One of my favorite e-commerce friends, Cindy Sorely, as well as myself have warehouses.
Mine are smaller and I have three for already listed items and one for unlisted items. They probably equal in size Cindy’s warehouse. Most of this article I will be focusing on Cindy’s business and warehouse.
Both of us are Very Professional e-commerce specialists with very different business models yet most major business operations are similar and Cindy’s is a better example of how a warehouse should be set up for that purpose. I am not a niche business so warehouse demands are varied and would not be the best example for a niche or focused product line business, as a majority of business models are.
Cindy’s is an awesome example!
You may know Cindy from her Facebook Group CO$T
CO$T (Cindy’s Online Selling TIPS) is for sellers of online platforms to come together for encouragement, goals, pep talks, and buying and selling tips from eBay Seller Cindy Sorley and members of this special group of handpicked members.
Cindy has been selling on eBay for 14 years and is happy to help any and all with any questions about selling online.
There will be webinars, videos, and classes… We do have Friday and Saturday Night listing parties if your social life is like a lot of ours, nill. This is a free service and you will not be charged.
Visit her blog at Cindy’s Blog for posts about online selling.
Before getting deep into Cindy’s and my warehouse’s information here is a big tip:
Investing in an effective warehouse management manages all aspects of the warehouse and the team will result in:
1. Setting up an effective warehouse management system for increased productivity and better real-time inventory control.
2. Always looking at implementing new procedures and looking at new technologies in the market to save both time and effort in dailywarehouse operations. These successful practices will improve overall performance and can lower the overall labor cost.
3. Understanding the type of commodity the business sells (small parcel vs. ugly freight) andoptimizing the warehousestorage area accordingly.
4. Maintaining good team morale and prompt, quality order fulfillment, which will back up your sales process, especially if you’re an online business.
Updates on Cindy’s warehouse development as taken from CO$T Group on Facebook, with permission, and private communications.
I promised I would post photos of the warehouse as we get it ready. We were at a standstill as we had to get electrical outlets along one wall for our shipping. Here are a few and I will add more as we develop
1. The shipping table is ten feet and high. We have outlets at the openings. My son built it and added pegboard on back and shelf on top. The top is a 10 foot counter top from Lowe’s.
2. This is one count (cross stitch fabric counts are how many squares are in a lineal inch). The shelves are from Costco. We have 7 along the wall six feet long each
3. Warehouse is 75 feet long
4. We had a mezzanine that was open. We had new stairs added and it boarded for safety and we store our backstock and close outs to be listed up there.
5. We have a small office and will photo that later.
Warehouse Layout Design
Warehouse layout directly affects the day-to-day efficiency of any business operation, from manufacturing and assembly to order fulfillment and more. Throughout my 7 years of building and managing an e-commerce company, I set up a number of warehouses, from tiny 10’x20’ storage units to expansive 7500 square-foot office/warehouse spaces. I learned early on that warehouse planning is essential to a smooth daily workflow. So I always had a solid plan in writing before we ever set up a single shelf.
At Keywebco I have three small warehouses operating all designed based on the above image.
A good warehouse layout always starts with putting it all down on paper first, no matter the size of your space. The easiest way to do this is to use a copy of your warehouse blueprint, especially if your space is large or not a standard rectangle shape. If you’re renting, your landlord might be able to provide one.
If you can’t get your hands on a blueprint, it’s easy to draw up your own warehouse schematic ongrid paper. I generally useone square = one square footon my schematic
How you lay out your warehouse space depends on how you’ll use your warehouse. So give your usage and processes plenty of thought as you look at your schematic and plan your work areas.
Are you a manufacturing operation? Stock and ship? Light product assembly? Whatever your business, your warehouse layout is going to be based around three things that you and your employees need to get work done:
After addressing primary units like equipment, stock shelving, and/or assembly stations, the next step is thinking about how workers, materials, and goods move in and around your key elements. You also need to consider the space needed for your production work to safely occur. This is especially important in manufacturing, where you have materials movement around equipment. But safe workflows apply to all types of operations, so it’s important to include adequateproduction zonesandworkflow areason any warehouse layout plan.
To determine the storage space you need, and the shelving or other storage units you’ll use, you first need to considerwhat you’re storing. This can take many forms:
Small assembly items housed in bins on light-duty shelving
Pallets with machinery parts
Boxed goods for pick, pack, and ship
Large raw materials for manufacturing
The list goes on and on. The important thing to know iswhat you’re storingdictates the type of storage you need to plan for in your warehouse layout. It also dictates the space you need to allow in and around storage areas, like aisle widths between shelving and clearance areas for moving goods in and out of storage.
I have a simple rule of thumb that helps me determine storage access spaces:
How you move materials and/or goods around in your warehouse dictates aisle spacing.
Best for:Light to midweight storage needs
Space to Allow in Warehouse Plan:Available in various sizes and weight ratings, in sections 3’ or 4’ deep x 6’ to 8’ long, and 6’ to 8’ in height
Average cost:$-$$ — A single unit new runs about $150-$250
Best for:Lightweight storage needs
Space to Allow in Warehouse Plan:Available in various sizes in sections 18” to 2’ deep x 4’ long, and 6’ to 7’ in height
Average cost:$ — A single unit new runs between $50-$150
Bins, Hoppers & Barrels
Best for:Parts and materials storage
Space to Allow in Warehouse Plan:Varies by footprint, common allowance is a pallet size: 40” wide x 48” long x various heights. Comes in smaller and larger sizes.
Average cost: $-$$Varies by unit, size & material. Pallet-size wire bins like the one below start at around $150
Small Parts & Assembly Bins
Best for:Storing small items in limited space and easy-access areas
Space to Allow in Warehouse Plan:None. Stacks on shelf units or on workstation tables
Average cost: $-$$Varies by unit, size & material. Stackable parts bins range from under $1/ea. to more than $10/ea.
Efficient Traffic Flow Strategies
You have a good idea of what’s going into your warehouse space, and a rough idea of where it can all fit in your warehouse layout. Now it’s time to really drill into your warehouse schematic to arrange every element into an efficient, productivity-boosting traffic flow.
For this, you need to really think about your operation, and answer these three questions:
Where do you or your employees spend the most time in the warehouse?
Around which elements — manufacturing equipment, storage areas, or worktables, does most work center?
What things do you or your employees need to move, gather, or have close-by to complete daily tasks?
The answers to these questions will help you lay out work areas and traffic patterns within your warehouse. Every business need is different, but here’s an example of a good traffic pattern based on my company’s pick, pack, and ship workflows. Below, I’ll note the key traffic features I address during planning, and why my warehouse layout solution works.
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