10 Tips for Streamlining Warehouse Efficiency

Shipping is the number one cost in the fulfillment arena, and without a comprehensive plan for cost monitoring and optimization, retailers can easily end up being charged much more than anticipated. Fortunately, there are many ways that retailers can improve warehouse efficiency to reduce costs; one way is to control inbound and outbound freight. Click here to read the rest of the article on MultichannelMerchant.com.

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Common Retail Industry Warehousing Issues and How to Solve Them

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Warehouses are commonly used by retail businesses to store items that have been shipped to them but have not yet been moved into stores. In addition to retailers, transport businesses, manufacturers, customs, importers and exporters use warehouses as well. They may be designed to house goods of a certain type; perishable goods, for instance, are stored in refrigerated warehouses. They may be used to assemble containers for export or prepare consolidated shipments for distributions.

Despite the tremendous value warehouses provide for companies, some issues cannot be avoided altogether. In this article, we will look at some of the most pressing retail warehousing issues and how they may be solved, avoided or minimized.

Top Retail Warehousing Issues

1) Not having enough space

The amount of storage space needed for a company depends on the size and quantity of goods to be stored and length of time which storage is required. Companies aim to rent or purchase warehouses that have enough space to meet their needs, but sometimes end up ordering more merchandise than their space can accommodate or under estimating the length of time necessary. More often, the issue of space occurs as a consequence of inadequate organizational practices, such as not making efficient use of the available space or experiencing delays in implementation of goods at final destinations. Such poor organization leads to time and money being wasted on unnecessary labor and square footage.

To ensure adequate warehouse organization, a company should contract with warehouses and 3pl companies that understand the parameters of retail warehousing requirements. This way, less time will be spent locating items and in turn expedite the actual shipping process, such as using expedited logistics services. The machines used in loading and unloading should also be taken into consideration since they, too, are typically stored on-site. Counter balance machines are not very good for retail warehousing and should be rejected in favor of narrow aisle reach trucks and multi-directional forklifts, which can increase storage space by thirty and forty percent respectively.

Another important element of space management in retail warehousing is to have the place thoroughly evaluated by a professional forklift business. This can further maximize storage space. It is essential to have a facility that understands retail needs and can provide flexibility.

2) Slotting

When looking for slots to store items that have just arrived, forklift trucks often make one trip after another while scouring for space around the warehouse, wasting gas or electricity. As a result, they often end up putting their loads into the first empty slot across which they come, again resulting in disorganization. The last thing that any retail business needs or wants is disorder; they need to know exactly where something is so their customers will not have to wait for inventories to be replenished or for new products to launch.

There are numerous types of storage racks, and good retail warehouse practices involve knowing what they are and the purposes for which they may be used; these include:

  • cantilever
  • double deep
  • drive-in
  • powered mobile

Companies can also plan the use of slots, taking into account special needs for certain items as well as supply needs.

3) Discrepancies in inventory, not picking fast enough

Another common warehousing problem occurs when too much time is spent on each item because of poor management practices. When scanned mechanically, barcodes can reduce handling time for merchandise, providing order and ease of access.  For larger items and fixture or displays, pallets can be color coded in order to group together specific store configurations or marketing campaigns, thus allowing design teams to have easy access.

In conclusion, retail freight logistics and retail warehousing depends, more than anything else, on organization. With everything in its proper place and employing proper accounting and moving machines, retail warehousing can be vastly simplified, to everyone’s great satisfaction.

STC Logistics specializes in nationwide retail logistics solutions and warehousing services. We ensure not only that your items arrive on time and undamaged with our expedited logistics services, but are stored safely and scheduled with cost-efficiency and reliability. To learn more about our retail freight logistics solutions, click below.

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Retail Logistics: Why Timing is Everything

Timing is everything in the retail logistics and transportation industry. Many retail stores struggle to break even in down months and make the entirety of their annual profits in short, frenetic periods each year. Having the right products on the shelves when they are most valuable can mean life or death for any retailer, whether it’s the summer boom in lawn equipment and air conditioners at a hardware shop or having the newest titles on the shelves at a gaming outlet. Ordering too far ahead of schedule can mean as much of a loss as ordering too late—even in periods of low sales, wasted shelves equal lost profits.`

Logistics and transportation must be carefully handled at all stages for a store to achieve maximum profits. On the store’s end, this means careful pre-planning, beginning at least a few months in advance of hectic sales seasons. Important steps in retail planning include:

  • Researching products
  • Gauging potential sales
  • Developing sales and advertising strategies
  • Contacting suppliers
  • Completing negotiations
  • Arranging shipping
  • Receiving products and advertising materials
  • Shelving products and preparing displays

Several of these steps can be quite difficult without retail logistics and transportation support, but missing important products, over- or under-estimating interest in products or failing to complete negotiations and receive necessary items in a timely manner can all be devastating. Forgetting to order point-of-purchase displays for a major product until the week before the product goes on sale, for example, might make the difference between clear shelves and a full stockroom.

Holidays are of particular concern for any retailer, because as the most vital season for financial success they are also the most likely place for problems to crop up in your logistics and transportation. Perfect preparations store-side can fall apart completely if the chaos of the season overwhelms suppliers, transporters or other parts of your logistics chain. Major logistics and transportation firms fail to deliver express packages on time roughly 10% of the time and lose between 0.5% and 1% of packages every year. Those numbers become even worse during intense seasons.

Having specialists manage your logistics and transportation chain can greatly reduce the odds of delayed order completions and missing shipments. STC Logistics maintains a better than 99% on-time delivery rate to customers in locations across the nation. We offer shipping by air, sea, rail and road and can handle complex large-scale distribution and small daily shipments with equal ease. By working with over 700 logistics and transportation affiliates in and around transportation hubs across the United States, STC Logistics can manage time-sensitive shipments with high precision and reliability. To learn more about our logistics services, click the button below or contact us today for your rate quote!

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The Impact of Mobile Technologies on Logistics Solutions

Stacking Boxes-resized-600.jpgThere are many things to consider when hiring a third party logistics company today. While the basics involve utilizing air, land, or sea transportation to move goods from one point to another, there are many intricacies that are added to the process in order to increase efficiency—both for the customer and the logistics company itself. With shifting trends and the notion of new logistics technologies being ever present, there are many concepts that are improving the way freight gets moved.

Overall, the most revolutionary changes that are happening in logistics technologies today are widely due to advances in mobile logistics technologies. In the past, there were only primitive ruggedized devices that were specifically put into use for supply chain environments. Now, the lines between consumer and commercial grade equipment are becoming blurred because of new logistics technologies. This provides customers, as well as professionals, with crucial solutions to improve processes in every step of the supply chain.

Technology and Logistics in the Warehouse

The utilization of mobile logistics technologies in the warehouse has completely changed the way that companies think about setting up, as well as sorting and segregating inventory. With a single smart phone, warehouse employees are now able to:

  • View inventory counts remotely
  • Scan inventory both short and long range
  • Use voice activated commands to conduct operations hands free
  • Send information through the cloud for instant results
  • Track and trace transportation itineraries and transit times

Another warehouse trend that cloud-based logistics technologies have set is the use of complete mobile solutions. Because logistics technologies have spider-webbed into so many devices, warehouse teams can now use smart phones and tablets in combination with mobile printers. These scanning devices enable the warehouse workers to reduce the need to move back and forth to different stations in the warehouse. This eliminates issues with sorting, segregating, picking and packing, setting up RFID solutions, scanning barcodes and printing.

For the Customer

Mobile logistics technologies have made the customer end of logistics more productive than ever before. With app development at an all time high, the customer now has more information at their fingertips than ever before. These logistics technologies allow the customer to forgo contacting 3PLs directly in regards to queries such as:

  • Inventory quantities
  • Price quotes
  • Real-time transit status updates
  • Delivery times
  • Confirmation of POD

Tracking has always been a huge issue for customers until recently because there was little information available without making hard inquiries by phone. But now, trucks, trains, ships, and planes can be outfitted with GPS trackers that the customer can dial into from their smart phone to see exactly where their freight is. This allows them to not only satisfy their curiosity, but plan accordingly based on suggested arrival times.

For the Driver

Utilizing the same type of logistics technologies, truck drivers can now perform many functions with far greater efficiency. Smart phones allow drivers to accurately capture customer signatures upon delivery, track their hours, and even examine statistics about their driving performance. GPS systems can also provide real time data about traffic situations so that they know about areas that should be avoided to achieve shorter transit times.

The Wave of the Future

The smart phone based logistics technologies available today are completely changing the way that everyone thinks about logistics. It is even paving the way for other advances in the future such as 3D printing and greater use of green solutions. For now, 3PLs and customers alike can enjoy the way that mobile logistics technologies has helped to improve the process overall.

STC Logistics utilizes the latest in technology for all logistics solutions. Contact us today to get a quote for your next shipment!

Photo credit: manufacturingdigital.com