The warehouse is a busy place. You are receiving goods in one corner and staff are assembling and shipping items out in an adjacent corner. Managing the physical movement of goods for your suppliers into your inventory and from your inventory out to your customers needs good coordination and planning. The better these functions are managed, the more tasks can be achieved in a day. We all have limited resources, so we need to coordinate and use staff and equipment in a way that can best fill our goal of exceeding customer expectations for goods they have ordered.

Here are 5 techniques to improve warehouse performance.

1. Manage Your Order Release Process

The goal here is to maximize the volume of orders you can ship accurately in a day. To gain efficiency – try and group processes. Try to do quick pick runs in the warehouse and coordinate the staff and equipment resources to get the job done more efficiently.

Depending on your software features, you should be able to group the orders you pick to specific characteristics that may help improve the speed of the picking process. Depending on your business needs and the types of orders you process, you can try:

  • Pick by Route – That truck going out east can collect all the associated orders at once and leave your facility quickly.
  • Pick by Customer or by Product – Your key accounts get limited inventory first or push out SKUs that have been staged closed to your shipping area for a quick pick run (Wave Picking)
  • Pick by Required Date – You can be sure to get orders out in-time for customers by managing the release based on when the customer needs these goods.
  • Pick by % Order Value or Fill rate – Allows you to select only orders that are 100% fill or have a specific dollar value to ship.
Improve Warehouse Performance

2. Set Regular Times Each Day For Each Activity

Regular Times

Depending on your warehouse size and design, it is sometimes difficult to have all activities happen at the same time. Scheduling staff and processes to happen at certain times each day is a better method than having ad-hoc activity happen all day long. For example, from 7 AM to 10 AM you can receive inventory, stock bins and organize the warehouse inventory. Then you can do a picking run from 10 AM until noon. Repeat for the afternoon shift by first stocking shelves, then doing pick runs for your orders.

Do not forget that the final task is to restock your picking bins and clean the warehouse before ending the day. Make it ready for the next shift or the next days tasks. No one like a messy work space, so it is important for staff to have time to reorganized locations, re-stock bins and to do some regular warehouse cleaning before the end of the shift.

3. Cross Train Staff For Different Tasks


For larger warehouses, you may have staff that are responsible for a specific task. It is good practice to move staff around if possible and allow them to see the all the functions that make up a successful warehouse. They should understand multiple jobs in the warehouse from picking, packing, put-away to receiving and shipping. This makes the employee more versatile and they can gain an understanding for other warehouse processes. For example, if your responsible to do put-away, you will more likely line product neatly to support a picker’s needs if you have done that job in the past. Build a team where each staff member knows and can perform all warehouse functions.

4. Communicate Changes In Demand To The Warehouse

Supply and Demand

New suppliers and customers can have a dramatic effect on the warehouse performance. As changes happen in the front office, it is important to have the warehouse participate and know how these changes may effect their work. Meeting and planning changes in inventory volume or mix based on new sales data helps to better prepare staff and the facility for meeting the new influx of customer orders.

5. Keep Warehouse Safety A Top Priority

Warehouse Safety

It really doesn’t matter how efficient you are in the warehouse if goods are damaged and people are injured. Instill a culture of safe work practices for everyone in the warehouse. Regular workplace safety meetings, an open system of reporting issues and continuous improvements on your processes all help to improve your warehouse operations. Each employee should feel able to report issues at your regular work place safety meeting. Everyone needs to be involved in addressing safety issues on the job.

To learn more about warehouse management and methods to improve the efficiency at your locations, please visit us here.

To read more about current trends in Distribution and Warehouse Management techniques, please visit one of the following recent posts;

About the author:

Beckard president Dave Savard brings extensive management, business planning, and operational expertise to the company, gained through two decades of public and private sector management experience. Dave’s ability to diagnose client operational problems and provide effective, practical solutions has earned him the enduring loyalty of clients. He is also known for a deep commitment to customer service, ensuring that client needs are not only met but that client priorities are considered in future product enhancements.  In his role as company president, Dave holds responsibility for operations, planning and customer service. Dave has a degree in Economics and Law from Carleton University.

Beckard Associates is a full service ERP and Wholesale Distribution Software company providing Accounting, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to companies across North America. We write blog articles that inform and educate are clients and colleagues. If you would like to learn more, please visit us at

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