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Temporary picking bins – 12 ways they help with seasonal demand

Ian Cook: Last Updated 3rd April 2024
Posted In: Efficiency & Productivity | Guides and Advice xx 31616

Cardboard or Correx® temporary bins

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

If you are facing the challenges of increased inventory and order picking over the festive period, temporary picking bins can help with seasonal demand.

Temporary picking bins allow you to carry more stock in your warehouse. Temporary pick bins can also improve picking processes by segmenting fast-moving or promotional lines. Manufactured using Correx or cardboard, they are freestanding and collapsible for easy storage when not in use. You can place temporary bins near packing bays, on aisle ends, or in other areas with available floor space.

Even knowing this, a successful holiday period can still cause headaches. How exactly do you handle the extra stock? How can you integrate temporary staff? Ultimately, how do you cope with increased demand?

Well, much like the 12 days of Christmas, there are 12 ways that temporary picking bins can significantly impact your success. And – bad jokes aside – this guide covers precisely why you should consider them for your business.

It covers:

  • How you can maximise space.
  • Several ways that you can improve picking efficiency.
  • The flexibility that businesses of all sizes can achieve.
  • And much more.



Coping with the festive rush

Even amid ongoing inflation and the cost of living crisis, many eCommerce, high street, and omnichannel businesses eagerly await the (hoped-for) surge in sales.

However, virtually all businesses see their operations affected by the change in consumer behaviour during Christmas.

Warehouse workers in location with temporary picking bins.
Businesses 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.

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

But this poses challenges. For retailers operating in specific markets (those where businesses purchase products on long lead times), there are challenges with forecasting stock requirements. Others become 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 likely use picking bins in some format (typically stacking pick bins, shelf bins, or pick face walls).

However, businesses source these to cope with typical storage and stock-holding requirements. As such, during increased demand (which for many markets could also include times outside of the Black Friday to Christmas period), they are simply inadequate for the amount of stock that is processed.

This is where temporary picking bins come in.

Usually manufactured from cardboard or Correx® (corrugated plastic), these bins can solve how you can handle the additional inventory.

But that is not all, though. This guide provides twelve ways 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 critical seasonal trading dates:

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

Increase available space

Temporary picking bins provide additional storage for seasonal lines

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

With an increased inventory at Christmas to meet heightened demand or even seasonal lines that you sell only at specific points in the year, it is essential to have the additional space to house them.

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

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

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

Flexibility of space

Making full use of your warehouse

This point actually covers two considerations in one, but both are equally important.

Firstly, temporary picking bins provide flexibility regarding where additional storage is needed. Being modular and easy to assemble and reposition, you can locate temporary picking bins precisely where you need them. They essentially create additional bin locations in your warehouse.

For example, you could place them at the ends of aisles, within empty sections of racking, directly by your packing bays and so on. This flexibility also helps maintain the sensible overall organisation of your stock (i.e. keeping similar lines near each other).

Secondly, as you can collapse and fold the temporary picking bins flat, they can be easily stored away when not required (i.e. during quieter months). This flexibility means that you can use the space for other activities during these times, and you can reuse the temporary bins when required in the future.

Minimise travel distances and fatigue

Reduce fulfilment times and minimise errors through easier picking

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

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

Doing this not only means you can retrieve these products 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 who are tired typically retrieve products more slowly – on top of the additional travel times – but are also likely to make more mistakes, harming customer experience.

Organisation of stock

Segmenting SKUs to reduce picking times further

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

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

Temporary picking bins provide the additional space required to house your seasonal stock and individual locations (you can choose to subdivide the containers, similar to divided pick bins) to organise them properly.

Improved hit density

More items picked and delivered in less time

Many businesses already using advanced tactics to improve order picking and packing often talk about “hit density”.

This term effectively means the number of locations from which an operative picks. For example, if a single order picker picks from one out of every hundred locations, this is considerably slower than if they pick from one out of every ten.

Effectively, a higher pick density equates 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. This improved efficiency can help you cope with the increased demand around the festive period.

A warehouse employee retrieving stock from temporary picking bin storage
Temporary picking bin storage can help improve "hit density", as well as be used to reduce staff fatigue.

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, summarised this when saying:

You need more people in warehouses (during seasonal trading) but for a very short time. You either bring them in early and train them and they’re standing around 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 your business can bring temporary staff in later to coincide with the setup of the temporary picking bins. They only need to be trained on this warehouse section, not the broader, more permanent locations or zones.

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

All this can help with the increased demand and several issues around recruiting temporary staff.

Stock visibility (for security and monitoring)

Maintaining visibility of stock levels during busy periods

Staying with the theme of temporary staff, many businesses worry about how trustworthy some may be.

And whilst the overwhelming majority are honest and hardworking, it is, unfortunately, the case that you may observe some levels of theft.

Temporary picking bins can 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. Stock visibility can also be a deterrent for any dishonest team members, helping minimise or eradicate theft.

Of course, the other benefit 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.).

Stock protection

Reducing damage and spoilage on specific products

Many eCommerce operations take large deliveries of seasonal products and attempt to fulfil them from the boxes in which suppliers deliver them.

This practice saves time in the short term, as there is no organisation of stock or the task of putting stock away in specific bins or locations. However, it almost certainly makes fulfilment times slower.

However, another factor is that boxes of stock left on the floor or stacked on each other are considerably more likely to become damaged. Boxes stored in this manner could be crushed, knocked, trodden on, knocked over, or even affected by dampness. The consequence is that the stock inside also becomes damaged and potentially unsellable.

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

Temporary picking bins in a warehouse
Utilising temporary picking bins - particularly those manufactured using Correx - can significantly improve stock protection.

Assist with seasonal promotions

Allows you to segment stock based on promotions

Whilst a very similar benefit to a number of those above, this point identifies that seasonal or promotional stock can be segmented using temporary pick bins.

For example, you can store items on a “BOGOF” deal in specific pick bins. Many retailers offer shoppers “advent calendar” promotions, with different deals daily. For this scenario, you can segment the stock into separate containers on a per-day basis. The free gifts with certain purchases could again have their own location.

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 you get items to customers promptly.

Enable advanced picking tactics

Temporary bins can allow for different picking methods and tactics

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

What temporary picking bins 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 flexibility enables you to fine-tune your operations for future busy periods or even mix different tactics depending on the products, staff availability, or other factors.

A warehouse operative carrying out advanced picking tactics
The use of temporary picking bins can allow for experimentation with some of the more advanced picking tactics.

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 tournaments such as the Olympics or World Cup. 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 or retailers, and 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 are well placed to meet any unexpected activity.


Cost-effective options for any business

OK, so it is not a way to cope with increased demand as such – but it is still important to note – temporary picking bins are available in various options to suit any business 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. However, it is essential to remember that although more expensive initially, Correx® lasts longer than cardboard and has a lower overall or “lifetime” cost.

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

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


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

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

They can help your staff find and pick orders more quickly. They protect stock. Enable easier stock takes and 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 face.

Ultimately, temporary picking bins help you exceed 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 GWP or viewing all available permanent and temporary picking bins.

Further reading

About the author

Ian Cook, GWP Group managing director

Ian Cook

Managing Director | GWP Correx®

Ian heads up GWP Correx®, having outstanding knowledge and understanding of supply chain, reusable packaging and handling products.
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