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The Impact of Efficient Warehouse Storage on Picker Productivity & Labor Cost Reduction


In retail, fulfillment, and logistics, every minute (and every dollar) counts. Success depends on continuously finding opportunities to drive efficiency. Focusing on warehouse space optimization can give companies an edge by dramatically improving both order picking productivity and labor costs.

Understanding Warehouse Storage Efficiency

Efficient warehouse storage makes the most of your space, presenting well-organized and easily accessible inventory that pickers can find and reach with minimal strain. How you organize inventory impacts everything from throughput to labor costs, so it’s critical to regularly audit warehouse storage to keep pace with changing conditions.

Several key factors contribute to achieving optimal warehouse optimization:

  • Warehouse Layout: Mapping your facility from floor to ceiling can help you maximize storage density and minimize unnecessary travel, strain, and congestion. Considering your unused vertical space is important, too.
  • Product Accessibility: Keeping products within reach directly improves efficiency. Clear and wide aisles, logical product placement, and efficient flow paths are critical accessibility factors.
  • Visibility and Organization: Well-lit and cleanly organized storage areas help pickers quickly identify and locate items, reducing search time and errors. 
  • Adaptability and Scalability: Whether it’s accommodating new SKUs or reworking space for future growth, warehouse needs are constantly adapting. Storage solutions should adapt, too.


Optimized Storage Leads to Optimized Order Picking Productivity

If you want to improve your warehouse labor efficiency, start by addressing common challenges pickers face:

  • Straining to reach products in the back of static shelves
  • Excessive travel time
  • Struggling to find items
  • Navigating through a crowded, messy warehouse

Here are some efficient inventory management principles that can improve picker efficiency:

  • Store SKUs According to Throughput: Use product data to develop a slotting system that balances accessibility with efficiency. Pallet flow can give the highest throughput products the most accessibility. Low throughput SKUs can be stored in static shelving, tilted-pick shelving, or high-density dynamic storage systems.
  • Minimize Unnecessary Movement: Improving warehouse navigation, implementing zones, or grouping similar items together can significantly reduce picker travel time. Better storage ergonomics also help pickers work safely and quickly by reducing strain, reaching, and bending.
  • Optimizing Capacity: The right storage solutions and orientation will increase capacity without physically expanding warehouse space. Dynamic storage can maximize SKU density while still allowing easy access to products.
  • Arm Pickers with Knowledge: Educate pickers on efficiency techniques, organizational practices, and how to correctly use storage systems. Logical slotting, labeling, and warehouse wayfinding empower workers to quickly locate and access the needed products. 

Unlocking Labor Cost Reduction With Warehouse Efficiency

Labor can account for 60-80% of warehousing costs. That can make or break a budget, but efficient storage practices can help warehouse labor cost management. Strategically implementing dynamic warehouse storage solutions like carton flow, dynamic industrial shelving, and pallet flow systems can:

  • Reduce labor costs by up to 40%
  • Increase storage density by 40-60% 
  • Improve pick efficiency and accuracy by 20-30%
  • Enhance inventory accessibility, visibility, and organization

Take, for example, George J. Falter, a convenience store supplier who worked with UNEX to implement a comprehensive storage optimization strategy. By designing with throughput and efficiency in mind, they achieved a 33% reduction in labor costs — costs they could reinvest into other business areas.

Learn how SpanTrack helped George J. Falter maximize space to meet customer demands. Download the Case Study. 


How Warehouse Storage Plays a Role

Efficient storage doesn’t only improve labor costs; it also streamlines order fulfillment. Warehouse storage efficiency leads to fewer mispicks and more orders processed per hour. The right storage solutions will keep fast-moving products flowing and low-throughput inventory accessible while allowing flexibility for changing inventory and demand patterns.

To seamlessly incorporate storage optimization into day-to-day operations, consider the following:

  • Regularly Audit Inventory Management: Ensure items are correctly slotted, and their organization is logical.
  • Condense and Label SKUs: Minimize picker search and travel time and ensure products are easy to find and reach.
  • Implement Dynamic Storage Systems. Choose storage systems that will maximize your space, productivity, and flexibility. By balancing high-density solutions, like tilted pick shelves or dynamic industrial shelving, with carton flow and pallet flow, you can optimize your square footage and keep products moving with minimal manual strain.

UNEX Storage Solutions for Efficient Inventory Management

UNEX SpanTrack LaneSpanTrack Carton Flow Tracks

Carton flow allows for more product in less space and less moving and reaching for your pickers. UNEX SpanTrack Lane and SpanTrack Wheel Bed are customizable, durable, and reliable for full case and split case order picking, reducing the need for manual searching and handling and directly improving labor productivity. 

UNEX SpeedCellSpeedCell Dynamic Industrial Shelving

SpeedCell reclaims unused vertical space. It can be installed into existing pallet rack bays, giving a highly efficient storage solution for low-throughput items. SpeedCell expands storage density by up to 60% while dramatically increasing pickfaces, reducing travel and search time.

UNEX-Pallet-Track-Circle-1Pallet Track Pallet Flow Systems

Pallet Track is a pitched pallet flow solution that can be fully customized to optimize storage and retrieval for palletized inventory. Pallet Track helps order pickers quickly move pallets forward and replenish high-throughput SKUs, saving time and labor.

SpanTrack Lane Carton Flow Rollers

Efficient, durable, and dependable, SpanTrack Lane carton flow rollers drop into existing structures to create the ultimate carton flow rack system for manufacturing facilities and order picking operations.

SpanTrack Carton Flow Beds

SpanTrack wheel beds are flexible carton flow beds that drop into existing structures to create the ultimate flow rack system for order picking operations, manufacturing facilities, and more.

SpeedCell Dynamic High-Density Shelving

SpeedCell is a dynamic high-density shelving solution that maximizes space utilization within standard pallet racking, helping warehouse and backroom operations improve pick speed and accuracy for valuable time and cost savings.

Pallet Track

Durable pallet track rollers or wheel rails create a dynamic pallet flow system for fast movers. Our high-quality pallet tracks optimize flow, increase efficiency and storage density, and can be customized to fit an operation’s unique needs.


Embracing Warehouse Storage Efficiency 

Warehouse optimization directly impacts picker efficiency and labor costs, significantly impacting profitability. Continually auditing and optimizing storage solutions can help you remain competitive, weather tight labor conditions, and improve your bottom line. 

At UNEX, we understand that every warehousing operation is unique. That’s why we work with you to engineer custom warehouse storage solutions that suit your needs. Connect with a UNEX product specialist today to learn how to unlock warehouse labor cost savings with the right dynamic storage!

Maximize space utilization in your warehouse with our FREE guide.