To get the best out of your operations you need to work closely with senior managers, operation managers, warehouse staff and IT professionals to align around your strategic objectives. This helps you find out what systems and processes are needed throughout your business to meet the needs of your daily warehouse operations.
If you are scaling you should map your current and future processes. You should consider how you are managing your operations today and how that might change as you scale. How do you see the management of operations in three or five years down the line? What volume of orders will you need to fulfil? How will you optimise warehouse space?
It’s important to include those who work in your warehouse in discussions on any possible change of processes or expansion. If all decisions in regards to the warehouse are left to someone in head office that has little knowledge of the inner workings of the warehouse, it could result in problems and bottlenecks for years to come.
Know your goals
You should know your internal objectives in the short term and the long term, which will make everything else become easier. Maybe you want to reduce labour costs or maximise storage? Or want to change the facility layout so that you’re making the best of your resources.
With systems and processes already in place, it can be hard to know exactly what could improve your operations. After all, you rarely get the chance to have a proper look under the bonnet of other e-commerce operations, so it’s difficult to know how well you are doing and how efficient you really are. But by mapping out your existing systems and processes you will be able to see where you can improve.
How can a Warehouse Management System (WMS) help?
With a WMS you will be able to tweak, reconfigure and optimise your operations. Here’s just some of the ways a WMS helps:
WMS enables you to control and move stock within your warehouses, including the tracking and planning of all stock. You can see exactly what stock you have, and where it sits, in real time. With a WMS you can also map your warehouse comprehensively with logical grouping and sequencing of location to optimise flow.
A WMS enhances your fulfilment by allowing the picking and despatch of customer orders quickly and accurately. Your warehouse operatives can move freely around the warehouse using mobile hardware to carry out picking. As it’s all recorded on the system you are able to replenish when pick face quantities fall below defined minimum pick face quantities that can be defined by you.
WMS eliminates the need for laborious processes such as manually sorting and printing orders, and allows your staff to be trained in more efficient practices. For example, operators will be able to see customised packing suggestions on-screen; reduces decision making at the pack bench and increases despatch efficiency.
For a wider view of things to consider before implementing a WMS, download our free e-book ’11 things to consider before you implement an e-commerce Warehouse Management System (WMS)’ here: