By Mark Traphagen – November 20, 2012

High altitude pallet racks in a foodstock ware...When someone asks me, an experienced digital marketer, what comes to my mind when I think about marketing in recent years, I can put it in one word: acceleration.

Like many things in the world today, marketing is now moving (literally) at the speed of light, through the wires and wireless connections we call the Internet. Back in the Mad Men days, executing a promotional campaign could take months to execute. Now I can write this blog post, publish it with one click, and put it before the eyes of millions through social sharing before lunch in one morning.

But if that marketing message is meant to sell a product, a question arises: if I can get a message across the world almost instantaneously, what happens if the orders start coming in just as fast? Can my storage and distribution systems keep up with demand that moves at the speed of light?

Let's talk about how your warehouse and stock room can keep up with all your marketing department brings its way.

Warehousing Like a Digital Marketer

When I'm helping Virante clients to get their message out and connect with potential customers, I know that I have to make best use of the strengths and resiliencies of the digital landscape. In a lot of ways, I think those assets have analogies to what you need to do to keep product moving in and out of your facilities in the most efficient way. Just like I need to move fast to connect my clients to their prospects at just the right time and place, so businesses need to be able to get product to where it needs to go quickly and correctly. That produces happy customers who are more likely to come back for more.

So here are those digital marketing must-haves that storage and distribution systems can learn from:

  1. Clear and Flexible Mind /Clear and Flexible Spaces: When I need to create new campaign ideas for a client, I have to clear away the clutter from my mind and workspace so that I can think clearly about the needs of my client and the markets he is targeting. I also need to be flexible for the real-time changes required on almost any campaign marketing today. Warehouses need to follow the same principles to work efficiently as well. The path to build flexibility in a warehouse is through Modularity Scalability. Modular Storage Systems that can be quickly adapted to changing product requirements. Scalable units that can be quickly expanded to adjust to a growing demand. Sometimes, even leave a clear space for the temporary storage of seasonal products.
  2. Right Channels / Proper Storage Solutions: When it comes time to producing marketing communications for my clients, I have to carefully choose the most appropriate channels. Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Pinterest? AdWords? Banner ads? -- not every channel will be right for every client. For warehouse managers, their "channels" are the types of storage systems and other equipment where they place the products under their care. Since “channels” cannot be easily and inexpensively changed the way we do in Online Marketing, more hybrid solutions have been introduced to the market, designed to work with increasing product SKUs selections, especially in the Ecommerce/Retail industry. These hybrid systems may include traditional heavy duty shelving manual systems for temporary storage, that can bear big weights and lots of movement. Not everything needs to be automated in a modern warehouse.
  3. Monitor the Channels/ Dynamic Monitoring Visualization: An effective online marketer doesn't just broadcast messages. A large part of my job is listening and observing. I need to know what prospects and customers like and find useful, so I can give them more of that. Similarly, the effective warehouse manager constantly observes the process flow in his facility. Is product getting in and out of systems on time? What is the cost/time to fulfill an order? Are there unnecessary bottlenecks caused by arrangement of equipment and storage units? Are pickers able to get to the most popular items in the fastest possible time?

Today’s Warehouse Management Software Solutions, like WAMAS from SSI Schaefer, provide Dynamic Monitoring Visualization of your Warehouse processes, a unique insight of key data that will lead to vast economic savings, from reducing operational costs to inventory management improvements Today's warehouse manager needs to be able to think and act as agilely as a digital marketer. What processes do you have in place to make sure your warehouse is operating at peak effectiveness?

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Author Info: Mark Traphagen is Director of Social Media Marketing for Virante, Inc., a leading search marketing agency. While Mark has many years experience in digital marketing, one of his first jobs was shipping and receiving in a large industrial warehouse, and that experience inspired this post. Connect with Mark: Twitter | Google+