As we approach a post-lockdown horizon, how can businesses fortify their warehouse logistics and operations for the new normal?

Global uncertainty has shown the need for yet more innovation in our warehouses. Here in the UK, the weak points in our warehouse logistics already revealed by Brexit have only strained to a bursting point by COVID-19. From vast corporations to your local independent tradesperson, we’ve seen halted services, shortages and delays, massive market shifts and sadly, business closures.

Now, businesses are battling through ever-changing restrictions. A shift or drift race has consequently emerged to secure our services and shape businesses for the future. We can’t always predict the next big storm to strike our operations. Yet, shifting to a more robust logistics structure can ensure resilience and flexibility when we could need it most.

So, here’s what your business can do to help your operations weather whatever comes your way:

Understand your key operations to know your weaknesses

To understand how to create secure warehouse logistics, you firstly need to gain complete visibility of your business. From your supply chain and warehouse operations to your shipping and end-consumer data, you should be able to access real-time information at any moment. Vitally, every action you make should be informed by your own accurate figures.

With a handle on your data and quick access to all the reports you need, you can use business insights to analyse your performance and ascertain the critical parts of your warehouse processes. This knowledge will highlight where you could streamline, speed up and improve the general productivity of your operations. But also, you will be able to see the essential elements to keep your business running. Above all, you will know where the potentially ‘weak’ points lie.

Ready your contingencies

Moving forward, companies will be under increased pressure to have effective contingency planning in place. A long-term shift in ‘normal’ priorities will see board rooms favour reliability and flexibility for central operations. It will no longer be a case of choosing the cheapest available option to prop up our warehouse logistics. With contingency planning, the aim is to create more reaction time. Therefore, you can give yourself the breathing room to stay on top of any issues that arise.

For your supply chain:

For instance, to ready your supply chain,  you should prepare with back-up or multiple suppliers. In a crisis scenario, the competition for new suppliers could be high. Those still available may offer terms that could affect your cash flow, time to pay, duty arrangements, and service provided.

In an ideal world, you would make these logistical decisions would when your business is secure to get the best deals. Yet, knowing ahead of time isn’t always possible. You should, therefore, consider whether the supplier fits the size of your business and if their service can adapt to your particular needs.

For your workforce:

Training your new and current staff to handle essential warehouse operations independently is all the more valuable to keep workflows and logistics running smoothly. However, to stop your productivity taking a hit, using the right technology can also help here.

Warehouse management software can automate many of your manual processes. It increases your throughput with accuracy, minimises costs, simplifies tasks like stock takes and data entries, and reduces your need for so many staff on a given shift.

Prioritise your offerings

In the event of inventory shortages, processing delays or delivery limitations, you should decide which items you will store, pick, pack and ship as a priority. Here, consider factors like the supply risk, cash flow and product perishability.

Then, be sure to confirm which customers and products take precedence. Agreeing on a fair method of stock allocation in the event of limited supply can solve problems before they occur.

Build trust through transparency

Make it clear how your employees are working and how your business is operating. Be knowledgeable about every aspect of your warehouse and logistics, and clearly explain any affected stock and orders to your customers. By updating your website and communication channels, you reassure your partners, retailers and customers by managing their expectations.

Working with your team, business partners and data can also offer performance and end-consumer information. You can gain the ability to monitor lead times and fulfilment statuses to ensure you can deliver.

Check for any changes to courier and supply chain operations and integrate your systems with theirs. These steps can also help to maintain a more immediate and reliable source of data transfer, tracking and delivery information. With the use of electronic data interchange, not only can you track your items and purchase orders, but you can also ensure an automatic and accurate input of information without the need for manual rekeying tasks.

 

As COVID-19 has proven for end-users and businesses alike, we will now all go to more effort to receive our goods exactly when we need them and ensure they are of good quality. Fortifying logistics enables more businesses to adapt to any ongoing developments as they emerge. For more information about how the right software can help to fortify your warehouse logistics, visit our website or call our team on 01522 704083.

 

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