Best Tips to Organize Your Retail Stockroom
Your stockroom is the organizational center of your retail business. If you’re like most retail operators, you’re always struggling to make the best of your limited storage space. You’re trying to maximize existing space without adding expensive square footage. You’re also attempting to improve your stockroom efficiency and raise your bottom line.
Strong bottom lines and best returns on investment are crucial concepts for all business success. Nowhere is this more evident than in America’s enormous retail industry. According to an International Trade Administration Industry & Analysis Unit (I&A) report released by SelectUSA, the retail sector employs one in five Americans. Retailers, like you, directly provide 29 million jobs and support 42 million more.
Contrary to popular belief, the big-box retailers don’t drive nearly as much overall revenue as small to medium-sized business. The “little guys” account for 95 percent of American retailers. If you’re part of the substantial retail economic sector, you helped contribute to $3.1 trillion in United States sales during 2017.
Organizing the Retail Stockroom
No matter what type or size of retail business you operate, you probably have room for operational improvement. Your best return on efficiency investment is likely in retail stockroom organization. Organizing the stockroom has a lot of benefits. Financial gain is a primary motivator. However, you’ll find that efficiency gained in stockroom arrangement and stockroom setup significantly adds to employee morale and safety.
Your retail floor is where customers make their impressions. That’s where you display your business professionalism and the quality of your products. Positive feelings usually lead to repeat customers, which lead to increased sales and a healthy year-end profit.
Most customers never see your stockroom. They have no idea about your stockroom organization methods. However, your stockroom is the backbone or headquarters of your retail business. If your stockroom isn’t efficiently organized, that can lead to chaos which spreads out to your showroom floor.
Well organized stockrooms follow proven materials management processes. That involves having the right products, in adequate amounts, at the proper place, at the right time and at the best quality level to serve your customer demand. It also has to be at the best cost for your business. That might sound like an unachievable goal, but it’s not. It helps to think of proven material management techniques as a three-step process:
- Step 1: This is your acquisition step. It involves your purchase or sourcing methods and then your receiving structure. Efficient stockroom organization allows material and product input to arrive, be sorted and then placed without confusion or delay.
- Step 2: The second stockroom management phase is controlling your inventory. This means that you know everything about your stock from the inventory level to its seasonal rotation. Good stockroom organization lets your staff and inventory control systems to monitor and locate goods exactly when they’re needed.
- Step 3: Movement of your stock is the third part of a material management process. You have to move your inventory into your stockroom efficiently and then move it through to your customer. That’s for both retail displays on the sales floor and upon direct customer demand.
Efficiently accommodating these three material management steps requires sufficient stockroom space. Many retail business owners think they suffer from a lack of stockroom space. Usually, this is more of a perception than a reality.
It’s often a problem of not making the best use of space. Stockroom space is more than just horizontal floor area. Real stockroom efficiency comes from capitalizing on vertical space, as well. Your entire stockroom volume is available and ready, provided you use it wisely. To help you transform underutilized stockroom space into active storage room, you need to implement the best stockroom organization methods.
Stockroom Organization Tips
If you’re searching for efficient retail storeroom organization methods, you’ll find a tremendous amount of information online. Unfortunately, you’ll spend a lot of time sorting through it all trying to get a comprehensive list of what works in your stockroom. At Summit Storage Solutions, we’re America’s experts in vertical storage carousels as well as building custom rack solutions. To help you organize your storage space more efficiently, here are the best retail stockroom organization tips that we’ve found:
1. Assess Your Current Layout and Move Upward
If you’re like most American retailers, your building design restricts you in some way. You can’t change its perimeter or support structure without a significant expense. There’s likely no long-term return on a renovation investment, so the best option is assessing your current layout and making the most of it. That means moving upward.
It’s best to think of your storage space in a three-dimensional model. You’ve probably reached maximum horizontal storage capacity and have stacked up. That might be from necessity, rather than from planned practicality. But you might be restricting yourself with fixed shelving.
Have you considered the many benefits and advantages gained from vertical carousel storage? Carousels are rotating lifts of shelving that raise your inventory products up from the floor and toward the ceiling. You’ll save significant floor space and maximize vertical space with carousels.
Regardless of what retail industry you’re doing business in, Summit Storage Solutions has a vertical carousel storage solution for you. That includes the garment industry, printing businesses, flooring suppliers, automotive tire and parts shops and wire spool retailers. Summit Storage Solutions designs, engineers and builds custom carousels for many other retail businesses, too.
2. Reduce Your Aisle Space While Making It More Efficient
Let’s face it. If you didn’t have aisles, you’d have a lot more storage area in your stockroom. But aisles are a fact of life in every storage space, large or small, and they take up a lot of space. However, there are ways you can reduce your aisle space to make your stockroom more efficient.
Some stockrooms may dedicate up to half their floor area to aisle space. In a 5,000 square foot storage room, that’s 2,500 feet of aisle space. Stockroom aisles should be no wider than absolutely necessary for people and order-picking equipment to operate. By tightening aisle width and using compact equipment, you can easily increase usable floor space. That saved floor space can then multiply into a vertical storage area.
Aisle width and total floor space suffer a lot of waste when businesses use the wrong sized storage racks. Racks and shelves should only be wide enough to hold the products they’re destined for. That can be pallets, boxes or any type of collapsible container. The right-sized storage racks can make a huge difference in maximizing both horizontal and vertical storage area.
3. Tighten Your Inventory Control
Every business has its challenges in tightening inventory control. Consumer practices continually change from factors like seasonal fluctuations, customer preferences, stock availability and increased demand for certain items. Knowing what inventory is moving and what’s not lets you discount or discard old products and make way for better-controlled inventory.
Improving inventory cycle count is highly effective for managing stock and stockroom storage space. Many retail operations rely on a once-per-year inventory check which significantly slows or stops business while the count takes place. By changing your inventory count to a weekly or monthly cycle, you’ll have a better handle on what you should be stocking and what you shouldn’t.
Cycle systems for inventory counting also alleviate your need for extra staff or expensive overtime to complete audits on a tight time frame. This will require less workforce, and you’ll be able to reduce stock that’s dormant and replace it with in-demand products. You’ll save wasted stockroom space and be able to use it on profitable materials.
4. Use Stockroom Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Smart business managers constantly watch key performance indicators to track their business objectives. KPI monitoring goes beyond improving inventory counts with cycle systems. KPIs can tell you a lot about what’s happening in your company. Properly interpreted, KPIs give you better stockroom organization.
Key performance indicators vary from business to business. In the retail sector, managers watch factors such as inventory turnover, supply-days, sell-through percentage, sales-to-stock ratios and gross return on investment margins. Understanding what KPI metrics are telling you lets you better manage inventory which also helps you achieve superior stockroom organization.
KPI metrics also give you qualitative information besides quantitative. KPI quality feedback informs you of important and non-tangible things like employee satisfaction and buy-in levels. After all, stockroom workers are a highly valuable asset. They’re also worth listening to for their input on stockroom organization.
5. Involve Your People in Organizing Your Stockroom
No one knows what’s going on in your retail stockroom better than the people who work there. Stockroom employees spend their entire day—or night, as the case may be—inside the stockroom. They see and experience what’s efficient and what’s a waste of space, time and money.
Employee input can be some of the most valuable information you can get when it comes to improving your stockroom organization. Besides valuable feedback, it’s basically free. There’s little need to contract an outside consultant when your own workforce likely has more expertise.
There’s a trick to involving your own stockroom workers for organizational improvement help. They have to feel like they’re appreciated and allowed to speak freely. This starts with a corporate culture that respects worker input and encourages improvement recommendations. Time-proven techniques like face-to-face floor time, employee committees and anonymous suggestion boxes are effective at improving stockroom organization.
6. Use Signage, Labels and Message Boards
Effective communication is vital to efficient stockroom organization. Everyone in your stockroom needs to be on the same page. Using visual devices like signs, labels and message boards lets your employees recognize directions, find products and inform each other of new information.
Make sure that whatever signage you use appears professional. Posting handwritten notes doesn’t have the same impact or effect that properly produced notices have. People naturally pay more attention and work more attentively when they’re in an environment that takes organization seriously.
The same applies for labels on containers and boxes. To organize efficiently, workers have to know at a glance what they’re looking at and where to look for it. Digital photos of container contents are especially effective. So are whiteboard message spots where stockroom workers can quickly pass on a quick but important organizational note.
7. Clean Up Your Stockroom
Clutter tends to build more clutter. Eventually, clutter becomes overwhelming and your workers become subconsciously demoralized. They lose products, can’t find other materials and they generally waste time searching among the mess.
De-cluttering is part of a well-run retail stockroom organizational plan. Besides there always being a place for everything and everything in its place, clean stockrooms need proper receptacles for waste packaging and throw-aways. Immediately clean up spills or debris that could cause safety hazards as well as lead to disorganization.
Cleaning up your stockroom also involves beautifying it. Employees perform far better in a well-painted and brightly-lit workspace. They also work much more safely. And, while, you’re cleaning, painting and lighting, don’t overlook adding some cheery plants to the environment. Everyone in your organization will appreciate plants if you can make room for them.
8. Invest in Quality, American-Made Stockroom Organizing Equipment
They say you get what you pay for, and this is certainly applicable when it comes to stockroom organizing equipment. Quality vertical storage equipment like electric carousels and custom-made vertical racks bring an excellent return on investment. With American-made storage and stockroom organizational equipment from Summit Storage Solutions, you’ll never have to worry about product damage or structural failure. That leads to a safer, more efficient and better organized retail business.
There’s no doubt that the key to efficient stockroom organization is making maximum use of your vertical storage space. To do this, you need the right systems in place. You need quality storage equipment from a reputable supplier. That’s where Summit Storage Solutions comes in.
Investigate what Summit Storage Solutions offers you and then contact us for more information. We’re America’s leading designer, manufacturer and installer of vertical carousel storage systems and custom-made vertical storage rack solutions. We’re also a leader in providing excellent customer service.
Why Work With Summit Storage Solutions?
Because Summit Storage Solutions is an American company and makes all products right here in the U.S., you’re assured of getting the best possible quality at the most competitive prices. You’re also guaranteed of getting the best stockroom storage advice and customer service when you work with Summit Storage Solutions. We help you reclaim space, increase productivity and store all your products efficiently.
Summit Storage Solutions also offers you extensive access to custom design options. Our engineers will evaluate your unique needs and develop a custom vertical storage solution for your stockroom. That includes a revolving vertical carousel system or manufacture vertical storage racks.
For more information on how Summit Storage Solutions can help you organize your retail stockroom or other business challenges, call us today at 610-921-1119. You can also reach us online and start finding the right solution for your stockroom today.