure. These are all tasks requiring specialist knowledge and complex planning.
YOUR WAREHOUSE SOLUTION
Is your warehouse unable to keep up with new retail trends? Get in touch to see how our warehouse consultants can help your operations adapt to changes without causing costly mistakes. Call us on 01327 349090 to speak to one of our warehouse consultants or CONTACT US WITH YOUR WAREHOUSE CONSULTANCY NEEDS