The core of any retail business is its logistics. Goods flow from different suppliers or factories to the warehouses and end up in retail stores for purchase by customers. A proper logistics plan ensures that costs are kept low, delays are eliminated, and store shelves remain stocked with your products. One kink in the chain could result in loss of revenue and productivity, which is why it’s essential to keep operations running smoothly.
Logistical requirements differ from business to business, and there’s no single rule book to follow. A logistics specialist must draw from their well of knowledge and experience to craft and refine a company’s logistics chain. Tools such as warehouse equipment rental also allow businesses some flexibility when adjusting for the ebb and flow of consumer demand.
Optimize the floor plan
This stage is best done during the planning phase, as retooling an existing warehouse’s floor plan can result in delays and cost overruns if executed poorly. If you’re starting with a new warehouse, you have a blank canvas to work with, and you can plan the layout to your heart’s content.
That said, it’s not impossible to reorganize an existing warehouse. The goal of a reorganization project is to improve safety and efficiency. The layout must be logical. For instance, a sample layout can start at the receiving area where inventory is delivered. Next, the goods are moved to a storage area where they wait until they are needed and moved to a packaging zone and finally shipped out to stores.
If an organization project is not possible at this time, one quick fix you can implement right away is signs and labels. Properly marking and labeling specific areas in the warehouse can help streamline processes and minimize delays. Once the layout has been finalized, employees can then refer to signs to determine zone assignments.
Signs and labels are particularly helpful if you rely on a temporary workforce or if the facility is new. Stickers aren’t just for zone identification, however. Use signs to identify workplace hazards and to remind employees of important rules such as the use of safety gear.
Inventory is usually organized according to velocity (i.e., how fast the goods are pulled out of the warehouse). Ideally, you’ll have data to help determine which goods move slowly and which ones are in high demand.
Fast-moving goods are ideally placed in a central location near the receiving and shipping zones, while slow-moving goods can be relegated to far spaces and corners. Another factor you’ll have to consider is the size and shape of the inventory. You might need to use specialized equipment to store and move specific goods, so any machines or tools will have to be parked nearby.
Logistics management can be overwhelming, so focus on one or two small things that you can implement immediately. The most important thing to remember is to review your warehouse processes regularly. Tiny changes to a single process can have a significant impact on the entire chain, so don’t be afraid to experiment.