15 Warehouse Organization Tips To Maximize Efficiency

15 Warehouse Organization Tips To Maximize Efficiency

If you work in a warehouse, you might already follow a few best practices to ensure a clean, functional space. Even still, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to organizing your warehouse facilities. In this article, we’ll provide some practical, yet powerful warehouse organization ideas that’ll help you achieve maximum efficiency in no time at all.

Why is Warehouse Organization Important?

Warehouse organization is about more than creating a pleasant environment for your team. That’s because an organized floor plan lends itself to reduced waste, increased productivity, better inventory management, and lower maintenance/service costs. On top of that, warehouse organization can also prevent health and safety issues, seeing as regular cleaning helps you avoid accidents and injuries caused by falling objects, slippery surfaces, and more.

When your management team maintains an orderly warehouse, it sets an example for all your other employees. In the same way, a tidy space can generate a sense of pride that encourages employees to perform their work with greater care and cleanliness. Moreover, working in a clean warehouse tends to decrease stress since it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for — whether that’s supplies, equipment, or the inventory itself. This allows employees to complete tasks in less time and stay on top of order fulfillment workflows.

Simply put, a clutter-free warehouse is a safe and effective warehouse. Not only does a well-maintained work environment support operational efficiency, but it ensures you provide the highest quality service to each and every one of your customers/clients. Below you’ll find 15 suggestions on how to make your own warehouse as organized and productive as possible.

Streamline Warehouse Layout

Your warehouse layout can be the one thing standing between a seamless and efficient space, and one that’s messy and ineffective. Ideally, your warehouse design should be based around your needs — which will require you to identify your company’s unique goals. For example, do you need to optimize the available space for your pickers and packers? Or maybe you need easy access to your best selling items and most popular SKUs? Whatever your goals may be, you’re wise to create a warehouse layout that nurtures those specific objectives.

You should be able to draw a straight line from your receiving area, to your inventory management, to the pick, pack, and ship departments. If that line intersects or overlaps at any point, it could be a sign your current layout is in need of better space utilization.

Conduct an ABC Analysis of Your Inventory

ABC analysis is a categorization technique that places your inventory into three different categories: A, B, or C. Essentially, it divides up your inventory according to its value.

Group A will often be the smallest category, but the SKUs in that group make up the majority (80%) of your business’s value. Group B will be the mid-level SKUs, and Group C will be the SKUs that don’t have much impact on your bottom line (like slow-moving or discontinued products). By categorizing everything this way, you blatantly call out the most vital inventory to ensure it’s optimized, organized, and easily accessible at your warehouse.

Improve Warehouse Cleanliness

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s always to have a helpful reminder. Keeping your warehouse clean can help keep things moving, keep people safe, and keep the aisles clear for forklifts and for employees who need to move about your floor space.

To that end, make sure your employees not only keep their workspace clean, but that they make an effort to pick up messes as they happen — regardless if they’re the one who made the mess in the first place. As the old saying goes: if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.

Prioritize Warehouse Organization

In addition to keeping your warehouse clean, the lateral and vertical space should also be well organized. You have your inventory system, of course, but when your work stations are filled with all kinds of supplies they can quickly be rendered useless (unless you have the proper organization in place). Everything that your employees use — from pencils and pens to staplers and label makers — will need to have a designated home.

Organizing your warehouse can be as simple as using stackable bins or trays that are appropriately labeled. This simple warehouse storage can actually transform a cluttered workspace into one that runs seamlessly and without interruption. People will always know where things are so they can grab the supplies they need without searching for more than a few seconds. In short, an organized warehouse is a happy warehouse, too.

Level Up Your Warehouse Operations Team

Do you have valuable team players who might be fit for other roles outside of the ones they’re in? Sometimes shifting your team to different areas and responsibilities can boost both effectiveness and employee satisfaction. 

It’s a good idea to open up positions in your warehouse to those internal employees who are looking for more responsibility (or even horizontal shifts for something new). You never know what someone can accomplish when given an opportunity. Plus, bringing expertise to different areas of your warehouse can call out inefficiencies amongst your teams for even greater workflow optimization.

Optimize Inventory Management

Inventory is really the heart of your warehouse. So if you haven’t perfected your inventory management, there’s a good chance you’re not operating at maximum capacity.

If your warehouse inventory is complex (with a lot of SKUs and/or a lot of gaps), you’ll need to have a good grip on your inventory management. This means understanding how all the pieces of the inventory management puzzle fit together — from your marketing team, to your web developers, to your warehouse workers — and how all those pieces work in tandem.

Communication will be critical to optimizing your inventory management. For instance, if your warehouse knows a SKU is running low and your marketing team continues running ads on it, you may have a problem. That’s why it’s so important to keep tweaking and improving your inventory management processes until you find the right balance that works for you.

Monitor Inventory in Real-Time

Monitoring inventory in real-time is a critical component to warehouse efficiency. You might already have an inventory team (behind the scenes) that manages your stock levels and reordering, but it’s also helpful to inform your warehouse of those numbers throughout the day. 

Try installing some TVs at your warehouse that have a real-time chart of orders coming in/going out and of your inventory levels as they continuously update. This can be a fun visual as well as a beneficial tool that motivates employees to catch mistakes or call out inefficiencies.

Use Easy-to-read Labels and Signage

An organized warehouse is one with easy-to-read labels and signage. For that reason, make sure you label everything very clearly and place signage throughout your warehouse where it’ll make the most sense to the reader.

In other words, don’t just print out a small sign of instructions for warehouse employees — make it big and bold. Print signage with arrows to remind people how the warehouse should flow for receiving. Put large labels over the department areas so there’s never any confusion about where people need to be and what tasks are completed where.

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Improve the Receiving Process

The receiving area of your warehouse almost needs to be its own entity. There’s a good baseline approach for how you should rate the effectiveness of your receiving area found here. They mention that your transactions, inspection, loading dock, and product labeling should all be performing at perfect levels. If even one area cannot be confidently marked as proficient, you’re going to have some work to do. 

And if you’re experiencing any errors or inefficiencies related to receiving, there’s a good chance your picking process and shipping workflows will be a mess, as well. By improving the end-to-end receiving process, you can ensure your inventory counts get off on the right foot.

Be Aware of Your Inventory Status

Everyone at your warehouse should be able to identify and explain what each SKU is or does. Or at the very least, they should be familiar with all of them. While your SKUs need to be labeled with identification numbers and codes, knowing more about each product can help in a few ways. Most notably, your warehouse team can relate to the customer and feel empathy — thus having a stronger desire to get the package sent out quickly (and without error). 

This knowledge can also help if parcels are damaged or need to be re-boxed before going back on the shelf. Employees will immediately know what box and label the product gets, and exactly where it belongs within your warehouse storage space.

Conduct Regular Walk-throughs or Check-ins

Having managers do regular walk-throughs of your warehouse gives them a better picture of your workflows so they can pinpoint any breaks in the chain. The best way to know if there are issues is to observe the processes in action. Still, you don’t want it to seem like you’re hovering/micromanaging your employees — so be sure they understand it’s for their benefit.

Also, depending on how your warehouse or supply chain operates, a ‘regular’ check-in might be conducted every few weeks or months. While there’s no need to check-in every day (or even every week), it’s essential to revisit workflows and review the warehouse every so often to guarantee compliance and make improvements to your storage areas as needed.

Prioritize Employee Job Satisfaction

Putting more power in the hands of your employees is a great way to boost morale, improve satisfaction, and ensure every person can perform their job in the best way possible. One option to restore this power is asking your employees what they need to do their job better. 

Maybe that’s a standing desk so they can sit when they need to (or stand when they want to). Maybe they’d like snacks available for times when the warehouse gets busy and they need more energy to finish the job. Maybe they want more responsibility, or they need an assistant in their area. Whatever it may be, your employees know better than anyone what would make their jobs easier, better, and more efficient — so listen to what they have to say!

Invest in Continuing Education

A continuing education for your warehouse workers can make all the difference between a good team and a great team. While there are a lot of things they learn on the job, formatting training to cater to their specific roles can boost morale and help them strive for more.

Try implementing quarterly training sessions that can be attended by anyone who wants to learn more about other roles and departments. You can also do mandatory testing for systems and protocols each quarter to remind everyone of proper safety measures and best practices.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Part of managing a warehouse is making sure the computers, machinery, and everything else is working like it should. Be sure to implement a proper maintenance plan for your warehouse that provides both organization of workflows and regular testing.

It’s important to inspect areas and ensure OSHA compliance, as well as to consider the internal safety protocols being followed. Ideally, you’d inspect all your label makers, forklifts, and any other machines or storage systems whose failure would stall your workflows. Without a doubt, prevention is the best bet to keep your warehouse running smoothly at all times.

Upgrade Your Warehouse Management System (WMS)

Are you finding it difficult to accurately manage your inventory or warehouse space? Are items being misplaced or miscounted due to a faulty organization system? It might be time you find a better warehouse management system (WMS). Some businesses may opt for a free inventory tool, but those probably won’t be as effective for larger scale brands.

Instead, we’d recommend integrating Scout’s warehouse and inventory management system within your current operational processes. Scout’s software does it all and is the best choice for streamlining your warehouse organization within one secure platform.

Warehouse Organization Examples

Warehouse organization is a vital part of any warehouse management strategy — and one of the best examples of this can be seen via Spigen’s partnership with Scout. Spigen, a mobile phone accessory company, teamed up with Scout to streamline their warehouse locations and improve business process management. To enhance this collaboration even further, Spigen has taken advantage of Scout’s integration with ShipStation, as well. 

With both Scout and ShipStation on their side, Spigen has been able to maximize their order output and improve the overall fulfillment process. Scout has provided a single platform to help Spigen manage all of its fulfillment functions, in addition to implementing real-time transaction updates and intuitive barcode scanning (for quicker order validation). Thanks to this new technology, Spigen is saving time and manpower when it comes to order processing for all their inventory and warehouse management. 

Along with those benefits, Spigen has been able to reduce its inventory errors and warehousing inefficiencies to a notable degree. What’s more, they can now onboard warehouse staff with very minimal training — because of the ease and effectiveness of Scout’s mobile barcode scanners. In short, Scout has taken the guesswork out of managing and organizing Spigen’s warehouses, and made it possible for them to enjoy the ultimate in fulfillment functionality.

Curious how Scout can help your business level up through improved warehouse organization? Contact us today to try out our software and experience the Scout difference for yourself.

Warehouse Organization Tips FAQs

What is a warehouse organization?

Warehouse organization is a process for setting up your warehouse in such a way that allows for greater inventory control, time management, and employee productivity. An organized warehouse space streamlines end-to-end fulfillment by making it easier for your team to store, pull, and ship customer orders in less time and with fewer inventory errors.

Why is it important to organize a warehouse?

An organized warehouse space lends itself to a reduction in waste, increased productivity, better inventory management, and lower maintenance/service costs. On top of that, warehouse organization can also prevent health and safety issues, since regular cleaning helps you avoid accidents and injuries caused by falling objects, slippery surfaces, and more.

How do you organize a warehouse efficiently?

Your business can choose from a variety of options for efficient warehouse organization. For starters, you can rethink your warehouse layout, improve your warehouse cleanliness, or conduct regular walk-throughs or check-ins. For a more advanced approach, you can also upgrade your warehouse management system so that it’s doing the heavy lifting of inventory organization on your company’s behalf.