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Sometimes it can be hard to know exactly how well your warehouse is performing.

Sure, there’s all the KPIs we usually check such as sell-through rates and inventory counts, but those can only go so far when trying to understand just how things work in your warehouse.

Any warehouse, no matter how well-oiled it may be, can always find things to improve on to help the whole operation move more smoothly, and that’s where warehouse assessments come in.

A comprehensive warehouse assessment can show you areas that need improvement and areas where you’re already excelling, no matter what kind of products you deal in or what sort of industries you serve. And, luckily, they’re not as complicated as you might be afraid they are!

The first step to assessing your warehouse is to perform a walkthrough. Pick a day, preferably one that’s busy enough to show different facets of the job without being too busy and hectic to really get any good data, and just walk around and see how things are going. If you’re noticing a lot of traffic in a specific area, or a lot of confusion about a given process, you might be finding areas to improve already.

After you’ve had a chance to eyeball a day in the operation, you’ll next want to gather data. This will go back to the KPIs we were discussing earlier: how have sales been? Has there been a sudden upswing in mis-picked items or product returns? Are your shipments being made on time or is there a snag in the process, either within your warehouse or further afield in the logistics process? You’ve probably already had a good look at these numbers earlier in the year, but regularly scheduled reviews of your most important metrics will give you a better overall view of your warehouse’s performance.

Above and beyond the standard sales data, you’ll want to make sure you’re reviewing productivity and service levels too. Productivity is generally for internal measurement, and service levels tend to run in line with the KPIs indicated above. For productivity, you’ll need to see if your team is hitting any of the same snags or any repeated issues with trying to pick products. Are your pallet racks arranged in a way that makes them easier to get to? Do you need additional wire shelves or metal shelves to help you keep your products organized and accessible? What items are frequently being mis-picked or aren’t showing up on reports correctly?

Similar questions should be asked of your service levels – are your deliveries arriving on time? What is the feedback on the quality of your deliveries and packaging like? If your customers have needs that still need to be met, this may be a good time to start making changes to your logistics process.

Finally, once all the data has been gathered and looked over, now is the time to set benchmarks. The point of an assessment is to identify areas for improvement and find ways to set new standards in every facet of the warehouse. Stick with goals that are relevant and actionable – while we’d all like to make more money year over year, a better place to get started might be to see if you can improve order accuracy or picking speed and working upwards from there. Keep your goals attainable but forward-thinking, and remember to use all the data you’ve been given to formulate your future plans of attack.

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