In the world of retail, distribution, and e-commerce, having the right picking and packing staff is absolutely critical to getting things done on time.

With the constant flow of product both into and out of most warehouses, making sure your picking staff is trained, equipped, and prepared for whatever may come can have a major impact on your entire supply chain.

If you want to make sure your picking staff is all on the same page, or if you’re looking for quick ways you can improve your picking strategy, here’s five questions to ask both yourself and your teammates:

 

What does their travel time look like?

Travel time is one of the biggest impediments to proper picking and effective order handling. By figuring out the average picking time for popular items or commonly-picked SKUs, you can better understand what your staff has to contend with on the floor. Are certain items out away in a spot that makes them harder to get to? Are your warehouse shelves too hard to access from the shipping/packing area? Knowing the obstacles your staff faces when they need to get their items picked can help you better understand their processes and challenges overall.

 

Do they have the tools they need to work better?

Warehouses these days are complex organisms, with a lot of moving parts that all come together to help get the job done. These parts might not move as quickly as you’d hope if your team doesn’t have the equipment they need to track down and pick the appropriate items, however. Talk to your team and see what’s missing—are the shelving label holders you use hard to read or inaccurate? Are your barcode scanners frequently mis-scanning or not firing when needed? Are your pallet racks too old and beat up? See what you can provide to help your team work better and watch as your errors go down and productivity increases.

 

Are there too many steps involved in the process?

Even if you don’t store restaurant supplies, you can still run the risk of having too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen when it comes to picking methods. Too many ‘touches’ on an item can increase the risk of items being mishandled or lost on the way, and can complicate your picking strategy to the point where it’s unrecognizable. If there’s extraneous steps in your picking process that you can weed out to help things move along faster, try reassigning some picking staff to another task or cutting out any middlemen to get the items to their destinations even quicker.

 

Are your items too vertical?

Conventional wisdom shows that picking items that are too high up costs more and takes more time than picking something at ground-level. Talk to your staff and review your sales levels to see what items could be moved to lower shelving or wire shelving, and make sure the best-selling SKUs are always close at hand for your staff members.

 

Can your employees provide feedback?

Finally, your staff is going to know better than anyone else what can change or what needs to be done better to keep product flowing smoothly through your warehouse. Make your staff feel open to providing feedback and suggestions when a process isn’t working or when something could be done more quickly, and you’ll have a much better idea of what could be changed and how things are going down on the shop floor.

Comments are closed.