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A lot of warehouse managers have an idea that their perfect warehouse is an orderly, organized creature of habit – but these days, the opposite may be true.

Thanks to the rise in eCommerce, warehouses have needed to be more flexible than ever before. New products can arrive at the drop of a hat, and shifting customer design means you’re never quite sure what you’ll have to stock next – or what you might find yourself running out of.

As a result, many warehouse owners are learning how to embrace the chaos. The rigidity and fussiness of old warehouses is a thing of the past – as online orders increase, warehouse layouts and inventory management have needed to be more flexible than ever before. This has led to a rise in a storage method known as “chaotic storage”.

 

Chaotic Storage for Warehouses

A lot of you are probably reading this and thinking “wait a second, chaos is the last thing I want in my warehouse!” And while you’d normally be right, chaotic storage has quickly become one of the most helpful inventory management methods for warehouses during the rise in e-commerce.

The easiest way to understand chaotic storage is to think of it as a method of inventory storage where nothing has a permanent location. As items sell out or come back into stock, or as certain items rise or lower in popularity due to seasonality or other trends, you can give their storage space over to a new SKU that may be needed more often. Then, when the previous item comes back into stock, you can find it a new home on an unused shelf, and so on.

 

This method offers some pretty major benefits, even if they’re not immediately obvious. By focusing more on using the space you have available without keeping it set aside for an item that may or may not be back in stock again anytime soon, you can actually get much closer to maximizing your available storage space, and using all the room you have on your pallet racks and warehouse shelves.

 

Additionally, you can have an easier time prioritizing products this way. As products go up and down in popularity (and stock availability), chaotic storage will allow you to move more popular products onto the shelves where workers can get to them more quickly. By removing the rigidity of traditional warehouse inventory management, where everything needs to have a set place for a predetermined length of time, you can better respond to trends in item storage and popularity, and help your team focus on the most popular items for as long as they remain in the spotlight.

While it may sound counterintuitive, this method can actually help reduce the risk of mispicks as well. A very common cause of mispicks in the warehouse is when two items are considered too similar looking, such as when the same item of clothing comes in different colors, and the wrong color is grabbed and scanned. By avoiding too many of the same type of item in the same area, you can reduce the risk of the wrong item being grabbed.

 

If you decide to go with chaotic shelving as your eCommerce business grows, you just might find yourself having an easier time managing inventory. So go ahead – embrace the chaos.

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