Ask any business owner and they will tell you that one of the most important skills in business is organization. When you are running an e-commerce business, organization is paramount. While every warehouse is different, there are certain strategies and techniques that work best to optimize the storage in your space.
Whether you are just getting started in the e-commerce world, or your warehouse simply needs an upgrade, these ideas will help you set up an organized and efficient system to keep your warehouse running smoothly.
1. Have A Consistent System
Before you purchase a bunch of shelves and pallets, take some time to plan out an organization system that makes sense to you. You can’t have an organized fulfillment warehouse without a strong foundation and plan before you begin. Everyone’s brains work differently so it is important to have a system in place that makes sense to you and your employees. Experts suggest a simple organization system such as using a numbering system or putting things together alphabetically.
It may be tempting to organize things by category, but that can get tricky depending on your product and making the choice of which items go in which category. Keeping things direct and simple will help things stay as organized as possible.
2. Invest In A Quality Warehouse Management System
While physical storage is important for your e-commerce warehouse, the digital organization system is just as important if not arguably more important. Experts advise testing out a few different warehouse management systems to find the one that works best for your product and the size of your business. Ask other e-commerce business owners about the pros and cons of the management system they have been using.
Before you start stacking shelves and organizing bins, make sure you keep track of all of your inventory and have it entered into your online system. It is important to have numerous people monitoring the management system to catch any errors as well as keeping an eye on inventory entering and leaving the warehouse. Optimizing storage in your e-commerce warehouse is made easier with the use of pallet inverters, streamlining your inventory management processes.
3. Label Everything
When walking through your warehouse, you should be able to see everything clearly. Labeling shelves and products is an important step in optimizing storage in your warehouse. Printed labels are best so that handwriting does not have to be interpreted.
Remember to make sure that your labels are heat and water-resistant as even temperature-controlled warehouses can cause labels to fade over time. Having a map of the warehouse is also important to display for efficiency purposes when searching for products.
4:. Use Space Efficiently
It can be tempting to want to fill every single aisle and shelf of your warehouse to optimize the amount of product you are exporting. However, experts advise that having space to move about freely is just as important as how full the shelves are in the warehouse.
When measuring space, make sure to take into account items such as conveyor belts and any machinery that may need to make its way up and down the aisles. You also need to leave some empty shelves for excess product and room for growth. Even something as simple as people walking up and down the aisle and having room to pass one another needs to be taken into account when measuring space between shelves. Don’t forget the importance of warehouse safety when designing your floor plan for your space.
5. Use Stackable and Movable Bins
The bins you choose to use in your warehouse are an integral part of setting up your warehouse. Using stackable bins throughout your warehouse will allow you to easily access your product while also maximizing your space.
Depending on the size of your products you may need different size bins. However, you can still stack the sizes that fit together to keep things neat and organized. It can also be beneficial to have bins with wheels for easy movement and access to heavier items. Mixing and matching bins shapes and sizes is not suggested as it can make things appear disorganized and waste space for storage.
6. Use the Same Shipping Containers Whenever Possible
Once your shelves are set up with products and ready to be picked, your employees will begin packaging items for shipping. Something that takes up more space than you might expect in a warehouse is the shipping containers. Whenever possible, using the same size shipping containers is beneficial to take the choice out of the equation. When an employee has to stop and choose a different container for each product it slows down the entire process.
7. Make Designated Work Stations
One of the more common mistakes warehouse owners make when setting up their warehouse is leaving out workstations. Even if it is a small standing desk, having a workstation will prevent items from being misplaced as well as provide a spot for your employees to work efficiently and effectively. Without a designated workstation, employees tend to congregate in aisles and leave items misplaced. Training new employees on where to work and how the system works in the warehouse is also an important part of keeping things organized and running smoothly.
As you are working to set up an optimal design for your e-commerce warehouse, remember that planning needs to be the first step before anything is purchased or moved around. It can be beneficial to visit other warehouses that sell similar products to find inspiration and ideas for your own warehouse.
The other important component of optimizing storage in your warehouse is keeping up with the technology. If your management system is out of date, or there is a more efficient way to move product, your competitors are likely taking advantage of those things. Don’t be afraid to change things up if there is a better option out there. After all, your ultimate goal is to run a successful e-commerce business and the best way to do that is to have the most organized warehouse space possible.