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Temporary Picking Bins – 12 ways they help with seasonal demand

Last Updated 12th October 2021
Posted In: Efficiency & Productivity | Guides & Advice

Cardboard / Correx® Temporary Bins

How flexible pick bin storage can help you meet increased seasonal demand

The golden quarter is upon us. The period that will define the success of a huge number of retailers – particularly after the unprecedented 2020 we all experienced – is eagerly anticipated by ecommerce, high street, and hybrid businesses alike.

But even a successful holiday period can cause headaches. How do you handle extra stock? How can you integrate temporary staff? Ultimately, how do you cope with the (hoped for) increased demand?

Well, much like the 12 days of Christmas, there are 12 ways that temporary picking bins can have a big impact on your success. And – bad jokes aside – this guide covers exactly why you should be considering them at your business.

It covers:

  • How you can maximise space
  • A number of ways that picking efficiency can be improved
  • The flexibility that can be achieved at businesses of all sizes
  • And much more

Please continue reading (no more terrible festive jokes – promise) or use the table of contents below to jump to your specific area of interest.

Quick Reference / Contents

Introduction

Coping with the festive rush

Virtually all businesses will see their operations affected by the change in consumer behaviour during the Christmas period.

Whilst there may be a few that experience a drop in sales (as money is spent elsewhere), the vast majority will hope to see increased sales, turnover, and promotional activity. This is the case even for huge, well-established businesses – John Lewis, for instance, reportedly generates 80% of its annual profits during the Christmas period.

Temp picking bins
Businesses will expect to see increased stock turnover and sales during the run up to Christmas - with many turning to temporary picking bins to manage the impact

But this poses challenges. For retailers operating in specific markets (those where products are purchased on long lead times), there are challenges with forecasting stock requirements. Others will simply be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of additional items passing through their warehouses.

But how is this extra stock handled? Well, one method increasing in popularity is that of temporary picking bins.

What are temporary picking bins?

Most ecommerce fulfilment centres, retailers’ warehouses or even small-scale online sellers, will likely use picking bins in some format (typically stacking pick bins, shelf bins, or pick face walls).

However, these are designed to cope with typical levels of storage and stock holding requirements. This means that during increased demand (which for many markets could also include times outside of the Black Friday to Christmas period) they are simply not adequate for the amount of stock that is being processed.

This is where temporary picking bins come in.

Usually manufactured from cardboard or Correx® (corrugated plastic) these bins can provide an answer to how the additional inventory can be handled.

But that is not all though. The remainder of this guide provides twelve ways in which businesses like yours can benefit from using them.

12 Ways Temporary Picking Bins Can Help Your Business

All of the varying ways in which temporary pick bins can improve your fulfilment success

So without further ado, here are the 12 main ways that temporary picking bins can help with the increased demand you may face during the key seasonal trading dates:

  • Increase available warehouse / storage space
  • Allow for much greater flexibility of space (and its use)
  • Minimise travel distances and fatigue for pickers
  • Improve organisation of stock through segmenting SKUs
  • Improved organisation allowing for a greater hit density
  • Enables easier training of (temporary) staff
  • Can allow for improved stock visibility (security / monitoring)
  • Can help protect seasonal stock
  • Allows your business to be more reactive to demand changes
  • Can assist with seasonal promotions
  • Provides options to consider different picking methods / tactics
  • Budget options to suit business of all sizes

Please continue reading below for further information on how the above points regarding temporary picking bins can help you cope with seasonal demand.

01: Increase Available Space

Temporary picking bins provide additional storage for seasonal lines

Although it sounds obvious, the key benefit of temporary picking bins is of course that they provide extra storage capacity for your products.

With an increased inventory at Christmas to meet heightened demand, or even seasonal lines that are only sold at specific points in the year, having the additional space to house them is important.

Not only is having extra capacity necessary however, but it is also how this space is used. The nature of picking bins allows for stock to be easily segmented and organised, which itself has a huge number of benefits (see later points for more detail).

So in essence, temporary picking bins will provide the additional storage space for an increased inventory of products in the run up to Christmas.

Stacking pick bins
Stacking pick bins are a great way to make the most of the available floor space in your warehouse

02: Flexibility of Space

Making full use of your warehouse

This is really two points in one, but both are equally important.

Firstly, temporary picking bins provide flexibility in terms of where you need this additional storage. Being modular and easy to assemble and reposition, temporary picking bins can be located exactly where you need them.

This includes ends of aisles, within empty sections of racking, directly by your packing bays and so on. This flexibility also helps maintain sensible overall organisation of your stock (i.e. keeping similar lines near to each other).

Secondly, as the temporary picking bins can be collapsed / folded flat, they can be easily stored away when not required (i.e. during quieter months). This means that the space can be used for other activities during these times, and the temporary bins can be reused when required in the future.

03: Minimise Travel Distances / Fatigue

Reduce fulfilment times and minimise errors through easier picking

As temporary picking bins offer excellent flexibility in terms of where they can be used, it can allow you to be more strategic with your stock placement.

For example, during busier periods you can have your fastest moving lines stored together at the front of your warehouse in temporary pick bins.

This not only means that they can be retrieved more quickly (minimising fulfilment times and helping you get products to your customers more quickly), but also minimises fatigue for your picking staff.

Order pickers that are tired will mean products being retrieved more slowly (on top of the additional travel times), but are also likely to make more mistakes, harming customer experience.

04: Organisation of Stock

Segmenting SKUs to further reduce picking times

When storage space is at a premium, it is often impossible to not cut corners. But one of the key problems this can cause is not segmenting differing SKUs properly.

This can lead to slower fulfilment times (items are harder to find), increased incidences of the wrong items being picked (as similar looking items are all stored together) and more difficulties with checking stock levels too.

Temporary picking bins provide not only the additional space required to house your seasonal stock, but also individual locations (i.e. the bins – which can even be sub divided themselves, similar to divided pick bins) to organise them properly as well.

05: Improved Hit Density

More items picked and delivered in less time

Many businesses, that already use advanced tactics to improve order picking and packing, will often talk about “hit density”.

What this effectively means is the number of locations an operative will pick from. For example, if a single order picker picks from one out of every hundred locations, then this will be considerably slower than if he / she picks from one out of every ten.

Effectively, a higher pick density will equate to higher pick productivity.

Temporary picking bins allow you to set up “hot zones” in your warehouse to concentrate the faster moving lines and speed up picking. In turn, this improved efficiency can help you cope with the increased demand seen around the festive period.

Temporary picking bin storage
Temporary picking bin storage can help improve "hit density", as well as be used to reduce staff fatigue

06: Easier Training of (Temporary) Staff

Ensure temps and seasonal workers do not impact overall productivity

Although specifically speaking regarding the challenges posed by Black Friday, Emile Naus, partner at consultancy firm BearingPoint and formerly head of logistics strategy at Marks & Spencer hit the nail on head when saying:

You need more people in warehouses (during seasonal trading) but for a very short amount of time. You either bring them in early and train them and they’re standing round doing nothing or you bring them in late and they don’t know what they’re doing, they make mistakes and that has an impact on consumers.

But temporary picking bins can help here.

It means that temporary staff can be brought in later, to coincide with the setup of the temporary picking bins. They only need to be trained on this section of the warehouse, and not the wider, more permanent locations / zones.

Temporary staff can be tasked with purely promotional items and seasonal products, allowing full time staff to continue with their normal roles.

All of this can help with the increased demand, but also a number of the issues around recruiting temporary staff.

07: Stock Visibility (Security / Monitoring)

Maintaining visibility of stock levels during busy periods

Sticking with the theme of temporary staff, many businesses will be worried about how trustworthy some of them of may be.

And whilst the overwhelming majority are honest and hardworking, it is unfortunately the case that some levels of theft can be observed.

Temporary picking bins can certainly help reduce incidents such as this (whether by permanent or temporary staff) as it allows for much easier visual stock checks on an ongoing basis. The stock visibility can also be a deterrent for any dishonest team members, helping minimise or eradicate theft.

Of course, the other benefit of this is that any discrepancies – regardless of their cause – in stock levels can quickly be reported (e.g. to those responsible for ecommerce stores, promotional campaigns etc.).

08: Stock Protection

Reducing damage and spoilage on specific products

A lot of ecommerce operations will take large deliveries of seasonal products, and then attempt to fulfil them from the boxes that they were delivered in.

Whilst this certainly saves time in the short term (no organisation of stock, putting away in specific bins / locations etc.) it will almost certainly make fulfilment times slower (as listed above).

However, another factor here is that boxes of stock left on the floor or stacked on top of each other are also much more likely to become damaged. This could see them be crushed, knocked, trodden on, knocked over, or even affected by damp). The consequence of this is of course that the stock inside will become damaged too, and potentially become unsellable.

Temporary picking bins such as those manufactured from Correx® will help to minimise all of these issues. Correx® stacking pick bins for example will elevate items off of the floor, and also protect them from moisture and even dust.

Temporary picking bins
Utilising temporary picking bins - particularly those manufactured from Correx - can significantly improve stock protection

09: Assist With Seasonal Promotions

Allows you to segment stock based on promotions

Whilst a very similar point to a number of those above, what we mean here is that seasonal or promotional stock can be segmented using temporary pick bins.

For example, any items on a “BOGOF” deal can be stored in specific pick bins. Many retailers will use “advent calendar” promotions, where a different deal is offered each day, so stock could be segmented in different bins on a per day basis. The gifts that are free with certain purchase could again have their own location.

In fact, the options here are only limited by the imagination of your promotions – with temporary picking bins allowing them to run much more smoothly and helping to get items to customers in a timely manner.

10: Enable Advanced Picking Tactics

Can allow for different picking methods / tactics

If your business is already experienced in ecommerce fulfilment and coping with seasonal demand, then you may already be using temporary picking bins. You may also be involved with testing and implementation of a number of the more advanced tactics to improve order picking and packing.

What temporary picking bins will allow you to do here is experiment with different pick methods (e.g. wave picking, pick to box etc.) without affecting your core fulfilment setup.

This will the allow you to fine tune your operations for future busy periods, or even mix different tactics depending on the products, staff availability, or other factors.

Advanced picking tactics
Use of temporary picking bins can allow for experimentation with some of the more advanced picking tactics

11: Reactive to Demand Changes

Greater flexibility to cope with peaks and troughs in demand

Besides helping to cope with seasonal demand seen at Christmas, or special events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, temporary picking bins also allow you to be reactive to any changes in demand you may see throughout the year.

For example, companies selling sporting goods may see a surge in interest during televised tournament such as the Olympics. If an influencer mentions your products, you may see a short lived but extreme rise in sales as their followers discover your brand.

Viral marketing, tie ins with other brands / retailers, even weather and news events can lead to peaks and troughs in demand.

But with temporary picking bins ready to go (either assembled or stored flat) you will be well placed to meet any unexpected activity.

12: Budget

Cost effective options for any business

OK, so not a way to cope with increased demand as such – but still important to note – temporary picking bins are available in a range of options to suit any business and / or budget.

Manufactured as low cost corrugated cardboard picking bins, or using the durable, extra strong and water resistant Correx®, you can find the perfect balance between upfront cost and reusability. It is important to bear in mind however, that although more expensive to start with, Correx® will last longer than cardboard so will have lower overall / lifetime costs.

Besides this, you can specify your temporary picking bins in standard sizes or completely bespoke dimensions that will be a perfect fit or your products, available space, or other considerations.

You can also choose colours, opening types (fully and partially open faces, straight or chute fronts), material thicknesses, internal divisions, and even have print and branding added!

In Summary

Why you should use temporary picking bins to cope with seasonal demand

Put simply, temporary picking bins are a low-cost way to increase the storage capacity at your business.

They can help your staff find and pick orders more quickly. They protect stock. Enable easier stock takes / checks. Reduce picker fatigue. Can be specified to the exact requirements of your business. And can be collapsed when not in use, ready for the next peak in demand you will face.

Ultimately, temporary picking bins will help you in exceeding your customers’ expectations, enable products to be picked, packed, and delivered accurately and on time, and ensure your customers receive the levels of service they expect, even during peak times.

Sound good? See your options by contacting us at GWP, or viewing all of the permanent and temporary picking bins available.

Further Reading...

About the Author

Ian Cook, GWP Group

Ian Cook

Managing Director | GWP Correx®

Ian heads up GWP Correx®, having outstanding knowledge and understanding of supply chain, reusable packaging & handling products [Read full bio…]

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