When it comes to warehouse management, the replenishment tactics you use can make a big difference in whether or not your picking team can succeed later on. The warehouse replenishment strategy is often overlooked in favor of making changes to picking strategies first, but we find that it can have an equal role in the overall success of your business. These four practices can change the way your inventory looks on the ground.
- Use WMS Triggers - Warehouse Management Systems allow you to set individual re-order thresholds by item. As soon as a picker reduces the number of items present below the threshold, the system will automatically begin the process of refilling the location. This ensures that your inventory stays more stable throughout the year and your customers are less likely to find items out of stock due to unexpectedly high sales volume.
- Accessibility - Depending on the layout of your warehouse, you may find that it is difficult to make all products equally accessible to your pickers. In order to improve accessibility on the floor, many companies use smaller locations near ground level to keep a wider range of products available to pickers, while keeping the majority of their overstock in higher locations or in an area of the warehouse designed for bulk. When the small locations have been picked down to their lower threshold, they will be restocked from your overstock areas, which can also be depleted down to a reordering point in a cascade effect.
- FIFO Enforcement - Building upon the reordering and accessibility benefits of your new WMS, you will also find that you can better implement FIFO standards in your warehouse. Using the WMS to direct pickers to the easily accessible bins first ensures that they are always pulling the oldest product before that bin is restocked from the overflow area.
- Prioritization - Your warehouse management software keeps constant track of your current inventory, incoming product, and current orders placed. You can use this information to ensure that the hottest items are put away first, and save items that are in less demand for later. This ensures that your picking team is never left waiting for one item to fulfill a larger order. Some warehouses accomplish this by creating a special zone for high priority items close to the receiving dock so that they can be made immediately available to the picking team upon receipt.
Ultimately, the warehouse management software you have in place will play a major role in keeping your warehouse replenishment up to speed. With the information it provides, you can maximize efficiency by prioritizing items for put away and keep more product available to pickers on the floor. FIFO will be naturally integrated without the need for extra warehouse replenishment steps. Additionally, the WMS can handle all of your re-ordering alerts to ensure that inventory levels never drop below the optimal amount for current order trends.