Did you know that, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the warehousing and storage field has been on a steady increase over the past decade? As a matter of fact, US businesses have added, on average, an additional 1,000 warehouses and distribution centers per year since 2008. It’s a notable statistic, but if you are someone who is already working in a management role within the field, it’s hardly a shocking one. As consumer demand for products hawked by e-commerce and omnichannel retailers continues to spread, so will the number of warehouses.
For professionals with all levels of experience in the warehousing spectrum, these facts spell great news in terms of job security, whether it be for the greenest of warehouse associates, or those working in longstanding operational roles. Among these positions is the coveted warehouse manager spot, one that carries with it plenty of control, autonomy, and a notable pay hike. That being said, it’s also a role that demands a sharp mind, a cool composure, and acquired skills aplenty.
Let’s take a look at the top 6 key skills that every warehouse manager should have:
1. A good understanding of the industry’s leading software systems
As with most other trends today, high-technology rules when it comes to building an operation’s digital infrastructure. For warehouse managers, specifically, warehouse management software systems, more commonly known as WMSs, are the very organizational models that keep the modern operation up, running, and organized. Those working in management positions should be aware of how WMSs (and other, more comprehensive systems, such as WESs), work so that they can be easily implemented in the most efficient ways possible.
2. An ability to research and invest in automation
Lightning-fast fulfillment offered to customers by today’s e-commerce behemoths has made all competitors scramble. Luckily, warehouses can stand up to big guys by investing in automation, particularly picking-related automation, which just so happens to be simple to implement and relatively low-cost. A warehouse manager who has their finger on the pulse of emerging and established technologies should have a good starting point for automation purchasing and integration.
3. A keen understanding of the importance of warehouse layout
Designing a warehouse layout is a fundamental building block of operational success. That said, even if a warehouse manager is well-versed in the art, it doesn’t mean that they have the necessary fortitude to see it through into the future. You see, creating the layout of a warehouse doesn’t stop when all physical infrastructure is put into place and operations start running; instead, it should be planned in such a way that it is flexible enough to redesign during peaks and other unforeseen disruptive events. Once a warehouse manager has the chops to bring these skills to the table, they allow all other departments to create and test in the freest ways possible.
4. A head for safety and first aid
According to federal statistics surrounding warehousing and distribution, the field is one of the most regulated in the country, and for good reason – associates are consistently made to operate and work alongside heavy machinery, sometimes at ultra-fast speeds. Because of this, adept warehouse managers must be fully aware of both the legal and common sense guidelines attached to warehouse safety. Bonus points, if the warehouse manager has comprehensive first aid training if a harmful situation were to occur.
5. An ability to emphasize associate training
As demand for products increases, companies must now look to alternative ways to keep their shifts filled. With on-demand hiring platforms like Wonolo, it’s never been easier to secure extra top-notch operational assistance when you need it the most. That said, even the best-equipped on-demand warehouse associates must be given thorough and accurate leads to follow. It is the responsibility of the warehouse manager to ensure that any and all associates are given the proper information necessary to work in that specific warehouse. Often, these associates come to the plate with plenty of relevant experience, but if unique goals and processes aren’t communicated prior to them hitting the floor, these talented associates cannot work to their full potential.
6. A head for analysis that supports good customer service
These days, warehouse managers have instant access to more metrics than ever before, thanks to the wide use of automation and cloud-based software. Ostensibly, this scenario makes room for much in the way of strategy-based analysis – and, there are many ways to look at it. For warehouse managers, specifically, it’s key to consider this data strictly as it relates to customer service. Ensure that all counts are accurate, focus energy on replenishment, and always keep quality at the top of the list!
Though these are just a few key skills that all warehouse managers should have, they are the ones that are most important for the health of today’s operations. Always keep abreast of the latest technologies, and know where to find the best, most reliable associates possible. Once these skills are honed, your management style will be stronger than ever.