Data-driven logistics: tips & tricks for warehousing

As we said in part one of the blogpost: big data is going to play a bigger and bigger role in almost every sector, also logistics. In the first part we talked about transportation. In this part we will discuss warehousing: How to manage your inventory or warehouse efficiently?

  1. Transport: how to make the planning of your fleet and reduce costs?
  2. Warehouse: How to manage your inventory efficiently?

Just like transportation, warehousing covers a pretty big part of the total expenses for many types of companies. Those costs might not seem as obvious as the costs of transportation but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep track of them. For total warehousing costs it’s also very important to have a good oversight. Belgian retailer Wara is a good example of why inventory management is important to track:

In Cumul.io, we can easily follow up on our stock: amount of items in stock, where they are stocked, when they were purchased,… A quick analysis showed us that 23% of a 2-year-old stock had never been exposed in-store. Now, we’re able to spot these issues before they happen, which saves us a lot of money. It helps us define on which part of our stock we need to take action most urgently.

These kind of insights help you to prevent wasting a lot of money in your organization on an inefficient warehouse, without noticing it.

How to start reporting on KPIs for warehousing and logistics?

How much are the total warehousing costs? What is the inventory accuracy? How much is the inventory turnover? How much is the inventory to sales ratio? What about the stock rotation and lead time?

In warehousing and logistics there are a lot of elements, metrics or ratios that are interesting and important to keep track of. When one of these elements, metrics or ratios, for example inventory turnover suddenly has a different value, it can be very interesting to see why it happened.

Therefore, it’s very important that you and your company keep an eye on this information about your warehouse. It can help discover your company’s opportunities or threats.

Luckily, you are not in this alone. There are a lot of tools that help you manage your warehouse efficiently. This often includes analyzing the data you have about your warehouse. An example: apps that keep track of your inventory across all your warehouses. Just like for transportation (part one), these applications really help giving you a good overview of your logistics data.

However, you shouldn’t just analyze data and keep track of data just to analyze data. You need to keep in mind what you want to achieve when doing so. After you’ve clearly spelled out your goals regarding warehousing, you should figure out what KPIs you should keep track of in order to achieve what you wanted to achieve. Have you done that? Good. Now it’s just a matter of visualizing those metrics you want to analyze further.

What are common warehousing metrics to track?

It is possible to analyze every piece of data you have, although you don’t necessarily have to do that to be successful in your reporting. You don’t need every piece of information about your warehouse for your business in particular. You need to ask yourself what information is important for your department. In this case, for example, you’ll want to understand how your warehousing processes are running, and how you can further optimize them.

This important information for your department can be translated into KPIs. These KPIs should align to the goals your company set. It should be KPIs that really set goals or solves struggles. Here are some more tips on choosing the right KPIs.

To help you start off, we made a list of potentially interesting KPIs for warehousing. This could give you a good basis to start off with. You can expand this with more niche KPIs specifically for your case.

 # orders shipped# items in stockinventory accuracyTotal priceTotal revenue
Product
Ordering country
Type of warehousing cost
Time

Creating warehousing dashboards

The goals are set. The important KPIs have been selected. Now it’s time to present them as visually and up-to-date as possible. Real-time dashboards are a good solution.

Are you still looking for the right tool to report on your warehousing data? We’ve made an example warehousing dashboard to give you an idea how it would look if you want to visualize your KPIs.

Play around with the embedded dashboard below, to discover how it works.


Conclusion

Also in warehousing you can make a big difference when you start visualizing your data in order to make better business decisions.

Now it’s your turn! Start using your data and get more out of your warehousing!

Are you active in warehousing, looking to offer these kind of insights inside your platform? Get in touch, and we’ll show you how easily it’s done!

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