Misplaced stock. Out of date stock. Too much stock. Not enough stock.
Stock accuracy is key for all wholesale, retail, manufacturing and 3PL warehouse operations. You might see poor stock accuracy as a warehouse related problem but the wider impact is huge.
The first step to fixing a problem is understanding you have one!
Sales are missing revenue opportunities or over promising to clients. Purchasing are buying too much stock, tying up cash and filling much needed warehouse space. The Financial Director hasn’t slept since 2014!
All these are classic symptoms of poor warehouse processes resulting in unhappy clients which even short term can be terminal for businesses.
The first step to fixing a problem is understanding you have one! Lets talk about making the stock take easy and part your businesses DNA.
The annual stock take
Counting stock annually often acts as a reset. For businesses with 100’s or 1000’s of stock lines, the annual stock take can often involve a full shutdown period resulting in lost sales, overtime payments and unhappy staff. The fallout can be even worse!
For a ‘true’ count, many businesses will start with a blank sheet of paper and account for every item/case/pallet in stock. This is often known as blind counting.
The counting itself can be painful, repetitive and open to error. One of the biggest challenges following a count is trying to reconcile the actual stock position with what was expected.
record the data in real time through the use of a handheld device or tablet.
These stock adjustments, alongside the financial ramifications, can take weeks to finalise draining key members of staff and removing them from their primary roles.
To try and support the big stock take, business should look to a warehouse management system to help record the data in real time through the use of a handheld device or tablet.
By recording the data into the system directly, you are removing the need for someone to type the results of the paper check sheets into the system at a later date which is another weak link open to human error.
Once any adjustments have been made, the stock position can be updated in bulk back into the core system, such as Sage200 or SAP Business One, saving hours of manual entry, line by line, location by location.
More businesses are buying into the ‘little and often’ mentality which is a far less intrusive way of counting stock.
Cycle counting can be done by physical location, by product or even product attribute. Some of our food and drink clients will a count based on sell by date, counting stock which is within a given window in an attempt to minimise waste.
The idea of a cycle count is the warehouse management system will automatically (or allow a user to manually) select a range of products or locations to count as part of a standard working day.
Little and often counting will also quickly highlight worrying trends
This is often done toward the end of the day to avoid clashes with high volume picking activity. The results are fed back in real-time, any discrepancies can be rechecked quickly and small adjustments made having little or no impact to the overall performance of the business.
Little and often counting will also quickly highlight worrying trends, such as theft, which will almost certainly be missed when only counting annually.
Similar to cycle counting, this is done little and often, but is done mid-pick.
When a user arrives to a location to pick a number of items (typically less than a full pallet), the user can be prompted to count back the remaining items left in the location after the pick.
far less intrusive way of counting stock.
This is a great use of time while already at the location. It saves having to walk back to the location at a future date as part of a e.g. cycle count, which when multiplied by 1000’s of locations can saves many hours for warehouse teams.
Count back is also a great way to spot picking errors very early on. If the user is prompted to count back each time they pick, an incorrect count back could suggest that the user has taken either too many or not enough of the prior pick. Randomising this will keep pickers on their toes!
Catching a mis-pick at this stage will also save time at the packing / despatch bench. This will ultimately improve customer service and profitability by reducing the cost of correct errors.
Speak to one of our team to understand how ClarusWMS’ simple cloud subscription platform can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service, better results and efficient stock taking for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution and manufacturing.