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As the old saying goes, “nothing is constant except change.” Nowhere is this more true than in warehouses and distribution centers. Just think of the many advances across all areas of the enterprise from technology to human resources to data analytics.

In theory, warehouse managers, supply chain managers, and operations managers all want the same things. They want more efficiency, productivity, speed, accuracy, and safety from their operations ecosystem and that includes warehouse labeling.

Installing labels from a scissor lift

So why the hesitancy with new warehouse labeling? One reason is that warehouse labeling is often back-burnered and designated a low priority. Another is the lack of experience in managing the entire labeling process from start to finish.
Such delays can no longer be justified when revenue and efficiency are considered. Recent technology and process changes demand warehouse managers view warehouse labeling systems with new eyes.

Fact is, warehouse labeling is a greater need than ever before due to the shift towards direct fulfillment of products. The financial risk of failing to deploy a warehouse labeling system is real. Product delivery and fulfillment are negatively impacted by inefficiencies with the pick/pack/ship process.

Even worse, just one small mistake can topple the entire labeling process and system. How can you best protect your warehouse operations from disaster? Get informed on what industry drivers are demanding change and measure your operation’s current status in that process.

Here are the 5 major reasons to consider up-leveling your labeling now…

Reason #1: Automation is Everything

Labels on a printing press

The product journey from the warehouse to the customer has undergone a seismic change. In this new era of pick/pack/ship lightning turnaround, warehouse labeling is essential to leverage automation in the supply chain.

What does this look like, exactly? Well, let’s say you are looking at moving things, putting products away, putting them in inventory for easy retrieval. The right labeling system allows quick and efficient processing. The same goes for warehouse expansion and new locations. To automate fully and successfully hardware, software, and facility need to work in unison for successful labeling operations.

Bottom line: automation is the holy grail to unlocking efficiency gains.

Reason #2: New ERP or WMS System Integration Issues

Another sign your warehouse signs and rack labels are in desperate need of an upgrade is that they are incompatible with a new ERP or WMS system. When you update those systems, they often dictate a new nomenclature or sequencing for putting things away. That alone makes labels and signs instantly out of date because they’re not functional with the new system.

2 warehouse workers hanging signs

Such a dilemma is only magnified by the number and variety of labels and signs needed for an efficient warehouse operation. These warehouse labels and signs typically fall into six main categories.

The six categories of labels include:

  1. Rack Labels
  2. Cleanbeam/Clean Bin
  3. Totems
  4. Hanging Placards
  5. Door Dock Signs
  6. Aisle Signs

As you can see, the greater the number and variety of signs and labels required only increases the risk of a mistake that could compromise the entire system.

Reason #3: The Product Attrition Syndrome

Warehouse worker using a hand scanner on a rack label

The warehouse of the future features the very latest technology and business systems. Everything is bigger, faster, and quicker. Of course, warehouses have to be smart about when they update and how much. Right now, you likely have equipment at the end of its lifecycle. Unfortunately, with warehouse labeling, there’s an instant ripple effect.

For example, you swap out an old terminal and invest in a new, contemporary terminal. Then, the new equipment triggers a new warehouse labeling system. What then?

If anyone understands this dynamic it’s Imprint Enterprises. We provide bar scanners, readers, and products at all levels of the warehouse. In other words, we have intimate knowledge, experience, and expertise with all the moving parts of a successful warehouse operation and have performed over 3000 warehouse labeling installations.

Reason #4: Enter the Dynamic Putaway System

Multi-colored horizontal totem labels

Now here’s an old saying that no longer applies to today’s best warehouse operations … “There is a place for everything and everything has its place.” The reality is simple: Amazon changed everything. Now, there are no dedicated spaces or bins for a particular product.

Instead, a dynamic putaway system is deployed where warehouse labeling plays a critical role. The WMS (warehouse management system) tells the warehouse personnel where the product is located. The right system with up-to-date warehouse labels and signs helps identify the location of the product

Reason #5: Direct Fulfillment is all that Matters Now

Another factor that impacts warehouse labeling is the shifting landscape from the old way (distribution centers ship to retail locations) to direct fulfillment.

In the past, customers would go to a physical location, say a retail outlet or store, and make a purchase. The product was available on the shelf thanks to a delivery from a distribution center to a local store. While this purchasing method still exists, all the momentum and growth is with direct fulfillment to customers.

Rows of products in a warehouse

The most obvious example is Amazon. The purchase process is made remotely and In this scenario, the product is delivered to their home with an amazing level of speed and efficiency. This is only achieved thanks to the most efficient, pick pack and ship and inventory systems that are technology-driven and include full warehouse labeling integration.

The gravity of this market change is that retailers drew a line in the sand: they no longer want to be in the distribution business or the retail business. Now, their energies are dedicated to making the best products quickly and efficiently. And because of these market forces, retailers are now being forced to ship direct.

In such an environment, these same manufacturers have discovered that direct fulfillment success is a competitive advantage.

Warehouse Labeling Made Right (And Profitable)

We’ve documented the five reasons a warehouse may need a total warehouse labeling system. So you now know that labeling is far more than an afterthought. It’s a vital link to gaining system-wide efficiencies that translate into savings across the enterprise.

Of course, knowing there are market forces at work demanding change is just part of the equation. In part 2 of this blog series, you’ll discover the 3 warning signs that can sink your warehouse operations.  The series concludes by revealing the 5 signs of a successful warehouse labeling ecosystem.

This article series arms you with insights so you can make an informed choice about your warehouse labeling. And when you see the entire blog series in total, we hope you come to the same conclusion as the 3000 companies that have chosen Imprint Enterprises as the best source for proven warehouse sign and label solutions.

Contact Imprint today to discuss all your warehouse labeling needs and challenges. For more information contact or call (855) 745-4464 today.