Our Global Geniuses Answer Your Top Retail Material Handling Questions
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Retailers have a wide range of needs when it comes to material handling, from moving stock off delivery trucks and into the storeroom, to bringing it onto the sales floor, and, finally, presenting it to customers. Increasingly, retailers are also handling ecommerce order fulfillment right from their stores, coordinating pickups with last-mile delivery providers and customers themselves. This adds another layer of material handling needs, and it requires increased efficiency from store operations.
Global Industrial supplies a wide range of products that can help teams move product swiftly along at each step of the way, prepare and fulfill orders, and store inventory and supplies so they are easy to find and remain safe from damage.
Our product experts regularly field questions from retail customers about how to put those products to work for their operation. Below, our product experts share a few of the most common questions they get from customers about material handling in retail spaces.
My retail business is growing quickly, and I’m struggling to keep up. How can I design an inventory storage system that can grow with my needs?
This is a challenging proposition but having the right material handling products and storage systems can help. When planning your space, first think about your processes and how the steps line up. Then, make sure that flow is reflected in your layout and physical infrastructure. For example, store your most popular inventory in a location that’s easy to access. If you’re preparing orders on-site, locate your workbench or packing station nearby.
To avoid bottlenecks in your workflow, dedicate space and equipment to each step. If your storage area is large, consider using material handling equipment such as conveyors, hand trucks, and pallet jacks to move items, easing the strain on your workers.
Finally, don’t expect to get your setup just right the first time. Instead, fine-tune it as you go. To make this easier on your team, choose storage infrastructure that can be rearranged or that works with multiple types and sizes of containers and pallets. These systems can be expanded, compressed, or even relocated as your needs change.
What are some ways I can improve safety while unloading trucks on the dock?
Safety on the loading dock is critical. To be effective, safety needs to become part of your organization’s culture. That starts with documenting your policies, training workers, and holding your crew accountable. Properly equipping workers at each step of your loading and unloading process, and the dock itself, is another way to improve safety on the job. Below are a few best practices to consider:
- Proper exterior lighting and the use of high-visibility gear make it easier to see where people are to avoid back-overs and ensure visual signals are properly received.
- Clear striping and high-visibility tape can be used on the dock to demarcate safe zones for trucks, forklifts, as well as foot traffic, and to identify edges and other hazards.
- Bollards and guards can keep visitors out of secure areas, warn of hazards, and protect people and equipment from rolling trucks or forklifts.
- Traction surfaces can help avoid slips around edges and areas that frequently get wet. This is critical at entryways and dock edges.
- Stabilizing jack stands and tire chocks prevent trucks from moving or rolling while people, materials, and equipment travel in and out.
- Dock plates offer additional stability for people and equipment moving on and off the truck.
Don’t forget about education. Train your team in the best practices for safely working on the loading dock, including how to use loading equipment properly and the required PPE. If your company emphasizes safety, your crew will be more likely to take it seriously themselves.
How can I optimize storage and display at the point of sale?
You’ve designed, manufactured, and maybe even shipped your products to your retail space. Now, it’s time to show them off to customers. There are many commercial shelving options to consider based on your needs. Below are a few considerations.
- If your SKUs frequently change, consider adjustable shelving, which allows you to change the dimensions of your storage based on what you are selling.
- The weight of your inventory will also factor in. Gondola shelving, for instance, is heavier duty than floating shelves, though both are very versatile.
- Bins and containers can help organize products on shelves, adding modularity. Closed bottom vessels are ideal for storing liquids, as they can contain spills.
- Storage can be incorporated into your merchandizing setup, such as under tables or along the wall. This frees up space in the back room and organizes inventory that would otherwise be stored in shipping boxes on the sales floor.
- Heavy-duty commercial shelving can be used in storage rooms to bring extra inventory off the floors and out of boxes, freeing up space for additional storage.
- Don’t forget the retail counter, where partial-height displays can showcase smaller wares designed to catch customers’ eyes as they get ready to make a purchase.
Get ready to sell
Whether you’re moving product around a storeroom or showcasing it for consumers in a retail space, Global Industrial supplies products to meet retailers’ wide range of needs. Connect with our product experts to learn more.
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