Live from NCOF: ABC Slotting Improves Picking Productivity, Cuts Travel Time

Nashville–In today’s conditions, operations managers are doing more with less. But one way to improve picking productivity–along with cutting down on the distance your pickers travel every day–consider the “ABC” method of slotting, which dictates where you store your products, says Michael Wohlwend, director of alliances for Atlanta-based supply chain provider Manhattan Associates.

Using the 80/20 rule–which says that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products–store your SKUs according to volume. Put your fast movers, the “A” products, at the front of your warehouse. Then put your “B” products behind the “A” products. Lastly, put your “C” products–merchandise that moves the slowest–at the back of your distribution center.

Slotting also cuts down on the need for daily stock replenishment. “Ideally, you should have at least three months worth of stock in the forward pick location,” Wohlwend suggests. You should have three days worth of stock in the “A” bin, and at least a three- week supply of merchandise in the “B” location before you need to replenish. For “C” products, a three-month storage of supplies should suffice.

Wohlwend suggests that catalogers monitor the situation, depending on the company’s product line. For instance, in apparel, catalogers have a nine-week window, but hard goods product lines may have a longer shelf life. And evaluate your slotting scenario especially after numerous catalog drops. “As reorders occur, an item you thought was once a fast mover, could drop to a “B” or “C” item.”