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Disorganization on the Shelves: What’s Missing From Your Warehousing Processes?

Blog: Apriso Blog

Retail and manufacturing have taken the lead in the evolution of warehousing practices. Some larger companies have even developed their own proprietary protocols. However, all businesses do not have this luxury. Development, implementation, and execution of a good warehousing process can be a daunting task. There are several areas to check on the way to avoid disorganization on warehouse shelves, regardless of the industry and inventory size. Five objectives covering management, software, set-up, shelving materials, and employee training must be addressed. Here is a look at what might be missing from your warehousing processes.

Standardized Management Procedures

Every business can construct a warehouse management program with standard procedures. This offers an opportunity to tailor the business model to consumer demands. The key is to implement a process that is flexible enough without losing the core blueprint. This enhances uniformity, maximizes inventory space, ensures accurate order picking, and addresses customer service and returns. A new buzzword in warehousing is “lean”. The results of lean procedures have translated into an efficiency boon for nearly every industry that embraces it. As new paradigms for warehousing are adopted, everyone from management to the end users need to embrace the new approaches and procedures.

Warehousing Software

There are different types of Warehousing software options out there, also known as WMS (Warehouse Management System). What works for small businesses will not scale for larger enterprise organizations, so ensure the choice is the appropriate one for your business model. Pricing is another consideration with figures in the thousands of dollars. To maximize the ROI, look for versatility as you position for future growth regardless of the business size. Ideal packages will have some form of technical support availability by live chat or phone. The next requirement is integration with existing infrastructure, including cloud and mobile devices. While most say they have this capability, doing validation of these claims before purchasing is critical. Finally, it must be user-friendly to cultivate a positive culture and to not intimidate employees. Once in place, it will bolster the entire warehouse best practices will mitigate disorganization in the shelves and in the system.

Warehouse Set-up

One of the quickest ways a warehouse gets unorganized, is when it has an inadequate set-up. A floor plan that addresses, inventory, equipment, spare parts, and access will go a long way in avoiding this stumbling block. If the warehouse space is new, this step will not be nearly as cumbersome in comparison to established spaces. Put the configuration on paper based on the square footage available. It will serve double duty for any changes that need to be made because of growth or overstock issues. Use the entire space including to the ceiling. If the required equipment such as order pickers, forklifts, ASRS, etc., are not already included, an investment in them is needed.

Adequate Shelving Material

Sturdy and durable are the two most important characteristics of shelving material. It should also be easy to assemble and disassemble while providing easy access to reach stock and for cleaning. The dimensions are important as they should accommodate boxes for diverse inventory items. A built-in labeling plaque is also required to complement any management system. The right shelving will keep the warehouse organized and free from clutter.

Continued Employee Training

The best-laid procedures will falter without relevant and on-going employee training. They should be familiar with the equipment, product coding, and how to report issues in a consistent manner. What is generally missing from every warehouse is a culture of empowerment and accountability. Training is a powerful tool that tells workers their input and efforts are part of a team. The activities should foster feedback and suggestions for making the best practices exceed expectations. This will embrace all members of the organization and foster employee empowerment, resulting in fewer errors, higher accuracy, and no accidents.

When managers are requesting additional warehouse space such as an outside unit, the disorder you hoped to avoid has begun. More examples include improper inventory slotting, location of unpopular items, and inventory reported as in-stock when it is not. These are the most common symptoms of warehouse disorganization that can be avoided by employing the tactics discussed here.

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