It’s a fact that retailers are turning away from their old brick-and-mortar stores and putting their focus on ecommerce. The good news about this is that instead of having to spend enormous amounts of time and money on projecting the right image in a physical space, goods for sale are displayed on a website and stored in a warehouse until being shipped directly to the customer. It’s a new landscape that has many advantages, not least of which is a streamlined buying experience from the comfort of a customer’s home. But for the seller, this new marketplace presents some challenges, and the most urgent of those is warehouse management. For a warehouse to work as smoothly and efficiently as possible, optimizing, or making best use of, the storage area is vitally important.
Organizing the storage area is as important as managing the inventory. More than just making the best use of the space, it means knowing exactly where everything is and being able to get to it when you need to. This may sound simple, but it can be a very complicated process, especially in a large facility. When goods are stored well, however, fulfillment times are minimized and profit margins maximized. Almost a science, this warehouse organization has a name in the industry: slotting.
How slotting is put into practice
Slotting refers to the organization of the warehouse – where everything is placed. For it to be done well, there has to be knowledge of both the items being stored and the needs of the business that is selling them. While the process essentially entails strategically organizing items so that a minimal amount of space is used, consideration also has to be given to getting to them when they’re needed. Thus, items that move the quickest will be placed in the most accessible areas, while those that don’t can be put on high shelves or way in the back. Likewise, it makes sense for items that are similar, or frequently sold together, to be near each other. Essentially, it’s all about being able to pick products for orders in the shortest possible time and speeding up order fulfillment.
As would be expected, there’s more than one way for inventory slotting to be done. Goods can be sorted and stored according to their Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), product type, purchase order (PO), item size, or weight. But whatever system is used, organizing a lot of items is a daunting task. To make it easier, the answer is to use a warehouse management system (WMS). This software not only arranges slotting for you, but it can also take care of your other warehouse operations.
The importance of getting slotting right
Warehouses are more than just storage places, of course. The goods they hold are moved about all the time. Either they’re being pulled – picked – for an order, or they’re being relocated to another part of the facility for one reason or the other. It’s all about being able to get to things when they’re needed as quickly as possible.
Let’s look at the ways a good slotting system assists in good warehouse management:
Goods are easy to get to when needed
Slotting can be organized in whatever way is best for your business; it all depends on your needs. Rather than storing items wherever there’s space, having a system that lets you know where everything is makes the picking process a breeze. Depending on your business, this organization could be based on the characteristics of the items, their movements, their purchase orders, or anything else that works best for you. In the end, well-thought-through slotting means quicker fulfillment with less damage for less money.
More storage space is available
Warehousing can be expensive, so it stands to reason that every inch of space should be used to its maximum potential. A good slotting plan will do that. Plus good organization usually means that more space opens up. It’s just another cost-saving benefit.
Order fulfillment is streamlined
Making sure that pickers can get to items for an order as quickly and efficiently as possible is the essence of efficient fulfillment. You can think of it like books in a library: areas are designated for different genres, but within each genre the books are in alphabetical order; that’s how they’re found. The same principle applies to a warehouse, only here items are organized according to product type, SKU, PO, size, or weight. When the exact storage location of everything is known, the best and quickest picking route can be put together.
Products are safer
When slotting is thought through properly, delicate items will be stored in a way that gives them the most protection, and heavy ones will be placed in a way that prevents them from falling down.
How DEAR’s WMS can help your slotting and warehouse management go up a notch – or two
DEAR’s WMS has all the features that ensure your warehouse operations run smoothly and efficiently. To make the system even more so, it integrates seamlessly with DEAR Inventory. This way, you get complete oversight of your stock and can make sure you always have enough of it. Plus, your fulfillment can be streamlined even more.
Here’s how DEAR’s WMS makes your warehousing better:
https://youtu.be/ne-TuoRfKH0 Please embed DEAR Video
Putaway means putting items away in the warehouse after they’ve been delivered by the vendor or manufacturer. To achieve efficient putaway, DEAR has a wireless scanner. With it, a quick scan of each item as it’s unloaded sends product information directly to the DEAR’s WMS, where it’s instantly checked against the PO. In addition, if there’s a discrepancy in the order, you’ll know right away. DEAR can also issue a barcode for each item.
After goods from vendors have been checked for accuracy, DEAR’s WMS scans and assesses them for size, color, material, or whatever other criteria has been chosen for the slotting system, and automatically assigns the products to the correct storage location. This is done in accordance with slotting that’s already been worked out by the WMS. It’s a system that’s fast and saves time.
Guided walk paths
DEAR’s software can produce guided walk paths for putaway by taking all the information it holds about the slotting and working out the fastest, shortest, most cost-efficient route round the warehouse. You can see how useful that is.
DEAR’s WMS lets you access information about where any item is at any time from any electronic device: desktop, laptop, epad or cellphone. Type in a barcode, and the system will tell you exactly where that item is stored and how many are left in stock. You can even integrate this capability into your online store. What that means is that a customer checking out your site can be told if an item is out of stock, low in stock or readily available. It not only keeps you in the loop, it keeps your customers in the loop as well.
Picking done right
Picking – or collecting items for an order – can be done per order or in bulk for several orders at the same time. This makes perfect sense if several customers are asking for the same thing. DEAR’S WMS can assimilate all these needs and work out the best picking list, letting the pickers know exactly where to go for items and the number to pull, plus, as mentioned, the best route round the warehouse to collect them. Can the picking process get any easier?
Printed shipping labels
DEAR has a part to play here as well. With information it has about the order and its customer, the software can print the correct shipping label in a jiffy. It’s another helpful step to get orders out correctly as speedily as possible.
To summarize, DEAR’s WMS can help you manage entire warehouse operations, from receiving, slotting, putaway, picking, stocktaking, and stock transfer to printing shipping labels. By integrating the software into your website, potential customers can instantly know that something they want is in stock and not be disappointed. It all adds up to your customers being satisfied and yourself being satisfied, and that’s because your operation is running in tip-top form.
Want to know more about DEAR’s systems? Call one of our experts today.