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Warehouse Consultants | Warehouse Standard Operating Procedures

Warehouse Consultants | Warehouse Standard Operating Procedures

New-Age Warehouses and Fulfilment Centres

Contemporary business models have altered the ways of managing warehouses. They have elevated the strategic relevance of warehouses and fulfilment centres (FCs). They are no longer in supporting roles. Today, warehouses and FCs contribute far more directly to the success of business models. A glimpse of this phenomenon is highlighted ahead.

Strategic Positioning

Today, we do not hesitate to buy even relatively-expensive items like television sets from online stores. There is a product for every budget. And it will be delivered and installed. TVs have got slender rendering them higher mobility. Retailers are willing to shed their margins to counter competition. None of these work without the strategic positioning of warehouses/FCs and the operational alignment to serve the business model in question. Even if you own a physical store, your warehouse location and its operational planning must reflect the requirements of your business model and strategies.

Maintaining the Desired Merchandising and Inventory Levels

Today, customers have a myriad of buying options. If a product is unavailable in a store or platform, they will consider another source. In the same way, customers are also brand conscious. The same is true even for packaging sizes. The unavailability of a particular product, brand, or size due to the absence of standard operating procedure for warehouse inventory management is not an excusable reason to lose customers. And that is why developing and following warehouse management SOPs are vital to maintaining the desired merchandising and inventory levels. Businesses can exert rigid influence over their in-transit and in-stock inventory via SOP for warehouse operations.

Omnichannel Capabilities

In light of the requirements of the omnichannel way of retailing, warehouses and FCs can no longer be made to function with their traditional capabilities. Enhancing their omnichannel capabilities require major upliftments in the form of space optimisation, adoption of process automation, logistics upgradation, and redacting of HRM. For example, if a brick-and-mortar retail brand intends to take on rising competition from dark stores, it will have to improvise upon its channel strategy, merchandising and stocking capabilities, IT infrastructure, and operational planning

Space Optimisation

As real estate is becoming pricier by the day, it is also becoming difficult to find space in attractive locations. For a common businessperson, it has become very challenging to tinker with pricing because of high rentals in urban areas. Rising competition and the foray of big brands into retailing have further added to this woe. But real estate is an external factor and businesses cannot do much about it. What they can do is go for space optimisation through layout planning and implementing SOPs in warehouse management. It allows them to make the best use of available space. In turn, they could handle more business volumes and expand their merchandising portfolio.

Process Automation

Warehouse operations cannot be left completely dependent on manual processes while the rest of an organisation has shifted gears to process automation. And here we are not only talking about industrial tools and hardware but also digital transformation. The warehouse operations management must integrate digitally with the enterprise-wide software ecosystem. The solution to this is becoming process-driven and use of best-fit technologies for executing warehouse operations. And choosing only one of these two will not work.

How YRC can help

YRC is a retail and eCommerce business consulting brand specialising in developing process SOPs among other services. In the past 10 years, we have worked with 500+ clients in 25+ industries. Looking into the future, we aspire to continue our scaling efforts on the global stage. We engage specialist retail and eCommerce warehouse consultants in the design and delivery of our services. From planning to implementation, our team of warehouse design consultants work along the lines of established planning and processes.

In this particular service, we assist businesses to craft their process and operational blueprints. This service is intended to benefit businesses that have their own warehouses and/or fulfilment centres. Robust, SOP-based processes for inbound, outbound, and control operations for warehouses/FCs are developed in this service. Essentially, the entire gamut of warehouse operations is brought under SOP coverage. Achieving this involves working in close coordination with our clients for better establishment of expectations and requirements. These simple warehouse SOP solutions could not only lend operational superiority to your warehouse/FC but also help adopt warehouse best practices and leverage our role in achieving your business objectives.

Our Solutions

Our solutions are customized as per the requirements. Our experts develop warehouse policy and procedures, related to:

  • Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Receiving- Inbound
  • Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Picking & Packing – Outbound
  • Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Dispatch – Outbound
  • SOPs for Warehouse Operations (Control)
  • Warehouse Functional Layout Design
  • Material Handling Procedure in Warehouse

Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Receiving- Inbound

SOP for receiving goods in warehouse or Warehouse receiving SOPs define how you deal with the incoming inventory of your warehouse/FC. This process definition and mapping help you achieve many important objectives:

  • Goods received matching purchase details
  • Quality checking for incoming goods
  • Timely initiation of return process
  • Classification and storage of items as per specific requirements
  • Documentation and reporting
  • Data accuracy for system entries and paperwork
  • Maintenance of cleanliness (via SOP for warehouse cleaning)
  • Better manage outbound operational activities
  • utaway (via sop for warehouse storage)

With our team of experts, warehouse standard operating procedures manuals are designed to help our clients achieve superlative management of their inbound warehouse operations. A representative version of a generic SOP for inbound warehouse operation is depicted below.

 

Warehouse Healthometer

Check the health of your business? Are you ready to organize & scale ?

We customise the SOPs (SOP for warehouse receiving) as per the unique business requirements and provisions of clients. When you have a warehouse SOP flow chart with list of activities, it becomes easier for you to ensure that the following activities are carried out following the established standards:

  • Order conformity checks
  • Quality checks
  • Paperwork and documentation
  • Inventory identification, classification, and storage
  • WMS system entries
  • Compliance with outbound operational planning
  • Goods return

Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Picking & Packing – Outbound
&
Standard Operating Procedure for Warehouse Dispatch – Outbound

The management of the outbound operations in a warehouse/fulfilment centre affects the performance and delivery of other internal and external process stakeholders involved in the value chain or the distribution network. This ultimately affects the experience delivered to clients and customers.

Our goal is to help our clients develop robust operational planning for their outbound warehouse operations in the form of Standard Operating Procedures. A representative version of a generic SOP for outbound warehouse operation is depicted below.

As for other SOP solutions, we customise the SOP for warehouse dispatch for our clients based on their business requirements and specifications. We aim to help our clients achieve:

  • Timely initiation of order fulfilment
  • Quick picking and packing with optimised workflows (with FIFO warehouse procedures)
  • Zero-tolerance for mistakes in labelling activities
  • Smooth logistical coordination
  • Zero-tolerance for unauthorised exit of any inventory from the warehouse/FC
  • Adherence to system entry/paperwork as per process mapping

SOPs for Warehouse Operations (Control)

Operational control measures are necessary in warehouses and fulfilment centres for evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing warehouse processes and procedures and making operational improvisations. For example, if your business is receiving too many complaints of mistaken or false deliveries, one area you should examine is the labelling section. This comes under root cause analysis for enhanced QA.

Our warehouse operations procedures aim to serve improvement in the areas of Waste Control, Quality Assurance, Warehouse Safety policy and procedures and Continuous Improvement. The coverage under each is depicted below.

Different clients maintain different approaches towards these three elements. Our aim is to help clients define, map, and embed these control and improvement measures into their operational planning by the means of SOPs.

Process & Inventory Audits

Audits on regular intervals is the diagnosis of the overall health of a company. It is important to check whether your systems and processes are efficient, effective, and performing as planned. In eCommerce warehouse management, these process and inventory auditing is important for the same reasons. Even if you know that everything is going fine, clean audit reports are reassurances. And sometimes this auditing task is outsourced so that routine business operations are not hampered and expert insights could be gained.

Warehouse Functional Layout Design

The layout design plays a vital role in the overall functioning of a warehouse/distribution centre/fulfilment centre. Right from how inventories enter the place to how they exit for further distribution or delivery, the right layout design help businesses achieve space optimisation goals, ensure smooth movement of people and goods, manage ease of accessibility of goods during placement and pickup, maintain cleanliness and hygiene, and adhere to the established safety and security protocols.

As veterans in delivering distribution centre design consulting services, we have witnessed the evolution of traditional warehouse layout strategies along the lines of the emergence of eCommerce fulfilment centres.

In layout planning, our team of warehouse layout consulting experts cover zone classification, time and motion study, shelf management, mobility and accessibility, safety and security provisions, and more. The objective is to help our clients enhance their capabilities to handle more business volumes with high accuracy and efficiency.

Get expert advice today and save on warehousing costs while achieving higher productivity and customer satisfaction. Get in touch with YRC Experts. Click Here.

FAQs

What is an eCommerce Warehouse?

An eCommerce warehouse is nothing but a warehouse used by an eCommerce/omnichannel business for storage and distribution of its inventories. ECommerce warehouses are popularly called eCommerce fulfilment centres or just, fulfilment centres as the orders are fulfilled from the warehouse and delivered directly to the end consumer.

What is the Difference between a Retail Warehouse and an eCommerce Warehouse?

The basic idea is the same for both – storage and distribution (end sale/delivery) of inventories.
Retail stores use a warehouse to stock goods in bulk for retail sales as doing that may not be possible in the store. When the stocks run low, the required quantities are quickly procured from the retail warehouses (usually in close distance to the store).

ECommerce warehouses (eCommerce fulfilment centres or micro fulfilment centres for eCommerce) are used as temporary inventory holding grounds to facilitate quicker home deliveries of orders.

If you are a warehouse retailer and/or selling via both online and offline channels (omnichannel/multichannel), you could simply call it a warehouse or FC. Its functionalities depend on what and how you make use of it.

How can I upgrade my Warehouse/Fulfilment Centre? Can YRC help with this?

Yes, under our warehouse management consulting services, we can help you upgrade your warehouse/FC in two distinct ways. First, we can help you define and map the operational roadmap of your warehouse/FC operations. Second, we can help you in identifying the WMS software requirements and finding the right software solutions for your warehouse operations management.

Our team of warehouse consultants can help you establish your warehouse/fulfilment centre for your retail/online/omnichannel business in the following ways:

  • Layout Planning for Space Optimisation
  • Development of Warehouse SOPs
  • Finding the best-fit WMS solution
  • Integration of warehouse processes with WMS

Our warehouse optimization consulting services can help you beyond setting up your warehouse/FC. Get in touch with YRC Team today !!

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We work only for Visionaries.

PROCESS AUTOMATION

The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

IT INTEGRATION

Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

 

At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

UI & UX DESIGNING

This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

BRANDING

Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

CRITICAL PATHWAY

Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

MARKET RESEARCH

Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.