Your guide to improving warehouse efficiency in 2024
Throughout the early 2020s, technology has transformed warehouse management – and that’s set to continue in 2024.
These new technologies can provide innovative ways to improve your warehouse efficiency, reducing everything from storage costs to time wasted on manual tasks.
Terms likeautomation and ERP software can be confusing. If you’re not sure where to start with the new year’s developments, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll cover the key issues for improving warehouse efficiency in 2024 – and clue you up on specific strategies to take your warehouse to the next level. Read on to learn more…
Does warehouse efficiency really matter?
It’s always a good idea to improve efficiency in your warehouse. Otherwise, you put your business at risk of problems that can put a real dent in your profits and growth.
For one thing, an efficient warehouse gives you better transparency. Once you have a clearer view of your stock - delays and stockouts are an issue of the past. That’s particularly important as, according to Harvard Business Review, up to 43% of customers will shop elsewhere to buy an out-of-stock product. Meanwhile, efficient warehouses have improved customer satisfaction and increased profits.
Other benefits to streamlining your warehouse include…
- Reduced human error
- Less time wastage
- Accurate inventory data
- Improved collaboration between departments
- Optimised stock levels
- Improved customer service and quick dispatch
What are the key issues for improving warehouse efficiency in 2024?
Warehouse management never stays in one place. Technological advances have transformed the industry throughout history. Whether it’s the ancient Egyptians keeping records on papyrus, or the first databases of the late 20th century, businesses have always sought ways to manage their inventory efficiently.
That’s only increased during the 21st century, with the advent of cloud-based inventory management. So, what will the warehouses of the (near) future look like? Below are several factors that will upgrade warehouse efficiency in 2024 and beyond…
Manual tasks eat up the time of your warehouse staff. Fortunately, automation technology is paving the way for more efficient processes. From utilising machine learning to predicting changes in market demand, to increased use of robots to automate warehouse picking and transportation, there are plenty of different ways automation can streamline your warehouse.
Along with these innovations, it’s essential to have a clear grasp on your inventory. One of the best tools to streamline operations is ERP software. ERP software supports automation across your entire business, from warehouse management to financing. That means every cog in your system turns together, ensuring smooth business management.
As your business grows, your warehouse grows with it. To stay efficient, you need to reduce those time-consuming manual tasks and keep on the pulse of your business. That’s why automation technology is more important than ever.
Climate change is transforming how warehouses operate. To meet regulations and save the planet, warehouse operators need to consider their environmental impact. That also works to build trust and loyalty with ethically conscious clients.
What’s more, it can have an impact on your warehouse efficiency too. Sustainable warehouse management ensures that your business is built to last. To scale up your business, you need to ensure you’re making smart, data-based decisions – and stay aware of the stock you have access to and reduce stock wastage.
When it comes to warehouse efficiency in 2024, data is still king. As businesses implement automation technology and sustainable practices, transparency has to be made a clear priority. It’s no use making wild guesses about your stock. Errors can easily be made, for example, if your staff are working with outdated inventory data.
Different departments need to work together seamlessly to ensure everyone’s on the same page. Synchronising inventory data in real-time across multiple teams and locations will be essential through the coming year.
5 steps to improve warehouse efficiency in 2024
Efficiency isn’t achieved overnight. It takes time to implement through a variety of tools, strategies and software. Fortunately, there are some clear steps you can take to improve your warehouse efficiency for the new year…
Streamline staff training
Your staff are the backbone of your warehouse. Training ensures each team member has a clear understanding of their work. However, this essential process can take a considerable amount of time. As the size of your warehouse increases, so too does the amount of training required.
Streamlining your warehouse training saves vital time that your staff can spend on the warehouse floor. It also ensures your staff feel confident in every aspect of their role, and have a strong grasp of the systems they need to use. In turn, that saves your managers time, too.
ERP software is a great solution for streamlining training for warehouse staff. For example, with Profit4's picking system, staff won’t need to know the exact location of a product before it’s picked. Instead, they will receive a note with a product code and bin number, which will take them right to the required location.
In most cases, helping staff to pinpoint product locations could take hours (at a minimum), but this system is quick and intuitive so requires just a limited amount of training. Plus, with Profit4 you get access to plenty of software training, so using the program is a breeze for your team too.
Optimise inventory levels
Choosing the right stock is essential to an efficient warehouse. If you clutter your warehouse with the wrong products, nothing will shift from your shelves. These products then prevent you from storing your bestsellers. As they gather dust on your shelves, the unsold stock also risks becoming damaged or decayed. If the items never sell, they may need to be disposed of, which will contribute to environmental pollution. That’s not good for your business or the planet.
Meanwhile, if you have a good grasp on what isn’t selling, you know what to include in your upcoming sales. You’ll also want to avoid going too low on popular products. Stockouts lead to delays, upset customers and lost sales. Warehouse efficiency is all about keeping the right balance of stock on your shelves.
Again, ERP software is the best solution. For example, Profit4 provides recommended minimum, maximum and optimum stock levels for each product. These are calculated based on historical usage data. Proft4’s data reports also showcase bestsellers and slow movers, so you always know what’s selling and what isn’t. This all ensures that you’re making the best use of your warehouse space – and that any decisions you make about your stock are data-driven.
Reduce manual tasks
Warehouse efficiency isn’t only about space. Time is wasted just as often. From generating picking notes to creating and printing shipping labels, manual tasks soon build up. As orders increase, these tasks take up lots of staff time and increase the risk of human error. Businesses can hire new staff to cover the increased workload, but that also brings additional costs.
However, that’s not the only solution. Automation can make a real difference here. With Profit4’s order management system, everything from picking notes to shipping can be generated automatically. For example, the automated shipping system can automatically arrange carrier delivery, as well as creating and printing out shipping labels. Product weights are also pulled in automatically, so staff won’t need to waste time on this either.
All this saves time for your warehouse staff, so they can focus on other tasks. No wasted time, no need for additional staffing.
Leverage real-time data
Visibility is vital for warehouse efficiency. It ensures you know which products are selling like hot cakes, helping you to avoid stockouts and unhappy customers. You’ll also avoid shipping delays as you’ll always know where your stock is, even when it moves within and between warehouses. Whenever anything sells, staff in different departments will instantly be updated.
Data is no good if it’s outdated, though. If you’re recording your inventory with a spreadsheet, mistakes can happen. Let’s say a popular product sells out, but the warehouse team forgets to update the spreadsheet. Your sales team will have no way of knowing, and could sell an item that is no longer in stock. That’s why real-time data is so essential.
With a cloud-based ERP system, your inventory is updated automatically – and that information is instantly visible to all departments. When a product is sold, your warehouse team will be updated. When a product is shipped, your customer service team will be updated. That creates a seamless system, where everyone has access to accurate data at all times.
Prioritise orders and picking
Efficiency requires prioritisation. Shipping out orders without clear prioritisation makes poor use of staff time – and could potentially lead to delays. Orders that need to be shipped quickly are kept longer than needed, which can be frustrating for your customers.
Sales order management software can help you to prioritise orders at every stage, from sales to shipping. For example, if some customers require expedited delivery, you can set these orders to be shipped first. This tool is also useful if you use a courier that only picks up in the morning. You can prioritise these courier orders for picking and dispatch, then switch to your own van deliveries for the rest of the day. That makes the best use of your warehouse team’s time and company resources.
There are plenty of other tools staff can use to speed up the picking and packing process. Optimised picking notes give staff the most efficient sequence to pick out orders. This ensures orders that need to be shipped quickly are found and dispatched fast.
How to optimise Profit4 software for warehouse efficiency in 2024
Once you have a cloud-based ERP software at your fingertips, it can be challenging to know where to start. Fortunately, we’re here to help. There are some simple steps you can take to improve your warehouse efficiency with Profit4. Here’s how it works…
Customise staff dashboards
Your warehouse staff are unique. It’s important for them to have access to the inventory data they need in real time. However, not all that information will be as relevant. What’s useful for your trade counter staff might not be essential to your warehouse team. If all that irrelevant data is on their dashboard, it can be difficult to find the information they really need.
Aside from their differences to other departments, warehouse staff may each play a different role within the team, from picking to dispatch. Fortunately, Profit4’s dashboards are all customisable to suit your staff members’ unique needs. That makes it easy to create a dashboard with all the relevant information visible at first glance.
Utilise shortage lists
Shortage lists can help your warehouse to avoid stockouts. If staff need to order multiple items from a supplier, or if there’s a minimum payment threshold, shortage lists are a great tool to make use of. Like a shopping list, warehouse staff can add products that they wish to order. This can then be viewed by the supplier – and raised as a purchase order.
Shortage lists can be added manually by teams across your company, from sales to your warehouse team. Alternatively, they can be automated. So, for example, if the stock of a best-selling product falls beneath a particular threshold, it will automatically be added to the shortage list.
Keep training up to date
Training keeps your warehouse team in the know, saving time and minimising human error. At OGL, we make detailed training a priority. That’s why we offer customer support and training sessions long after the initial implementation of our Profit4 system.
From refresher courses to training for new staff, our software trainers are available to provide guidance when needed. If you’re in need of further advice about utilising Profit4 in your warehouses, you’ll also have access to a Customer Success Manager to advise you.
Streamline your warehouse with cloud-based ERP software
From picking to shipping, your warehouse team covers a myriad of complex tasks. Without a clear grasp of your inventory, it’s easy for warehouse management to get out of hand. That can potentially lead to stockouts, lost revenue and negative reviews. Fortunately, there’s a software solution that can make a real difference.
Designed for stockists, distributors and wholesalers, Profit4 has everything your warehouse team needs to save time and streamline systems. That includes automating manual processes and accessing real-time inventory data.
If you’d like to learn more about Profit4, get in touch with our friendly team today. Alternatively, watch our 3-min demo to discover how Profit4 can improve your warehouse efficiency throughout 2024.