Fit-for-purpose warehousing key for Scottish businesses planning to expand internationally in 2016, says Fife storage specialist
Efficient warehousing is essential for successful exporting and will be key for Scottish businesses planning to expand internationally in 2016, according to a Fife firm, which has helped to facilitate international trade for a number of companies in the Kingdom thanks to its storage solutions.
While transport and distribution are key to successful exporting, storage is another important logistic to consider and could make or break a company’s success overseas, says Fife Group, which provides serviced warehousing to both large and small enterprises, from national drinks and food companies to SMEs in the manufacturing industry.
Good quality storage – paired with an efficient warehousing system – should be one of the top priorities for companies embarking on international trade, says the storage specialist, which is keen to share its Top Warehousing Tips for Exporting as part of Fife Business Week.
Managing Director John Kilgour explained: “When it comes to transporting products overseas – and, in particular, when shipping or flying stock – it’s essential that all goods are packed, labelled, documented and insured properly.
“This is impossible to do unless you have an efficient means of storing, locating, auditing, quality controlling and managing your stock before it hits the road.
“Putting good systems in place in the warehouse and getting organised at the Scottish end, on the other hand, will reduce the risk of any problems or mix-ups further on down the line.
“You want to make sure you put your best foot forward and that your products arrive in good condition – therefore proper storage and packing is essential.
“Storing your goods in a shabby, poorly-organised backroom or leaky shed is only going to cost you in the long-run so it pays to think about your bottom line when deciding where to house – and, ultimately, manage your stock.
“What’s more, it can mean saving time and a much smoother-running process in the long-term – meaning you can shift stock faster and exceed your customers’ expectations.
“Remember, organisation is king.”
Fife Group says this applies equally to local companies importing components from overseas as part of their manufacturing process.
That’s why the firm offers Hub stock services – enabling overseas suppliers to hold stock with Fife Group until they are required for the manufacturing process and when they can be delivered locally.
Overseas companies normally pick up the cost of storage, which makes it more economical for Fife-based manufacturers.
“In this world of ‘just in time supplies’, it’s essential that stocks of key components sourced overseas are held locally,” says John.
Fife Group, which is a member of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), provides tailor-made warehousing and stock logistics solutions at a number of Fife locations, where it can store, handle and distribute goods on behalf of Scottish businesses.
It has more than 50 years industry experience and can also offer both large and small businesses container services (loading and unloading), computerised stock control, supply chain management, order picking, packing, distribution, fulfilment, re-work and hub services.
Here are its Top Warehousing Tips for Exporting:
Organisation is your best friend – or at least it should be
Being organised saves time and money – fact. If you’re warehouse lacks organisation, your whole operation is likely to suffer. Develop a system that works and stick to it.
Apply logic to your logistics (and picking and packing)
Create ‘pick lists’ and allocate your team accordingly.
Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Inspect and put products away as soon as they come in and report damages or discrepancies immediately. Otherwise, you will lose stock.
Re-evaluate regularly and reorganise if need be
What worked last year – when you were possibly smaller, had less staff and shifted less product – might not be working for you now so make sure you re-evaluate your systems and processes regularly and re-jig if appropriate – just don’t forget to brief your team so everyone can stay on the right track.
Don’t forget to keep your warehouse a safe place to work. Make sure you carry out risk assessments, supply health and safety training and appropriate equipment, as well as good lighting.
Shop around and take up free software trials to get a feel for what works for your company. The right software will really streamline the process and make your life – and work – a lot simpler.
Remember customer service
Make sure that when your goods eventually do leave the warehouse, you can track them and update customers, in real-time, on their whereabouts.