Optimizing Kitting Strategies for Peak Season | Warehouse Operations
Are you feeling the pressure of peak season looming over you? We’ve been in your shoes and we know how to make it easier. We’ll dive deep into how you can improve your kitting services to boost your bottom line, from examining your warehouse layout to implementing practical automation rules.
We also consulted a few kitting pros, Alex Lewkowict of One23 Fulfillment and ShipHero kitting superstar Heather Schwartz, Director of High Touch Fulfillment, PBI, for insight into how to make kitting work for you. Let’s get kitting!
Why Kitting Matters During Peak
Kits offer best-selling products in one attractive package at an irresistible price. Customers love the convenience of these ready-made gift options (especially during the holidays), making them an easy one-click purchase. By promoting kits, eCommerce businesses can drive sales rapidly and effortlessly. With a little pre-planning, you can meet your client’s needs without hassle in your warehouse. Make sure everyone stays merry and bright!
Kitting Preparation | Before Peak
The Warehouse Layout Dilemma
Efficient kitting preparation is essential for businesses to meet peak season demands. One of the significant challenges of kitting is determining the best warehouse layout. Without a defined strategy, warehouses can end up wasting valuable space and manpower, which can lead to delays and errors throughout the shipping process. Planning ahead is essential to optimizing your physical layout for a kitting system that minimizes risk.
Balancing Disruption vs. Efficiency
It may be worth considering a dynamic “hot” pick zone to balance disruption and efficiency in your warehouse. By analyzing your SKU velocity, you can quickly identify the best locations for your fastest-moving items and create a designated area to improve efficiency.
This approach can be beneficial for high-volume items with low SKU counts and items frequently promoted by your marketing team. By implementing a hot pick zone, you can take control of your warehouse operations and streamline your processes for improved productivity and profitability.
Change is Good
Alex Lewkowict overcame challenges managing kitting demands during past peak seasons by changing the kitting processes in the warehouse. One of his most notable changes was creating a dispatching station outside the pack line to streamline the packaging process.
Additionally, he constructed a more efficient pick wall using three shelves and 17 SKUs to handle the volume effectively. This allowed for quick replenishment of inventory behind the pick wall and placement of products in a temporary pallet location for easy access.
As a result, up to 500 items per hour were processed, and the need for an additional picker was eliminated. With Alex’s approach to identifying and addressing bottlenecks, kitting processes at One23 Fulfillment have a near-zero error rate at peak season.
Kitting Training for Peak
Identifying essential skills can make or break a company’s success. For example, Alex flew 10 people out from his Palm Beach warehouse to assist Las Vegas with the sudden surge in demand, exemplifying the importance of adaptability.
By recognizing the strengths of the East Coast warehouse and shifting resources accordingly, Alex was able to maintain a 95% success rate in fulfilling orders within 24 hours. This kind of strategic thinking is essential in navigating the ever-changing landscape of modern business.
Training Programs and Methods
From safety protocols to customer service, employees should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle various situations. Properly trained staff can uphold the company’s standards, minimize risks and ensure the satisfaction of customers.
Communication is critical, as Alex noted after visiting other warehouses where employees didn’t understand the significance of the peak season. It is crucial to ensure that your team is fully equipped to handle the increase in volume while still providing top-notch service.
Kitting Preparation | During Peak
As we’ve learned, don’t make drastic changes during peak season. You want to do your best to avoid bottlenecks, delays, and damages during this time. Kitting is huge for your clients, and knocking it out of the park is essential. You can optimize your kitting process and increase transparency with technology like:
- Warehouse Management System (WMS)
- Barcode and RFID Tags
- Mobile-Powered Carts
- Automated Picking Tools
- Batch and Lot Tracking
The combination of mobile carts and barcodes or RFID tags with an inventory management system can significantly expedite the process.
Effective kitting strategies are critical for managing supply chains during peak seasons. One such strategy that has proven successful is Just-In-Time (JIT) kitting. By assembling kits in the warehouse and delivering them as needed, businesses can be more responsive to demand while keeping inventory levels low. This approach can also streamline processes and make it easier for 3PLs to adapt to changing circumstances.
Automating your kitting system helps you use your warehouse space and resources better and leads to faster product completion and delivery. An automated system eliminates the guesswork for your pickers and packers, ensuring they can complete their tasks quickly and accurately every time.
Focus Areas for Automation
ShipHero’s WMS automation is a straightforward way to automate your warehouse.
- Inserts and Packaging
- Include a warehouse note with orders that contain SKUs that require extra instructions for packaging.
- The Box Type Selection feature is handy when handling fragile items that require special packaging.
- You can include inserts here, such as thank-you notes and coupons.
- VIP Handling
- You can add a gift SKU or marketing insert to these orders, provide express shipping, and prioritize those orders on the day they need to be shipped.
Kitting Preparation | After Peak
Post-Peak Assessment and Adjustments
Once the pressure of peak season ends, start thinking of reverting changes made to your warehouse during the peak rush.
This means moving items that were temporarily placed closer to packers back to their original positions and considering whether kitted items need to be disassembled and put back into their original inventory areas. Strategic reorganization of your warehouse layout through redesign is a big undertaking, but it is necessary for adapting to ever-changing market demands.
Warehouse Kitting Success
Kitting requires strategic planning and thoughtful execution, considering preparation for items like warehouse layout, employee training, automation rules, and strategic reorganization. Following our advice, you can make this peak season a successful experience.
You now have all the tools to effectively streamline your kitting services for peak season. You can ensure that the process runs smoothly with hard work and dedication. Take charge of your success and start taking action now. Don’t let this opportunity slip away; make this your most successful year yet!
- Planning ahead is essential to optimizing kitting services for peak season demands by considering all aspects of the warehouse layout.
- Consider a dynamic hot pick zone to balance disruption and efficiency in the warehouse.
- Implement changes such as creating dispatching stations outside pack lines and more efficient pick walls to improve productivity and profitability.
- Train staff properly on safety protocols, customer service, and the importance of proper preparation.
- Just-in-time kitting is an effective strategy for managing supply chains during peak season.
- Automating your kitting system can expedite product completion and delivery.
- Revert changes made during peak back to their original positions post-peak.