Technology has made retail more dynamic than ever — and that includes warehouse management. We can optimize warehouses and ensure compliance more efficiently. By implementing the right tools, warehouse compliance inspections can take a fraction of the time while the data becomes more accurate and actionable. But the retail industry is saturated with tech and tools. That’s why we’ve put together a list of features and considerations for choosing your warehouse inspection software.
Know the features you need
While every retailer’s needs are different, there are a few key features you’ll want to consider when evaluating warehouse inspection solutions. Here are some suggestions for features to look for when considering software for warehouse inspections:
Customizable forms and checklists
While there are standard warehouse inspection procedures, each retail business has compliance needs unique to its vertical. In fact, each warehouse location has unique needs. That’s where customizable forms and checklists come in handy.
For example, you can use customizable checklists to verify receiving procedures are compliant with regulations and best practices. Or, create a checklist to ensure warehouse employees follow safety guidelines for heavy machinery and satisfactory productivity levels.
When crises come up, like COVID-19, having the ability to upload and deploy specialized inspection materials in -real-time helps you react more quickly and keep employees safe while protecting your operations.
With a tool like Compliant IA, you can conduct warehouse inspections and audits with configurable checklists in multiple languages.
Mandatory photo capture
Sometimes people need to see things to understand concepts more clearly. This rings true for warehouse inspections, too — especially when it comes to diagnosing and solving an issue. Look for a solution with the ability to take photos and upload them to the warehouse inspection software for documentation and collaboration.
Photo capture also helps head office and teams to know what is happening across all warehouse even when they can’t be on site. This is essential for monitoring the progress of special projects.
For example, after completing a recent acquisition, one retailer used Compliant IA for consolidating and relocating 80+ distribution centers. Checklists were completed up to the point the project had progressed with numerous photos attached to document headway. Rather than manually fiddling with a spreadsheet using only words, they were able to create dynamic reports with photo documentation in a few clicks. This workflow gave head office an easy to review history of each distribution center’s progress.
Warehouse inspections are only as valuable as you make them. If you discover non-compliant issues but do not assign them for resolution, you leave your warehouse and business open to serious risk. Choose warehouse inspection software that automatically creates action plans so you can proactively address issues.
One home improvement retailer uses Compliant IA to conduct their weekly hazardous waste inspections. The software sends recommendations and associated tasks to ensure compliance. The retailer also attaches directives for properly handling materials in case of a spill.
Health and safety
Health and safety is especially important in the current retail environment, and your warehouse inspection software should have features dedicated to this category. Warehouses pose lots of hazards for workers. It’s crucial to take measures to mitigate falls, ensure training is up to date for employees handling chemicals, and keep equipment maintained for safe usage, among other things.
And now, warehouses need to be fully sanitized and stocked with sanitizing materials and any required protective equipment. Additionally, with physical distancing protocols in place and changing often, you need to be able to craft, distributed, and execute policy updates.
Compliant IA is full of health and safety features for warehouse inspections. With it, you can create an unlimited amount of inspection checklists and assign corrective actions, allowing you to nip problems in the bud — before they become liabilities.
Other health and safety features to look for in warehouse inspection software include procedures and standards sharing to multiple sites, health and safety compliance reporting, and task assignment to ensure required actions are taken to address any issues.
User management and collaboration
Franchises have multiple stores, warehouses, and teams (fulfillment and operations, logistics, purchasing, etc.) that need to use and access the warehouse inspection tools, both remotely and on-site. You’ll want to make note of your team’s size and needs both now and in the future and ensure the warehouse inspection software accommodates those needs and can scale with your growth.
Compliant IA offers unlimited users and sites, as well as hierarchical permissions levels so you can adjust who has access to which inspections. “Prior to using Compliant IA, we lacked follow-up from our store visits with our teams,” says a senior manager of store operations and customer service at BevMo. “By using Compliant IA, we now have feedback loops built in.” In fact, 88% of retailers that use Compliant IA say it improves store communication and execution.
Customer and technical support
If you operate a multi-location business across various time zones (and even countries), it’s important to find a warehouse inspection software with accessible technical support to help you around the clock. Look for 24/7 support available via phone, live chat, and email. Some warehouse inspection software options also have their own community forums and support content where you can self-serve.
Compatibility and ease of use
If you plan to implement the warehouse inspection software across all locations, it needs to be user-friendly. The more difficult a program is to use, the less chances you have of widespread adoption. Not to mention, you’ll invest less resources into training and onboarding. Make a list of the important individuals who will be using the warehouse inspection software, both on the front and back end, and get buy-in from someone in each of those departments.
Beyond that, you also need the warehouse inspection software to work with the rest of your existing tech stack, as well as any tech you plan to implement in the future. Consider if the warehouse inspection software works on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and other devices that your team may or may not have access to.
A warehouse inspection software with an open API allows businesses to build and customize their own integrations. Compliant IA uses an open API to programmatically export data, as well as a Microsoft Azure single sign-on (SSO) to integrate with user management systems. This allows retailers to automate operating procedures to reduce repetitive work and boost productivity.
Moving forward with your warehouse inspection software
In sum, when looking for a warehouse inspection software, look for:
- Customizable forms and checklists
- Mandatory photo capture
- Action plans
- Health and safety
- User management and collaboration
- Customer and technical support
- Compatibility and ease of use.
About the author:
Alexandra Sheehan works with B2B companies in the retail, e-commerce, and travel sectors to create strategies and expert longform, website, and blog content. You can see her work on sites like Shopify, Vend, Stitch Labs, Money Under 30, and more. thealexsheehan.com.