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Peoplevox Updates

How Amazon layout their warehouses

Leo Connolly
  • 28 November 2019
  • 4 min read

Organising your warehouse like a shop is damaging to your customer experience.

Get organised, they say. Have your ducks in a row. When it comes to warehouse arrangement, perhaps not…

Whilst all traditional thinking might suggest that having your shelves and stock neatly arranged, with all the grey T-shirts in one place, all the yoga mats another, a third place especially for avocado de-stoners, would be the sensible and obvious solution to remember where things are and therefore work faster, recent innovation, and a bit of lateral thinking has totally debunked the “shop front mentality” layout.

 

Two common complaints of growing businesses in e-commerce:

  1. We are running out of space in the warehouse and need to move to a larger facility.
  2. Pickers keep picking the wrong items

 

The solution? Embrace Chaos.

Using a Dynamic Location System in your Warehouse, or “Chaotic Storage” as our friends at Amazon call it, is the warehouse methodology that says so long as it’s recorded in the system, and so long as all the items and locations are scanned every time, you can put out and move any SKU to any location, anywhere in the warehouse. This includes having multiple SKUs in the same location, and having the same SKU in as many different locations as you like.

Madness? Carnage? Just doesn’t look right…? Seriously sensible.

1: Running out of space

We visit a lot of warehouses (surprisingly enough), and to our well-trained eye, despite how full they may look, it is very rare a warehouse is actually at full capacity.

Indeed, by fixing items to specific locations or assigning areas for specific items, warehouses can develop wasted, empty space as stock levels fluctuate. A gap on a shelf, especially in a prime piece of real estate right next to a packing bench, is a serious gap in efficiency.

Implementing Dynamic locations, made possible by the Peoplevox WMS, could go as far as to double the storage capabilities of your warehouse. Amazon themselves reckon using chaotic storage allows them to store twice as many goods as they did back in the early 2010s. Empty spaces get filled up immediately and you can keep fast sellers and popular items nearer the pack benches.

2: Avoiding mispicks

Mispicks in the warehouse will lead to unhappy customers, who open their box to find a size large great T-shirt when they ordered a medium. They’ll probably go and shop somewhere else to buy that T-shirt, and if you’re really unlucky, they’ll leave you a terrible review.

If you’ve got all of your grey T-shirts of every size in one place on the same shelf, it’s really not a surprise that the wrong size can slip into the trolley, when all the items look the same. Especially when it’s a busy Monday morning and each picker has 1000 items to grab before lunch.

It’s so much easier to identify and pick the right item from dynamic locations with mixed SKUs. Medium grey T-shirt, not wedged between larges and smalls of the same item in the same colour, but instead sitting between aforementioned yoga mats and avocado de-stoners. Much clearer. And even more than this, there is no need to visually identify an item at all. If your system knows the precise the location of the required item, you just have to pick the item from that location and scan it. If it’s not right, our system won’t let you pick it.

 
Other benefits of dynamic locations:
  • Put Away: At goods in you receive 1000 pairs of the same shoe, and you assign 10 staff to putaway. With fixed location, you’ll have 10 staff each with 100 shoeboxes all charging up and down the same aisle, all trying to stack their boxes in the same place. Or, you embrace dynamic locations, and let the 10 staff take their 100 shoeboxes to 10 different locations or more! Quicker, safer, easier.

  • Language / Memory / New Workers: Dynamic locations do away with naming areas of the warehouse after certain item types, and because the system knows where everything is, no-one needs to attempt to memorise that “specific corner where all the toys are”. Instead, you’ll find that one toy you need to pick as it comes to you in your smart route around the warehouse. New staff, as soon as they’re up to speed with the mobile system (which itself takes minutes, not days), have everything they need to find any SKU, anywhere.

 

Substance over style

Looks aren't everything...

If you can turn your internal compulsion for optimal feng-shui into a compulsion for great use of space, more accurate picking and happier customers who keep coming back to you, setting up dynamic locations with a fool-proof Warehouse Software system really is the future.

And that’s why dynamic locations, alongside many other features bespoke to the incredibly high-volume, rapid demands of e-commerce fulfilment, are the very foundations of the Peoplevox WMS.

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