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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If…There’s A Basic Failure To Communicate

By Kate Vitasek | 10/17/2011 | 5:00 AM

Job one in running a smooth warehouse—and any business for that matter—is understanding what the customer wants and then communicating effectively and continuously. Even more important, the customer must understand what it wants. This basic idea went terribly wrong in this tale related by Ed Romaine, Chief Marketing Officer at Sapient Automation, and formerly VP Marketing at KardexRemstar.



“Is that a problem?” Ya think? I’d say that was definitely a major problem. I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see Ed’s reaction after hearing that! Not only is it a major miscommunication problem, it exposed a basic lack of understanding and awareness of what was happening and the nature of the deal itself on the part of the customer. After more than a year of setting things up and two weeks after the project was completed they change their mind?! What a frustrating waste of time, money and man-hours.

That type of scenario can be avoided by making sure the customer understands what it wants to happen and what will happen during every step of the process from the start. That includes receiving and management, transactions, slotting, storage and inventory control/strategy, communicating with suppliers and carriers about shipment status, and shipping and transportation management. The WERC Best Practices Guide outlines this entire process in a logical and step-by-fashion.

Unfortunately in Ed’s case somebody apparently wasn’t paying very much attention, or perhaps they were just really flakey.

A little communication can go a very long way.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected]. If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free WERC Warehouse Certification Assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).”

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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