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Posts tagged “warehouse logistics

Retail Trends to Watch in 2014

The supply chain is always sensitive to trends, and retail is the trickiest of all. Consumers love to jump on new products and new ways to shop, and as online shopping continues to soar in popularity, the warehouse industry makes it possible for retailers to reach bigger markets and sell more products. However, new trends in e-commerce might change the role warehouses play in the future of retail.

Ship-from-Store Options

More and more shoppers are skipping brick-and-mortar stores to order from store websites instead. That might sound like good news for the warehouse industry, but there’s a new trend in ecommerce that threatens to bridge the gap between stores and behind-the-scenes warehouses: ship-from-store programs.

Major retail brands have long maintained national databases, to help them keep track of each store’s inventory. In the past, if a customer wanted something that wasn’t on store shelves, they could request it from another store, or the manager could add it to the next shipment from the warehouse.

Now, inventory databases are integrated into the online shopping experience. Shoppers can look up an item to see if their local store has it, but if not, they don’t have to drive to the next town. Instead, another store can ship it directly to their local store — or better yet, to their house. This process gradually inspired a larger trend among retail chains, turning stores into makeshift fulfillment centers for individual customer orders.

As online revenue continues to increase and customers expect more streamlined shopping experiences, more retailers will likely get on board, setting up ship-from-store programs. Future construction projects might even reflect this distribution center trend in the form of changed layouts or increased square footage. After all, they’ll have to designate more space for shipments and pick-ups. Ship-from-store options won’t render retail high-capacity warehouses irrelevant any time soon, but it’s still a trend worth watching.

Gimmicks, Specials & Bargain Websites 

Retail Trends

The warehouse and retail industries are symbiotic, creating a consistent flow of merchandise from a variety of different manufacturers. This is still very true in 2014, as the best brick-and-mortar stores thrive by embracing e-commerce and outsourcing their shipments and storage. However, savvy entrepreneurs are jumping onto the back end of the ecommerce trend. There are dozens of new retail companies that “exist” only online, without physical locations, and they rely on their interface to bring in customers who could purchase the same products elsewhere.

Warehouse managers must be able to assess any big change in demand, and decide whether staffing changes are also necessary to accommodate (or weather) it. As people with less retail experience jump into the retail business, managers will have to work harder to anticipate demand and coordinate their resources accordingly.

Shoppers are smarter than ever, and they’ll compare prices online even if they’re standing in a store aisle. The same gimmicks that sell products — limited-time sales and last-minute discounts — can throw off the predictability of the supply chain. When a brick-and-mortar store slashes the price of a hot electronic, pop-up electronics websites can respond with slightly lower prices, but warehouses must be able to accommodate that demand and get the products out.

As “free shipping” offers flood the Internet and online-only bargains keep shoppers in their pajamas, the demand for fulfillment centers will continue to grow. The warehouse industry can hold onto retail clients by focusing on capacity, efficiency and adaptability. Warehouses already make e-commerce look way easier than it really is; they can handle these new retail trends too.

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Ways to Organize and Optimize Warehouse Space

Optimizing Warehouse Space

Proper use of warehouse space can expedite shipping, increase safety and alleviate headaches. Organizing and optimizing space can also save companies up to 15 percent, according to Logistics Management, so it’s easy to see why it is important to make warehouse logistics a priority.

Increasing Shipping Speeds and Product Quality

Good optimization and organization can increase a business’ shipping speeds while insuring that the product quality is ideal.

The key to increasing shipping speeds is making sure that the most frequently purchased products are in the most convenient locations in the warehouse. The most popular products often change by season, so it is important to keep track of sales data. Before making storage plans, logistics managers should examine at least one year’s worth of sales figures. This will give a better overall idea of how products flow from the warehouse at certain times of the year.

Warehouses with diversified inventories can best manage a wide array of goods by using software that keeps track of SKUs, inventory, sales, projections and other important numbers. Many warehouse vendors provide this software as part of their storage package, and it is a popular choice for managing products.

As items are shipped to and from the warehouse, the product is scanned and the information is uploaded to the software, which is then accessible from an online dashboard. Implementing this software will help to optimize the placement of product throughout the warehouse.

Also, products that are best sellers should be left on pallets and not racked. This allows employees to quickly access the product and reduces wasted time racking items. This is especially true if the items are often purchased by the pallet or if the items are a part of cross-dock operations.

If products must be stored, consider using drive-in storage racks. Using this system can increase a warehouse’s storage density by up to 75 percent, according to Material Handling Industry.

Here are a few more tips for increasing speed of shipping and reducing space constraints:

  • Products with a limited shelf life should be put on a rotating system using shelving designed for quick and easy access.
  • Newer products should be shelved behind older products so that older products are easily accessed and shipped first.
  • Increase the productive use of floor space by up to 60 percent by using double-deep pallet racks.


Choosing the best shelving for product storage is an important part of increasing warehouse safety. When purchasing shelving and storage, there are a few things to consider.

First, how much will need to be stored? Take into account the size, height and weight of pallet loads. All shelving or storage solutions should more than compensate for product load to decrease the chances of items falling.

Second, the storage solution should allow for optimum product accessibility. For example, if products will be pulled using a counterbalanced lift truck, the storage area should be roomy enough for the operator to navigate the arms of the lift. If the lift arms rub against the sides of the shelving, the shelves could tilt or be damaged and eventually tip over.

Third, business owners need to consider how their equipment will complement the storage system. For example, if the warehouse has counterbalanced lift trucks (the most common warehouse vehicle) for product transport, the shelving cannot be taller than the truck’s 188-inch lift height.

By paying attention to how products are stored, a company can make large strides in customer satisfaction and ROI. Technology, types of storage systems and placement can all be used by businesses to achieve a much better warehouse system for their individual needs.

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