No matter what metrics you track or how your warehouse judges success, we all know the biggest impact on these numbers stems from the holiday months.

The end of the year is where the biggest information about yearly sales, staffing levels, and other KPIs is found, due in large part to the pure sales volume of the holiday season.

While the influx of information can get overwhelming at times for even the most experienced warehouse manager, there’s a few metrics that you can specifically focus on to help get a better idea about where your business is going and what kind of growth you experienced over the previous year. Here’s our picks for the top three end-of-year warehouse metrics to watch:

 

Inventory accuracy

Accurate inventory counts and clear availability are things that every warehouse should strive for, but maintaining this accuracy even amidst the chaos of the holiday rush is the truest indicator of how your warehouse can handle the end-of-year onslaught. As your team unloads product onto your pallet racks and wire shelving, try to take note of how rough the process is. Is there not enough space for needed items? Are things going missing through miscounts or insufficient instructions on how to store different types of items? As data rolls in through the holiday months (particularly right after the peak sales season) try to keep an eye on important inventory metrics so you have an idea what to do elsewhere.

 

Picking efficiency and accuracy

Picking is one of the parts of warehouse management that needs the closest supervision in regards to metrics and KPIs. While getting an order right needs to be priority #1 (as nothing loses sales faster than someone needing to return an item), the constant pressure from ecommerce giants that offer faster shipping means you need to be able to process items as fast as possible. Take the time to look at how long it takes your team to pick a single order and go from there—are your most popular items too far from the packing stations? Are items frequently purchased together across the warehouse from one another? Is there a bottleneck at the shipping/receiving station that’s causing a long delay in putting together packages? Identifying these weak points when the volume is at its highest will help you through the rest of the year—and well into the next busy season.

 

Cost per item shipped

Even with all the sales you have to bolster your bottom line, you’ll still want to monitor your individual item sales to get a better idea of what your expenses are. Track the cost per individual item shipped across all related metrics (cost of labor to pick, orders picked per hour, etc), and then divide it by the total number of items (not shipments) you shipped during the holidays. This will go a long way towards helping you identify your biggest movers and may affect how you ship or handle certain items going forward.

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