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Picking—it’s a necessary function of any modern warehouse, but the processes involved can get messy and overcomplicated with time.

Every warehouse has their own individual needs when it comes to picking, packing, and moving items, but there’s a few areas nearly any distribution center or warehouse could focus on in order to improve operations and smooth things out a little bit.

Here’s a quick checklist of some of our favorite ways to streamline and improve picking operations anywhere in your warehouse:


  • Are your employees on the same page with procedures? One of the fastest ways to impede picking efficiency is to provide inconsistent training to your staff. Schedule regular meetings to make sure everyone in the warehouse knows how to pick each item and perform every count, even if it’s not their day-to-day responsibility. This will help to curb bad habits right out of the gate and make sure everyone is trained on the same way to do things.


  • Are your employees encouraged to provide feedback? Of course, even if everyone is trained on the same processes, some of those processes might not quite work like you’re hoping they will. Make sure your staff knows they can come to you with suggestions, feedback, and questions about processes if something is proving to do more harm than good to the picking process.


  • How long does it take your staff to find & deliver SKUs? Perhaps the most important, impactful component of measuring picking is the time it takes to act on a pick and deliver SKUs. If it’s taking your workers too long to get to the warehouse shelves or to get to the items they need, you may want to start reviewing your processes or even your item locations to see where the bottleneck is and what can be done about it.


  • Are your SKUs arranged by importance? A quick and easy way to help cut down on picking errors and overall item travel time is to sort your SKUs by sell-through rate and item volume. Keep your most popular items on lower shelves, in easy-to-access areas to prevent traffic and help them get out the door more quickly. In cases of extreme traffic, you may want to consider keeping the best-selling items as close to each other as possible to reduce travel time and make everything easier to find.


  • How do items move through the warehouse? Are your workers expected to carry things by hand, or do you have material handling equipment to help with heavier loads? Are you using gravity conveyors to move product more quickly? Reviewing how your products move (and how many ‘touches’ they get) can help cut down on delivery time.


  • How accurate are your inventory counts? Finally, it doesn’t matter how fast your inventory moves through the warehouse if you don’t have the right items in the right quantities. Perform inventory counts as frequently as your schedule and staffing levels allow for, and make sure that any errors are accounted for as quickly as possible—and corrected going forward.

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