Inventory Positioning: Best Practices
Retailers with multiple stores, product lines and product types need to implement inventory positioning best practices to ensure SKUs are in the right store or facility at the right time to better meet customer service requirements. Inventory positioning is not guesswork; instead, data-driven analysis should be used to ensure inventory is available and correctly positioned for orders to be fulfilled properly and to eliminate out-of-stocks.
When optimizing inventory positioning, the type of products you sell make a difference in fulfillment levels. For apparel retailers that carry only one or two units of a given product in certain sizes and colors, it can be harder to fulfill online orders. These are best fulfilled from a DC with inventory specifically allocated for these types of orders.
For food and beverage retailers, orders are typically filled in cartons, cases or partial cases from warehouses or distribution centers. To save on space, inventory can be stored in multi-level storage racks designed to handle a variety of products, including kegs of beer. For example, Southern Wine & Spirits uses four tri-level pick modules with UNEX Span-Track. UNEX Span-Track helps store fast-moving SKUs that are readily accessible for workers using voice-based picking software in the split-case fulfillment areas. Span-Track is also used throughout the rest of the facility where up to 17,000 full cases of wine and spirits are shipped out every night.
Retailers also need to understand where they are wasting time in the fulfillment process and implement products and processes to speed fulfillment. Keep track of lead times and lead time variability and look for ways to reduce them. For example, putting popular products close to the ends of aisles near the main “thoroughfare” of the warehouse or distribution center helps order pickers get to and pick those items much faster. Bringing products to workers reduces travel times and searching for products to complete an order.
UNEX helps retailers and other distributors to place inventory in the most optimal location to meet customer service levels. UNEX products maximize space utilization and speed fulfillment by bringing products to order pickers at the right time. Contact UNEX Pickologists to improve your inventory positioning.