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Additional Storage Demand To Manage The Post-Pandemic Shopping Boom

With multiple national lockdowns forcing a change in buyer habits and a public reluctance to be among crowds of shoppers, most retail activity continues to happen online, despite restrictions lifting.

In 2020, 87% of shopping was done online due to restrictions, with clothing and sporting goods seeing the most significant uplift in sales.

Source: https://osome.com/uk/blog/2021-ecommerce-trends/

While this will naturally decrease with shops opening, consumers are often creatures of habit and ease. And so, online shopping is expected to stay popular among consumers, with e-commerce figures staying well above any pre-pandemic numbers*.

So, as Christmas shopping days approach, consumers will want to replace last years’ depressing festive period with the opportunity to feed friends and family, gift the people they couldn’t see last year, and enjoy a Christmas out of lockdown. But, with Christmas 2020 cited as the worst for retail sales in 25-years**, retailers and their supply chains will be looking at ways to manage the incoming shopping boom to reap the most reward in the coming months without bowing under pressure.

**Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55625246

Optimised Pick and Pack

Warehouses will need to optimise their storage and picking capabilities. Given the nature of the pandemic restrictions and guidance allowing for little planning time, managers will need to use the relatively small window of opportunity to maximise the potential of the warehouse and the safety of workers in the busy period. They will need to hire more warehouse staff and train them to be ready for the rush.

Simple yet effective measures for pick optimisation can include equipment such as wire mesh decking, dividers and crates. Wire mesh products fit with a wide range of pallet racking systems and are a cost-effective way to maximise space available, and divide up stock to aid a productive and timely pick. If a warehouse needs to accommodate an influx of seasonal items on top of the BAU inventory, wire mesh solutions are a great way to make quick changes to the workflow and get products out the door.

Warehouses will need to adapt

For seasonal or popular gifts such as televisions, gaming consoles and scooters, to Christmas trees, decorations and food items, warehouses are likely to need different flexible storage solutions to cope with the large products flowing through from supplier to store.

Planning and space optimisation

While time is of the essence, products must reach their destination in excellent condition, and companies must not compromise warehouse worker safety to hit a target. Instead, careful and expert planning with the help of providers such as Nene can help determine what kind of flexible racking solutions are available to support the warehouse.

For example, Nene’s Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking is a fantastic solution for optimising height and width space in a warehouse to accommodate more products for a pick with a combi VNA forklift. Mezzanine flooring is another highly adaptable solution to provide more space and safety in a warehouse. Utilising the height and allowing for clear organisation and workflow, the mezzanine allows for smaller items to go up, leaving the ground floor space for heavy items and pallets.

Short-term racking requirements

Warehouses can also hire racking – a perfect solution for heavily seasonal businesses and SME’s – or even start-ups who perhaps don’t know if they need to make a permanent racking investment just yet. With hire periods spanning between as little as four weeks to as long as five years, Nene can plan and install your chosen racking solution with the best layout to get maximum ROI.

Additional equipment and staff requirements

To support additional temporary and Christmas staff coming into work, warehouses will need to be fit for purpose for people as well as products. Break areas, toilets, and even changing areas where required will need to be suitable for the number of people using them. Managers could consider using spare meeting rooms to extend canteen areas and supply quality additional toilets and sanitation. Nene offers staff lockers for sale and hire, which are a perfect addition to a seasonal staff swell and helps to increase security and employee comfort at the same time.

Safety, signage and workflow

New equipment is only as good as the people using it. With a surge of new staff, tight timescales and targets to meet, now is the critical time to implement staff training before the pressure builds, meaning they are confident and compliant to deal with the influx of work coming their way.
warehouse racking safety signage

The warehouse layout will likely need tweaking or even completely rerouting to optimise the workflow of products and picking. In addition, warehouse managers need to ensure they have the correct signage and make it inclusive to include non-English native speakers, creating a safe and secure environment for all. Nene can help with layout design and racking, through to floor signage and labelling, ensuring warehouses comply with SEMA regulations and are safe places to work.

SEMA racking inspector

Racking inspections will also be an important factor in the Christmas warehouse storage boom, as ensuring the safety of staff is always the highest priority. Nene provides SEMA approved racking inspections and racking inspection training for staff, which are of imperative importance for any business using racking products.

The warehouse industry as a whole needs to prepare to be flexible and adaptable – making the most of what retailers and consumers alike hope will be a complete turnaround on last Christmas. With so much at stake and a real opportunity to regain monetary and customer loyalty losses, thanks to the pandemic, effective planning and decision making with the support of warehouse experts such as Nene will put warehouses in the best position to benefit in the months ahead.