For three years now, businesses have had to contend with disruption to their supplies – and revenue. With the supply chain crisis showing little sign of easing, astute warehouse logistics will maximise your revenue, improve customer loyalty and keep your business moving.
- What is warehouse logistics?
- What’s causing supply chain issues in the UK?
- Business strategies to reduce supply chain chaos
- Types of warehousing
- Role of warehousing in logistics
- Inventory and stock control
- Warehouse operations
- Partnering for warehouse logistics
- Request a warehouse logistics quote
What is warehouse logistics?
A simple definition of warehouse logistics is everything that happens inside a warehouse – from storage to stock management, container destuffing to cargo handling, security to staffing. When goods come in, they need to be safely unloaded, logged onto the stock management system (including fulfilment times and product information, if required) and stored ready for onward distribution.
Businesses may have their own warehouse logistics and storage facilities for this, or they may outsource services to a third-party logistics (3PL) supplier and specialist.
What’s causing supply chain issues in the UK?
A perfect storm of events is still putting pressure on global supply chain networks – as one situation eases, another starts to impact.
COVID-19 led to shortages from panic buying, border restrictions, factory shutdowns and staffing issues. Later, the flow of goods was hit by a capacity crunch, particularly in global sea freight, as economies re-opened and demand for goods soared. Brexit added to the UK supply chain challenges with new trade barriers and processing delays.
The supply of goods is still being affected from these impacts but also from: the war in Ukraine, macroeconomic pressures including inflation risks, consumer demand for fast-delivery e-commerce, and climate-related weather events. For example, the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) said recently that domestic and international supply chains are particularly vulnerable to disruption as they’re “built with a focus on speed and efficiency”.
Business strategies to reduce supply chain chaos
UK supply chains urgently need to become more resilient, said the CCC. It suggests a few actions to improve supply chain resilience, including:
- collaborative planning and control with suppliers and infrastructure operators
- diversifying the geographic location of suppliers – to spread supply disruption risk across more regions
- diversifying supply routes and transportation modes – to spread supply disruption risk across different parts of the transport system.
Many of our customers have successfully worked around supply chain shortfalls by overstocking. They’ve ordered and stored commodities, components and final products in warehouses all over the UK. But overstocking is a drain on cash flow. Businesses also need to optimise 3PL warehouse logistics to buy, store and manage their goods more efficiently.
How to improve warehouse logistics
With warehousing storage and warehouse logistics in high demand, you need to:
- understand your options – warehousing types, services, locations
- ensure you maximise the opportunities in warehouse logistics – improve inventory turnover, improve record keeping, etc
- avoid inaccurate inventory management that can lose revenue and customers
- find a cost-efficient, reliable warehousing partner offering value-added services.
Types of warehousing
When looking for a warehouse logistics solution, you need to know your options – and how each affects your bottom line. Cost savings can be had by switching to cheaper warehousing locations, for example, or through more effective and efficient distribution for your goods.
Four main types of warehousing and their benefits:
- UK distribution centre – short-term storage facilities with a fast turnaround of goods from supplier to customer; offers high capacity customer-centric e-commerce services
- Bonded (customs) warehouse – allows you to store goods before being processed by customs; reduces paperwork and suspends payment of duty or import VAT payments for up to five years
- Public warehouse – government-owned; offers affordable rented storage space for businesses needing for short-term storage or overflow
- Private warehouse – owned by businesses or 3PL providers; offers potential locations close to local markets or business operations; multi-user solutions for storage, 3PL warehouse operations and onward distribution.
Role of warehousing in logistics
Warehousing and logistics are related but slightly different terms. So what’s the difference?
Warehousing Is the physical storing of goods in a warehouse. Warehouse operations include unloading, checking goods into the warehouse management system, and storage of goods, either short or long-term. It asks: what goods are being stored, how much space is needed and for how long? It may also include basic cargo handling and inventory monitoring. Warehouse storage solutions lets you store stock temporarily, and maximise revenue by serving customers and local markets at speed.
Logistics deals more with how your goods are stored, managed, moved, transported and distributed. It asks many more questions and tailors solutions to the needs of the business. There are three main types of logistics: inbound logistics for goods coming in; outbound logistics for goods going out; and reverse logistics for returned goods.
The right mix of logistics and warehousing can oil the wheels of your supply chain and maximise revenue opportunities.
Improving your logistics
Consider reviewing your processes and looking for cost savings around:
- maximising storage space
- inventory and stock control
- order processing and pick/pack/fulfilment
- warehouse operations and locations
- transportation services and solutions.
Inventory and stock control
Having total visibility of your stock levels is vital to the flow of goods and the smooth running of your business. That’s where inventory management and stock control comes in. Advanced warehouse management (AWM) systems enhance stock visibility providing real-time data using cloud-based software. AWM can record both sale and purchase transactions, letting you monitor orders and stock.
Customers now want a fast delivery. Maintaining or increasing revenue means having the products ready to fill customer orders and delivering them faster or more reliably than competitors. Holding a smaller inventory level, or not being able to deliver quickly to local markets, runs the risk of shortages, failing customer expectations or even not getting an order in the first place.
Great inventory management boosts both customer loyalty and your sales team’s ability to sell products. It plays a crucial role in your multichannel strategy.
Optimising your warehouse logistics processes will allow you to streamline operations. Efficient processing will not only reduce cost and errors, but help achieve a higher, more perfect order rate that will help maximise revenues.
The six fundamental warehouse processes are:
- putaway (location)
Partnering for warehouse logistics
Choosing a warehousing and/or logistics partner is an important step in the process, especially when outsourcing to a third party.
You want to avoid those that are disorganised, manage inventory poorly, show disregard for health and safety, fail to automate or measure performance, or use substandard, insecure storage facilities – all of these risk adversely affecting your business and revenue.
The right warehouse logistics partner will be:
- experienced in the market
- flexible to your needs
- responsive to issues
- cost-effective (location and services)
- offer KPI and stock management
- able to optimise your warehouse operations
- fully alarmed with 24-7 CCTV
- close to local markets for faster delivery
Your partner for warehouse logistics in the UK
International Forwarding Ltd (IFL) is a member of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) – leading trade organisation for the logistics sector – which means we follow best practice in our warehousing services. Our partners range from small local business to global blue chip clients importing/exporting internationally. Our industry solutions dovetail with your needs through a range of storage facilities and warehouse logistics, including:
- bulk pallet storage
- short- or long-term storage contracts
- full KPI and stock management
- warehouse management services for inventory visibility
- dock levellers for all container unloads
- destuff and palletise handball containers
- competitive all-risks insurance
- fully alarmed, 24-hour CCTV storage facilities
- West Midlands facilities at the heart of the UK motorway network
- Platinum membership of the Palletways UK network (delivery to most UK destinations overnight)
Location is everything for both cost savings and speedy distribution. Our three large warehousing facilities lie in the UK’s ‘golden logistics triangle’ – an area within a four-hour drive of 90% of the British population. We’re located within easy reach of the M1, M5, M6 and M42 motorways, two Midlands airports and the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham. Through our membership of Palletways, we also deliver to most UK destinations overnight.
Request a warehouse logistics quote
Working in an industry known for its tight margins, we know how to optimise warehouse logistics to support revenues through uncertain times. Having a solid strategy can help you navigate supply chain uncertainties and keep operating business-as-usual (BAU).
Get in touch today to discuss your warehouse logistics needs and get a quote from our experienced team.