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If there’s one thing we all learned last year, it’s that we could all be a little more…flexible.

The world can seemingly change at the drop of a hat, and when the world changes, warehouses are often the first thing that needs to keep up. As the backbone of American retail and commerce, warehouses need to be the first to adapt to any major changes in the landscape of business, whether brought on by some major technical innovation or some unforeseen external force, like the pandemic.

As a result, it becomes critical for warehouses to be able to keep up with these changes as quickly as possible, to prevent any sort of loss in business or failure of the supply chain.

But how do you know what to look out for? What are the most important things to focus on if you want your warehouse to be able to keep up with the times? While there’s no hard-and-fast rules for such a thing, there’s always a few tips and processes to keep in mind:


Flexible Warehouse Management & Preparations


Think long term

Warehouses tend to be more reactive than proactive, in that they tend to truck along on a set course until something forces it to deviate from that course. As the events of 2020 have taught us, however, planning for down the road may just come in handy.

Even though nobody could’ve really predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of changes that resulted from it – and many of these changes will affect the warehouse industry for years to come. To get ahead of these changes, get together regularly with your team to make 5-year-plans for both your business, and the industry as a whole. Who is your customer base? Will this customer base grow or change in demographic rapidly over the next five years? Is there anything you can do right now to serve them better? Can you review sales charts to predict times of demand spikes, or increased popularity for certain items? Asking yourself similar questions to these can save you a lot of potential headache.


Optimize your inventory

We’ve all seen how hard it can be to keep certain needed items in stock, particularly during times of market uncertainty in regards to both the economy and product availability. As a result, your inventory needs to be finely tuned and optimized the best it can be, as shown by your sales levels and feedback from customers and vendors.

Focus more on utilizing well-organized warehouse shelving (including whatever metal shelves and wire shelving you use) that stocks the most popular items your warehouse deals in, and don’t get too hung up on carrying lesser-sold items. Less popular goods, in many cases, are just taking space away from the inventory that actually moves and the stuff your customers actually want. Keep your inventory organized to focus on the stuff that sells, and don’t be too shy to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t – this might just help you keep the inventory you need around when you need it the most.


Focus on communication

Few things can solve warehousing problems faster than open, clear communication with all parties involved. While it’s never easy to be the bearer of bad news, a little transparency can go a long way towards maintaining a good relationship with customers and vendors alike.

If a product is going to arrive late or is oversold, make sure to notify your customers immediately and process returns the best you can. If you need more time to fulfill an order due to vendor issues, keep your communication going with both the vendor and the customer to make sure everyone involved knows how long it’ll take. Even if you can’t solve the problem immediately, being consistent with your communication will help everyone involved know when you can solve the problem, or at least how.

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