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Your e-business is rapidly growing. Your customer base is expanding. But more customers also means you may have to increase your stock. Moving to a larger premises seems obvious, but it is not always an option. If a new building or relocating is not feasible for the time being, you need to better utilize the available space. First you need to optimize your inventory. The question is how to do it?
Step 1: Analyse your client database
The first step is obvious: have a good look at your customer base. What kind of customers do you have, what kind of orders are received, how large are those orders, both in volume and size? What is the promised delivery time? All this information you need to gather in one file. Now you have compiled an overview and you can take the next step.
Step 2: Fast movers
Which products are your "fast movers"? What products are ordered occasionally? Can I put the fast movers close together? Do they fit in size, in terms of volume. Putting the fast moving products close together means that your order pickers can work more efficiently and faster. Avoid having to walk from one side of the building to the other side. It goes without saying that slow movers can be placed in the back of the warehouse. Use a good registration system, like bar coding, so your order pickers know where the products are.
Step 3: Store goods in a compact way
How compact can you store goods? Have a good look at your warehouse. Are you utilizing the height of the building enough? Is there still room to build a mezzanine floor? Placing a mezzanine floor has an immediate benefit: it doubles your storage capacity. By using elevators and conveyor systems you can connect the upper floors with the ground floor. Do you have many small SKU’s? Consider a ‘goods to men’ solution like a mini-load system. This automatic system uses a crane to store and fetch crates, bins or boxes in narrow aisles. It can’t get more compact than that.
Step 4: Right WMS
Inventory optimization often goes hand in hand with automation. For maximum efficiency you will need a good Warehouse Management System (WMS). Aligning the various systems is just as important as controlling the stock levels. XTEND for example delivers the tried and tested ARROW WMS.
Step 5: Visit reference sites
Look around for a partner who can advise and help with optimizing your stock. If you have already taken the steps above, you focused on a partner who can deliver the last steps. Visit businesses with the same challenges as you have and listen to companies who have already gone through the process of inventory optimization. This will help you in making the right choices.
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