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Warehouse Management Blog

Our team of Fulfilment Consultants share warehouse management best practice and advice.

4 more reasons to introduce warehouse automation

How To

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

19 March 2015

4 more reasons to automate your warehouse 4 more reasons to automate your warehouse

Continued from: 3 reasons to automate your warehouse

4. You’re losing track of your inventory

John is a warehouse operator doing put away after a delivery. He has three boxes of salt shakers, but there’s only space for two on the allocated shelf so he puts the third box in an empty space nearby and notes the change on an Excel spreadsheet. Several weeks later Mrs J orders a salt shaker and the system shows that a whole box is left in stock. John is away so Mike is sent out to pick the order, but the salt shakers aren’t where they’re normally kept on the shelf.

He spends ten minutes trying to find the item on the spreadsheet and another ten minutes looking for the right location in the warehouse. In the meantime, the Royal Mail van has been and gone so Mrs J doesn't get her salt shaker on the day she was quoted.

This is just one of many ways that inventory can get lost in a warehouse, but with automation the problem is eliminated. If locations are barcoded, it doesn’t matter where John puts the salt shakers, so long as he scans both the item and the location during put away. That way the system will know exactly what stock is where, Mike doesn't have a stressful 20 minutes scouring the warehouse, and Mrs J has her brand new salt shaker for when her children come for dinner. Everyone's a winner.

5. You want to offer better delivery options and later cut off times for next day delivery

XS-Stock automation XS-Stock automation

Every eCommerce retailer wants to provide their customers with flexible delivery options like Amazon because happy customers leave positive reviews. The reality is that being able to offer such options requires supreme warehouse processes. Every step from goods in through to packing needs to be more efficient than energy-saving light bulbs.

The only way to streamline your processes to the point where you can start to fulfil orders like Amazon is to introduce automation and reduce the reliance on humans. Our client, XS-Stock receives 7-13K orders per day at peak, 80% of which are single item orders. With automation, they went from picking 60 orders per person per hour, to 112. That kind of efficiency is what allows companies to offer more flexible delivery options.

6. You’re getting bad customer reviews

No news is good news, but bad news is terrible for eCommerce companies. When you’re competing in a crowded market, one bad review could be what pushes a customer to buy elsewhere. Another of our clients, Corset Story, boasts a 100% satisfaction rating for their service on Feefo and almost every review comments on their excellent delivery. The reason that Corset Story can enjoy such positive reviews is because they have warehouse logistics that run faster than a dog through a park due to automation.

Since their customer service team rarely have to deal with an unhappy customer, they have time to push promotions on the company Facebook page. It's a win all round for the business who have both happy customers and happy staff.

Feefo Feefo

corset story corset story

7. Performing a stocktake is costing you time and money

A stocktake may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have to slow down all processes within your warehouse that is a whole day’s worth of orders postponed and hundreds of unhappy customers. By automating your warehouse, however, orders can still go out as normal while the stocktake is occurring.

How? By using handheld scanners on a location-by-location basis. One operator works on one location and counts everything there using the scanner. The variance can then be accepted or rejected and the stock take is complete in that section.

With an automated warehouse, goods in should be so accurate that a full warehouse-wide stocktake shouldn’t have to be done very often at all. Instead, micro-stocktakes on individual locations every so often should be sufficient to ensure the stock levels remain accurate. For more on performing an eCommerce stocktake click the link.

[Related: eCommerce warehouse software: Time to invest]

Key Takeaways

>> Double the number of orders picked per person per hour

>> Put stock away anywhere so long as the item and location are scanned

>> Improve logistics to encourage better reviews and happier staff

>> Automate your warehouse to reduce the need for a warehouse-wide stocktake

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