Tomorrow’s Warehouse: Partner Opinion
Scaling your warehouse post-pandemic
With traditional models being turned upside down, the pressure is on for businesses to
become more adaptable and flexible with their planning - says SnapFulfil CEO for UK &
Europe, Tony Dobson.
Here are his Top 10 tips for any warehouse
needing to learn, grow and succeed in a new
world driven by fast moving e-commerce and
ever shifting customer demands.
• Know what’s changed. Regulations, guidance and
safety standards have all updated in the wake of
COVID-19. Good warehousing includes understanding
the rules by which you must operate, not just for
compliance, but the health of your employees and
• Understand who you have lost through
redundancy/furlough. In most warehouses,
especially smaller operations, your most reliable staff
perform a lot of tasks, which sometimes binds
together or glosses over operating challenges.
Evaluate your team, consider who is no longer there,
and dig into their roles and responsibilities.
• Expect shifting sands. Leaders and managers need
to cultivate resiliency in their teams. Shifting priorities
and focus will happen, so the best guidance we can
give to our teams is to be open to change and offer
them confidence that you’ll be right there with them.
• Prioritise your operations. A common warehouse
prioritisation pattern is: picking, packing, receiving and
putaway, followed by inventory control activities, such
as cycle counting and consolidation. In this way, the
focus is on immediate fulfilment activities, then re-filling
the warehouse, then ensuring inventory validity
– and resources need to be allocated to accomplish
those goals in that order. Be transparent on the costs
of this type of focus, and be ready to adjust priorities.
• Stabilise your own suppliers. As much trouble as
you’re having, spare a thought for your suppliers’
warehouses. Check and verify - and if new lead times
are needed prior to placing orders, ensure you
understand and communicate them.
• Have a personnel plan. It’s a challenge to manage
staffing levels in these unpredictable times, so it’s
worth regular strategy sessions with your leadership
team to understand what the trigger points are for
bringing on temporary or full-time employees.
• Tighten up dispatch and delivery. Businesses re-aligning
their strategy to focus more on delivering
into the retail channel or D2C should use their WMS to
take a fresh look at shipping visibility and accuracy.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, this is one of
the most crucial measures of all. Incremental
improvements in visibility and error reduction will
yield proportionately greater benefits to sales growth
and customer retention.
• Manage resources. There will be days when the
amount of time needed to complete tasks exceeds the
number of man hours available. In an environment
where hours are scarce, but demand for work is not,
managers have to prioritise work effectively. In a pre-
COVID-19 world, warehouses probably had four or five
critical processes but these may need to be refined
even further when time and resource is at a premium.
• Is it time to invest? Advanced cloud-based WMS’s like
SnapFulfil find their value in letting you do more with
less – and much more accurately. The most effective
warehouse operations use a WMS to establish optimal
picking and packing methodology, underpinned by
highly efficient receiving and putaway activity.
• Set goals and celebrate success. When times are
difficult it’s all too easy to lose sight of strategic goals.
Navigating the “new normal” inevitably means that
further goals will need to be set and regularly
evaluated. And just as important is to recognise when
goals have been met and celebrate every win.
Leaders and managers are under tremendous stress
and every hourly employee is just as burdened.
Warehousing can be thankless – but we have an
opportunity to run warehouses tightly, professionally,
and use every resource to its fullest.
0333 241 2082