Understanding and leveraging the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is crucial for staying ahead in warehouse management. It is important to measure and track KPIs to ensure that the operations are efficient and effective. These metrics are not just numbers; they are insights that guide strategic decisions, streamline operations, and ultimately, drive your warehouse towards greater efficiency and productivity.

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But with a myriad of KPIs to choose from, which ones should you focus on? In this guide, we will discuss the essential warehouse KPIs every manager must monitor to unlock operational excellence.

Peter Drucker, one of the most renowned business management gurus, expresses the idea aptly:

Peter Drucker quote

And that is the very essence of lean warehouse management as well. Tracking warehouse KPIs lets you not only monitor the efficiency of warehouse processes, but also take corrective measures to increase productivity and asset utilization. The result is continuous operational improvement and increased customer satisfaction.

Here are the top 24 warehouse KPIs as they relate to standard warehouse and distribution center processes:

Top 24 Warehouse KPIs

Receiving KPIs

Among the most critical warehouse KPIs are the metrics that measure receiving performance. Warehouse operations begin with this process, and any inefficiencies here will snowball through all the subsequent processes.

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    Warehouse KPI metrics that correspond to the receiving process are:

    1. Cost of Receiving Per Receiving Line: The expense that the warehouse incurs on the receiving process of each receiving line. This includes handling costs as well.
    2. Receiving Productivity: Determined in terms of labor by measuring the volume of goods received per warehouse clerk per hour.
    3. Receiving Accuracy: Percentage of accurate receipts, i.e., the proportion of correctly received orders against purchase orders.
    4. Dock Door Utilization: Percentage of how many of the total dock doors were utilized.
    5. Receiving Cycle Time: The time taken to process each receipt.

    These warehouse KPIs help managers identify any lapses in receiving and avoid a chain reaction of inefficiencies down the process line. Catching inefficiencies, such as a long receiving cycle caused by busy dock doors, can reduce deficiencies as early as the receiving stage.

    To learn more receiving process optimization tips, click here.

    But if you prefer watching a video about optimizing the receiving process, watch this video: https://youtu.be/Kzl6lEC4qDM.

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    Putaway KPIs

    Once goods are received, the process of putaway begins with placing each item at a designated location selected for the most convenient retrieval. Effective putaway ensures a smooth picking process, thus significantly reducing lead time.

    Here are some of the important warehouse KPIs that you must track to measure the efficiency of the putaway process:

    1. Putaway Cost Per Line: Expenses incurred for putting away stock per line, including labor, handling, and equipment costs.
    2. Putaway Productivity: Volume of stock put away per warehouse clerk per hour.
    3. Putaway Accuracy: Percentage of number of items put away accurately at the designated location.
    4. Labor and Equipment Utilization: Percentage of the labor and material handling equipment utilized during the put-away process.
    5. Putaway Cycle Time: Total time taken during the entire process of each put-away task.

    Image of the putaway process in the warehouse.

    Evaluating the putaway through these warehouse KPIs gives you a clear picture of potential inefficiencies. Recognizing snags such as inaccuracies or scarcity of labor will help you to optimize and streamline the process.

    To learn more putaway process optimization tips, click here.

    Storage KPIs

    Whether your warehouse depends on storing goods manually or uses AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), you still need to measure efficiency. Here are some important warehouse KPIs to measure storage efficiency:

    1. Carrying Cost of Inventory: The cost of storage over a particular span of time includes the cost of inventory, capital, service, damage, and obsolescence. The longer the stock stays in storage, the higher the cost to the warehouse.
    2. Storage Productivity: Volume of inventory stored per square foot.
    3. Space Utilization: Percentage of space occupied by inventory out of the total space available for storage.
    4. Inventory Turnover: The number of times the entire inventory passes through during a period of time.
    5. Inventory to Sales Ratio: Measure of stock levels against sales. This helps managers identify monthly increases in inventory against falling sales.

    Image of a forklift in action inside a warehouse.

    These storage & inventory management KPIs are of immense value when it comes to maximizing storage utilization and reducing the cost of inventory. For example, a low inventory turnover spurs you to track down a reason and helps you improve inventory management.

    To learn more storage process optimization tips, click here.

    Pick & Pack KPIs

    The process of picking & packing directly impacts lead time. Greater accuracy in picking means a shorter lead time. Picking in the right order decreases the rate of order return and increases customer satisfaction.

    1. Picking and Packing Cost: The cost incurred per order line, including handling, labeling, relabeling, and packing.
    2. Picking Productivity: The number of order lines picked per hour.
    3. Picking Accuracy:  The percentage of orders picked and packed without error.
    4. Labor and Equipment Utilization: The percentage of labor & pick/pack equipment out of the total labor and equipment utilized during the process.
    5. Picking Cycle Time: Time taken to pick each order.

    To learn more picking process optimization tips, click here.

    Image of the picking process in an optimized warehouse.

    A study by WERC shows that best-in-class picking accuracy can reach as high as 99.9%. 

     

    Distribution KPIs

    As the roles and responsibilities of warehouses expand with the growth of always-on supply chain, the added function of distribution exerts additional pressure on warehouse management. Here are some warehouse KPIs relevant to distribution:

    1. Order Lead Time: The average time an order takes to reach the customer once the order has been placed. This is one of the most crucial KPIs for warehouses and distribution centers.
    2. Perfect Order Rate: Number of orders the warehouse delivered without error. It indicates the success rate of the warehouse/distribution center.
    3. Back Order Rate: The rate at which orders are coming in for items that are out of stock. There are situations wherein unexpected spikes in demand cause this. However, if this rate is consistently high, it is an indication that there are lapses in planning and forecasting.

    Another study by WERC shows that best-in-class perfect order rate can reach as high as 99.3% or more.

    A warehouse manager with her team while optimizing their processes.

    These distribution KPIs will help you diagnose underlying problems.

    For example, a high back-order rate indicates that a warehouse or distribution center isn’t stocking the appropriate inventory volumes. In this case, the problem lies in understanding consumer behavior and better forecasting demand to set inventory levels properly.

    Reverse Logistics KPIs

    The returns and reverse logistics is another crucial process where warehouse KPIs need to be measured. In most cases, the always-on warehouse is exposed to this process, and it’s essential to measure its efficiency and effectiveness.

    Here is a warehouse KPI that should not be ignored if you are exposed to this process:

    1. Rate of Return: The rate at which goods, once sold, are being returned. This is most effectively used when segmented by reason for return.

    This is one of the top warehouse KPIs that can help the warehouse/operations manager diagnose the exact reasons for rising warehousing costs and customer dissatisfaction, as it lets you dig into the reasons for returns.

    To learn more reverse logistics process optimization tips, click here.

    Conclusion

    Identifying, implementing, and tracking warehouse KPIs on a consistent basis is the first step toward increasing warehouse productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. This will yield consistent positive results and operational predictability.

    Remember, even the most diligent of efforts toward warehouse digitalization can be wasted if you can’t measure warehouse operations.

    If you are ready to find the solution to optimize your warehouse, go to our Solutions Finder tool.

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