When looking for a new warehouse partner, chances are that your number one priority is to make sure that your products will be stored safely, securely and that they won’t be lost or damaged during transit. Not only can poor warehouse management result in the loss or damage of a product (which also means time and money for you) but it could also potentially harm your brand’s reputation amongst your customers. So how do you know when you’ve found the right warehouse partner? One of the key indicators should be transparency.
Evidence of Transparency in the Warehouse
Transparency is about a lot more than just trust. Yes, it’s a good thing when a warehouse partner freely provides information about their services and operations and will also tell you if something goes wrong. But this won’t do you much good if you’re losing products due to organizational errors and damage. The following are a few key indicators of transparency that you should look for when on the hunt for a suitable warehouse partner:
- The functionality of their warehouse management system – A good warehouse management system (WMS) will make it easy to access data in real time, including inventory data, order status, and productivity metrics. It will allow you to see the efficiency of their workforce. Additionally, their management system should enable them to easily track receiving, order picking, shipping, inventory audits, and item movement.
- The ease of use of their warehouse management system – The easier the system is to use, the better. A good warehouse system should allow everyone the ability to log on with ease and get the information they need at their fingertips. This can aid in reducing onboarding time for new users, as well as the risk of seeing potential errors.
- Their ability to scale – Whether the warehouse is growing and taking on new customers or your business is growing along with your supply chain needs; your new warehouse partner needs to demonstrate their ability to scale.
- Their willingness to disclose their track record – Set up a few meetings with some of their current customers to find out how they handle their supply chain. Visit their customer sites to see how the warehouse’s system performs in any given setting. At Merchandise Warehouse, we even disclose some of our metrics right on our website. Metrics are essential to proving both past and future performance.
- The effort to keep you in the loop – Communication is an important part of transparency. Your warehouse partner should tell you how they plan on keeping you up-to-date and how often they plan to do so. Regular meetings with your team will help keep you in the loop and will provide you with a sense of control over the process.
- Their plan on how to deal with disruptions – A good warehouse partner won’t just have a robust warehouse management system in place that will prevent disruptions in the supply chain, but a plan of action if one occurs. Interruptions will happen, and it is only the best warehouse partners that can quickly resolve issues and return you back to normal operation. Don’t be tricked by a warehouse service that believes their system is foolproof because no system is.
As you can see, transparency is not just about communication. It’s also about the ability to see how their warehouse works in real time and to be able to see the various organizational components down to the very last detail. This kind of transparency is what allows you to identify a reliable warehouse partner. Choose wisely.
This post was originally published on June 29, 2017 and updated on June 18, 2019.