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The challenges and solutions in retail warehousing

Are you running out of space? In the competitive retail market, offering choices to your customers is essential. Yet this brings up the eternal issue of… View Article

RETAIL SOLUTIONS UK NEWS

The challenges and solutions in retail warehousing

Are you running out of space? In the competitive retail market, offering choices to your customers is essential. Yet this brings up the eternal issue of housing the products you provide. Very quickly, you can find yourself overrun with stock.

This means you need warehouses and in particular, ones that run as efficiently as possible. Below, we delve into the challenges inherent in retail warehousing and offer some solutions.

Challenges faced by those in retail warehousing

Retail warehousing and the good practices needed to keep it running can be divided into two sectors. These are the inbound and outbound. Goods need to be brought in and catalogued efficiently to replenish the stock. Yet it needs to go out on time to satisfy customers’ demands. The main challenges to this are listed below.

Incorrect inventories and stock counts

It is extremely easy to suddenly find yourself with a mismatched inventory. It only takes a misplaced item or incorrect count for a major problem to occur in your supply chain. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction, the loss of sales and customers turning to your competitors for solutions.

In addition to not being able to supply the products, poor inventory management can also result in having a goods surplus. This overstock is just as bad, as it takes up space and results in products that are not being sold. When you know about them and can find them, then you can put them on sale or send them elsewhere. This frees up space and turns it into revenue.

One of the easiest solutions for this is an efficient warehouse inventory management system. This can automate processes, taking out the possible cause of human error. It also makes other processes easier through the use of barcode scanning and RFID technology.

Lack of flexibility

Most retail businesses will understand the fluctuations caused by seasonal demands and external supply chain issues. This means that more space can be needed at a certain time of year than it is at others. This is an issue that needs careful planning well in advance, or a retail business may find out they are over or understocked.

When effective warehouse management systems are implemented, this becomes easier to predict. Data and analytics will be able to give you advanced warning on when to decrease and increase levels of stock. If this is combined with scalable storage solutions, such as temporary warehousing, then businesses can adapt to the supply and demand placed upon them.

Layout

Another challenge faced by those involved in retail warehousing is how to get an effective floorplan layout. The goal is to use the space efficiently, allowing the most storage possible. Yet it also has to allow movement between storage spots for people and machinery. In addition, it must also conform to fire and safety standards. If a warehouse is poorly laid out, it will produce bottlenecks. This can lower picking times, impacting delivery and the outbound supply chain.

One solution is to prioritize the most picked items, placing them in positions that are easy to access and closer to the outbound sales or packing areas. This can have a positive impact on the efficiency of the supply chain.

Possible solutions

The possible solutions can be broken down into two main areas. These are listed below.

Warehouse management systems and software

If your management systems and software are outdated, it can hinder your progress as a company. Warehousing has changed a lot in the past five years, and your competitors will have these modern systems in place. That will allow them to deliver items more quickly and efficiently to customers than you can.

When you have an updated system you will see an improvement in supply chain efficiency. Your inventory management will also become more accurate, cutting down the costs associated with missing and damaged stock.

Logistics

Logistics is a whole industry unto itself that you don’t want to deal with, so finding the best third party to do it for you is crucial. There are also several benefits to doing this with a third party instead of keeping it in-house.

Firstly, you can scale up and down quickly. This allows you to adapt to seasonal demands. You can also distribute your stock across various centres and warehouses, which can keep down costs and speed up last-mile delivery. They will also provide you with the data and analytics needed to make continual improvements.

It is always advisable to consult a logistics expert on this. They may be able to give solutions to both your warehousing and logistics, ensuring a smooth transition between the two. While these services do not come for free, the payoff will be a much better and more efficient service for you and the customers.

All of these issues will still be problems your company faces. But with the tips and solutions mentioned above, they should be much less of an issue. Crucially, this improves delivery times, supply and customer service. However, any changes made should increase sales and conversions.

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