Outgrowing your warehouse is a difficult time to face because moving can be such a big upheaval. In our experience, however, we have noticed that a lot of eCommerce companies think they have to move to a new warehouse long before they actually do. Why is this? It’s because they aren’t fully optimising the space they currently have in their eCommerce warehouse.
Let’s say you are currently spending £10,000 per month for your warehouse and you decide to increase it to a new plot that costs £14,000. Choosing to make some small improvements in your first warehouse that allow you to operate for another 5 months then that is a saving of £20,000.
For all those companies that have a move on their mind, this blog post is for you.
1. Dynamic locations
Having locations that can be moved may seem like a curious thing but the benefits are bountiful. Being able to move your locations means that when a fast-selling line of stock comes into the warehouse you can rearrange your locations so that this stock is located nearer to the pack benches for faster despatch.
Fixed locations give a sense of finite capacity within a warehouse which can be deceiving, so trying dynamic locations could solve a lot of problems.
2. No room for gaps!
Here comes another mad idea - putting multiple stock keeping units (SKUs) in one location. What? How about putting single SKUs in multiple locations? Madness! Well, not quite, it’s actually just very logical. A nice, neat layout is perfect for a retail store because customers need to find what they’re after visually.
In a warehouse, it’s a different story, especially with a warehouse management system implemented. So long as you scan the item and the location, you can put a SKU absolutely anywhere in the warehouse. Got a free spot by the fire exit? Scan it in and that will do. The right warehouse system will track every item’s location so that it can be found again when needed for an order.
3. Rip out your racking
A lot of companies use that ugly metal racking that harks back to the days of pure retailing when eCommerce was just an unfulfiled wish in someone’s mind. This stuff is great for handling bulk stock but an eCommerce warehouse should be all about the pick face, not bulk storage.
To save on space, tear out that clunky old racking and try something a little more sleek and better designed for eCommerce. We recommend correx boxes that can be easily stacked and rearranged.
4. Smart layout
We won’t say that it’s all in your head, but the majority of the time a warehouse is deemed unsuitable simply because navigating around it is a chore. By optimising pick routes and designing the layout of your warehouse with flow in mind, you will instantly start to see that what was an awkward space is actually more suitable than you’d thought.
What we see far too often is clients with warehouses that boast high ceilings and racking that stretches right up to the roof. Yes, you can fit more stock on tall shelves but to do put away and picking from these locations requires specialist equipment (which take space to store).
By building a mezzanine instead you can still make use of the high spaces but in a way that actually enables you to pick - a factor that is pretty darn important when it comes to eCommerce fulfilment.
6. Inventory management
This in an important one for eCommerce companies with a vast number of SKUs in the warehouse. With so many items lying around and so many orders coming through, it can often be hard to keep track of what items are now obsolete and just taking up space.
The best way to identify this is by implementing warehouse management software that can generate reports on what items have not been moving for some time in the warehouse. These SKUs can then be dealt with and the space freed up for stock that adds value to the company.
[Related: 9 steps to perfect stock control]
This one won’t necessarily apply to everyone but for those it does apply to it will help considerably. Consider how many different package sizes you use to despatch your orders. This is often overlooked but the packaging for orders does take up a considerable amount of space in the warehouse.
As such, keeping the number of variations as low as possible (without sacrificing protection of the item) will help save space.
8. Detach the office
Again this might sounds like another crazy idea to eCommerce companies who rely so heavily on having the office close but if the space can be used for storage then it’s time to cut the ties. A lot of companies keep the office nearby so that customer services can communicate easily with the warehouse for problem orders, but if you implement the right software in your warehouse you won’t need to have your office next door because the processes will be automated.
This is a really nifty storage solution that we found out about recently and if you’re looking to save space in your warehouse then these guys are worth looking in to. There aren’t many words that could explain their process better than this video so here it is:
It’s important to weigh out the cost of moving to a new warehouse, on top of the logistics and management of it, compared to the cost of implementing some smart solutions to save space. So before you sign the lease on a new warehouse, try out the above suggestions first and see if they solve your problem, or at least postpone the move.
If you'd like to know more about getting the ultimate eCommerce warehouse, download our eBook now.
Author: Jess Lawrence