Modern warehouse practices have revolutionised the way some businesses operate, increasing the efficiency of other aspects of the business while simultaneously offering cost savings.

Essential for modern e-commerce, the techniques born in this fast-paced area are being borrowed by sectors such as manufacturing and wholesale. For these businesses, the ability to efficiently hold, sort, access and dispatch goods is also essential.

In order to benefit from the latest warehouse management advantages, some investment in modern techniques may be required. The good news is that this investment is relatively modest when compared to the turnover of a medium-sized manufacturer or wholesale operator.

Given that the efficiencies also leads to savings and an improvement in margins, the investment will make sense to most SMEs – especially with smart business finance that effectively lets you pay with your own money!

Top Tips for Efficient Warehouse Management

Curt Barry, chairman of F. Curtis Barry & Company, a consulting firm specializing in multichannel operations and fulfilment, points to the human element in his tips on improving warehouse efficiency. 

“Properly engineered incentive pay for performance can bring the biggest percent improvement in labor productivity,” he says. 

To do this, a business will need to properly measure relevant KPI’s and Barry also recommends developing the frontline management of your warehouse, and simplifying processes until you have a minimum number of “touches”.

“Generally speaking, less steps equal fewer touches equal lower costs,” he says.

Implement the right software. John Gomez, at fulfilment specialist 6 River Systems, says an integrated software solution that automatically links your warehouse to the rest of the company can be transformative 

He says: “Software is the backbone of many companies today, automating manual processes and analyzing data better and faster than humans can. In the warehouse setting, data is crucial for measuring performance, identifying bottlenecks and workflow issues and forecasting demand to optimize inventory. 

“A warehouse management solution that integrates with your accounting software or HR software, for example, makes it easy to analyze data from both sources so you can more effectively plan staffing, forecast and budget and make smarter decisions.”

Get the right warehouse set up. Storage solution consultant Greg Philips, at Australian storage firm Bowen Group, recommends planning and designing a warehouse from scratch. This way, it is guaranteed to meet your needs.

He says: “An effective warehouse will ensure that your products are easily replenished for picking, products are easily and quickly picked whilst maintaining high order picking accuracy levels, all staff are kept safe whilst picking and packing in your warehouse and dispatch areas. Whether you store your products on pallets, on pallet racking or in smaller boxes or parts trays on lighter duty shelving, careful planning is required to ensure you get the most of your distribution centre.”

Philips adds that this highly effective customer warehouse could then feature optimised inventory management and machine automation. 

How to Fund Your Efficiency Investments

Nothing is more frustrating for a business owner than finding a neat way to reduce costs and improve margins, only to see most of the advantage swallowed up in fees and interest payments associated with funding the improvement.

However, manufacturers and wholesalers with significant warehousing needs usually have the money to make substantial investments already hidden in their own accounts receivable.

Invoice finance allows businesses to access the cash tied up in their unpaid invoices immediately. This can be a great way to fund investment, especially when the improved efficiencies will rapidly lead to growth and savings.

The money you get from invoice finance is re-paid as your customer pays. Further invoice finance can be accessed as required, both to aid cash flow management and to raise further funds. 

Find out how invoice finance could work for you. Call the experts at TIM Finance and get tomorrow’s cash flow, today.