At the start of the pandemic, who would have put their money on retail sales volumes being 4.7% higher than a year earlier?  The Office for National Statistics data revealed that sales for September were 5.5% higher than those seen in February, with more than a quarter of these purchases made online.

With a combination of local lockdowns, seasonal peak and Black Friday looming on the horizon, it’s a perfect storm of increased demand for many ecommerce traders. Having more orders that you can shake a stick at must be on every retailers Christmas wish lists but, it does come with its own problems. Faster than anticipated growth can put a real strain on resources, available space and operations.

If your business is struggling to increase capacity and meet demand, here are some “quick wins” to help ramp up your operation.

Reduce your picking times

Consider the layout of your picking area, is it easy for your pickers to navigate and find product or, is it an assault course on a par with “It’s a knockout”.

Improving layout and ease of picking doesn’t need to be a costly infrastructural change. It can be quick, easy and relatively inexpensive with low cost temporary pick bins. Easy to assemble and strong enough to hold up to 500kg, they can be erected quickly. Interchangeable shelf dividers mean that each bay can be sized to specifically match your product range. It’s possible to adapt your floorspace in hours, not days.

The introduction of pick trolleys can also streamline the picking process, making it possible to pick multiple orders at the same time.

Make space for expansion

If space is at a premium, then it’s time to consider if you’re making the best use of it.  Storage of low value packaging items on-site could be prohibiting your expansion to meet demand.

Purchasing packaging direct from a manufacturer may give you the best price per item but, it does become more costly when you start to factor in the cost of storage onsite. Think about it this way, potentially the floorspace taken by every 2 pallets of packaging could be enough to house an additional packing bench – would that position you to react better to business growth?

There are typically always opportunities to reduce the number of packaging pallets onsite, from pallet optimisation right through to packaging distributors holding your stock offsite and delivering “JIT” to your packing lines.

Pack more efficiently

There are many ways to speed up the way you pack –implementing simplified packing processes, innovative pack designs and automation that can reduce the number of operator touches per pack.

For a short term fix to speed-up manual packing times read our blog https://www.macfarlanepackaging.com/3-packaging-tips-to-keep-up-with-increased-order-demand/

As a longer-term project, you may want to consider packaging automation. Solutions like auto boxing or bagging systems can significantly speed up your throughput and make the best use of floor space. As each pack is built around your product it reduces packaging material use, improves parcel cubage and increases delivery vehicle capacity. Automation delivers significant savings on labour, packaging and courier costs, so a return on investment can be a matter of months.

If you need help to meet increased demand or are looking for more packaging tips on how to improve your warehouse efficiency, contact Macfarlane Packaging today.

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