The warehousing and storage industry has a combined revenue of $20 billion, yet according to Hoover’s, it is a largely fragmented market with 20 companies controlling almost 30 percent of the market.
So how do smaller players become large ones? What can your operations do today to better manage your facility? How can you make incremental changes without creating stressors to your workforce or process? Here are five ways to start:
Get the right warehouse management software (WMS)
The right WMS for one company may not be the right choice for your company. Research to find a WMS that will give you long-term benefits such as greater customer transparency, more accuracy in document and inventory tracking, real-time notifications, stronger compliance tracking, production analytics, and more. The investment will give you the tools to make your existing resources work more efficiently, give you greater capacity for growth, and improve customer satisfaction.
Strengthen your relationships with inspectors and auditors
Compliance and regulations are very real concerns for any warehouse operator because policies can change quickly. You may only hear about them in the media or from your partners. Keep on top of changes by maintaining a respectful working relationship with auditors and warehouse inspectors. They will get you advance notice of any changes so you are not surprised upon inspection, which could lead to disastrous downtime.
Strengthen your relationships with your suppliers
For many of the same reasons why you want to have a good relationship with your warehouse inspectors and auditors, you also want to look into how well you are positioned with your suppliers. This will help prevent any unnecessary disruptions, such as delays in shipping, which can be costly on your end. Create a one-on-one relationship with a point person and keep in touch on a regular basis. Make sure they are dependable in getting you information you need far in advance.
Make sure your inventory is organized
A chaotic warehouse is a warehouse that is not going to grow. If you are not organized, your picking will slow, which will be disastrous for your overall process. The best plan is to organize with efficiency in mind: Group products with a high rate of shipping in the front with those that are slower to move in the back. Keep products that tend to ship together close to one another rather than having them at opposite ends of your facility. Here’s where a good WMS comes to play: It will introduce tracking that will keep orders straight and provide analytics to show areas for improvement.
Make your contracts and invoices transparent
Make sure all accounts receivable terms are clear and upfront on all your contacts and invoices. You don’t want to slow your process through lengthy debates over misunderstandings about shipping dates or order specifications. Make sure you, your suppliers, and your customers are all on the same page by introducing transparency to all agreements. This will obviously better your relationships, but it will also prevent any disruptions to your business.
Those are our tips — What are yours? Share some helpful tips on best practices you can implement today to keep your business steady and poised for growth.