Warehouse Management: When Technology Talks

Quick – without looking – how many SKU’s do you sell in your Micro Markets? 200? 300? More? Most operators can’t answer that question when asked – until they pull a report. Although it’s not a number that needs to be reviewed every day like sales or revenue numbers, it’s an important number to know that impacts the bottom line.

MicroMarkets give operators the ability to offer a wide range of products to their customers. Instead of a limited number of spirals in a machine, they can now offer a wide selection of products to hopefully make everyone open their wallets and buy. To properly take advantage of this an operator has to be able to manage those SKUs and successfully get them from the warehouse to the market.

The Walkie-Talkie Effect

The inventory feature in 365’s SmartHQ is extremely powerful and can provide a world of information to the Operator. By using SmartHQ, Operators can easily see how many products are needed to restock a market by both location and by route. However, they still need a way to take this information and deliver the products their customers desire in a profitable manner. LightSpeed provides the tools to be successful at managing this process. 

SmartHQ sends the pick list to LightSpeed who then converts that data to be sent to a Pick to Light system or to an iPad.  Since a wide selection of SKUs can create inventory issues, LightSpeed provides a quick and easy way to substitute a product or change the quantity of that product and have that changed get pushed to the kiosk automatically without any human intervention.

Map It Out

At the core of the LightSpeed process is mapping.  All SKUs are tied to a virtual bin location so it knows where each product is stored. When the order is pulled into LightSpeed it knows where to have the warehouse picker start and finish taking them through a mapped route that eliminates having to double back. 

The product category feature within LightSpeed allows for even more efficient picking by grouping certain products together in a smaller space. Many operators want to separate market snacks from vending snacks due to the different sizes of the same items. By creating a Market Snacks zone, you can pick those items in a different part of the warehouse separate from vending. The efficiency is gained by picking all the market snacks in a smaller footprint – more picking with fewer steps.

As you could expect, more SKUs to pick means the chance that more mistakes are made. People make mistakes and when you’re picking 140 different SKUs for a market as opposed to 45 for a vending machine, then mistakes happen. LightSpeed allows the picker to only see the current item that needs to be picked. They can’t see the next item until they have confirmed the one currently shown on the screen has been picked. That doesn’t happen with paper.

LightSpeed will make managing your inventory much easier. When the picking is done for the day you can do an inventory transfer and move the product sent to the markets out of your VMS inventory. No more having to manually do that or maintain two different inventories.

To maximize profitability and take advantage of all the benefits that 365’s SmartHQ technology has to offer, the proper tools and processes need to be in place. LightSpeed is a powerful tool that gives the operator the control inside of the warehouse, that 365 provides in the market.