Warehouse Slotting [Best Practices + Automated Solutions To Streamline Inventory Slotting]

A recent industry report found that the eCommerce industry is anticipated to grow by almost $11 trillion between 2021 and 2025.

Due to this uptick in demand, warehouse employees are faced with challenges such as handling more inventory and getting shipments out the door faster, without expanding the workforce or increasing the warehouse’s footprint.

The solution? Warehouse slotting. Warehouse slotting is a warehouse organization strategy that can help improve efficiency and productivity across the board.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about warehouse slotting, including best practices to optimize your warehouse slotting. We’ll also explain how our automated storage and picking solutions can streamline your warehouse operations, from providing safe storage for your inventory to boosting picking efficiency and beyond.

What is Warehouse Slotting?

Warehouse slotting, also known as inventory slotting, is the process of creating an efficient organization strategy in a warehouse or logistics facility.

The process involves warehouse planners who identify the most efficient location for inventory. Warehouse slotting is typically organized by product type or stock-keeping unit (SKU) number. It allows you to maximize space, improve picking efficiency and enhance material handling.

What Does Fixed Slotting and Random Slotting Mean in a Warehouse?

Fixed slotting is an inventory slotting method used for products that have a permanent location.

On the other hand, instead of having a reserved slot, random slotting is an inventory slotting method used for products that are assigned to an available pick zone. Typically, fixed slotting is reserved for fast-moving items while random slotting is utilized for slow-moving items.

Inventory Slotting Best Practices

From organizing inventory based on how often each SKU is picked to arranging inventory depending on the picking zones for each item, here are four key inventory slotting best practices.

Arrange Slot Inventory by SKU Velocity

From a sudden demand for beach balls in the summer and festive ornaments in the holidays to Black Friday sales and can’t-miss discounts, seasonality can cause SKU velocity (how often each SKU is picked during a certain period) to change.

To compensate for spikes in demand, you need to assess and create a stock distribution strategy to change inventory slotting layouts and achieve warehouse efficiency year-round.

To meet seasonal demands:

  • Determine which products are or will be affected by seasonal demand
  • Identify when the peaks will occur
  • Identify fast-moving items and place them near the shipping area for easy access
  • Consolidate SKUs that are frequently picked together in the same storage area

Organize Slot Inventory by Zone or Equipment

Whether it’s storing perishable goods in refrigerated zones or keeping high-value items in security cages, identifying the proper zone for each SKU is key to ensure efficient inventory management and workplace safety.

To slot inventory by zone:

  • Outline your warehouse picking zones
  • Identify SKUs and their proper storage area — for example, house perishable items in environmentally controlled areas and store flammable liquids in the flammable zone

In addition to slotting inventory by zone, you can optimize inventory slotting by storing goods close to each other based on the picking equipment used.

For example, forklifts can carry heavy pallets of bricks and construction materials, while automated storage and retrieval systems can pick small items such as medicine and vitamins. (Speaking of small items, check out our warehouse storage solutions for small parts!)

To slot inventory by picking equipment:

  • Store heavy items in aisles that are close together
  • Keep small parts in a different picking zone, away from heavy inventory
  • If you use a forklift or scissor lift to pick inventory, ensure the storage aisles are wide enough to accommodate heavy machinery
Warehouse Slotting
Identifying the proper zone for each SKU is key to ensure efficient inventory management and workplace safety.

Arrange Slot Inventory by Product Affinity Analysis

Product affinity analysis is the process of looking into consumer behavior to asses and identify which goods are commonly purchased together.

Examples of kitted or bundled items that can be sold together are ink cartridges and printers, wrapping paper and Christmas decorations, and dry pasta and canned tomatoes.

Knowing which products are usually purchased together can help you optimize inventory slotting in the warehouse, boost promotions (read here if you’re wondering how BOGO deals attract impulse buyers) and engage customers in cross-selling or upselling relevant products.

To slot inventory by product affinity analysis:

  • Study consumer behavior insights and purchasing patterns
  • Store product affinity bundled items next to each other

Looking for more tips on how to manage your inventory? Check out our guide to warehouse inventory management best practices!

How can automation help streamline inventory slotting?

Benefits of Warehouse Slotting

From minimizing travel time to increasing safety in the workplace and beyond, here are four reasons why warehouse slotting is key to streamlining inventory management.

Reduce Travel Time

A warehouse employee’s routine includes navigating their way around the facility to pick items. And while employees can find where inventory is located thanks to picking aids and warehouse management solutions, location is paramount in reducing the time needed to pick items that are ready to be shipped.

This is where warehouse slotting comes in handy. Thanks to warehouse slotting, fast-moving inventory — goods that are sold within a short period of time — can be stored near the shipping area, resulting in faster picking and stock replenishment.

Slotting - Safety in warehouse

Increase Safety

Just like any other workplace, accidents can occur in the warehouse. In fact, even employees at eCommerce giant Amazon have experienced workplace injuries. Whether it’s tripping over messy inventory scattered on the floor or getting hit by falling inventory, a warehouse can be a breeding ground for workplace injuries if your goods aren’t properly stored.

So how does warehouse slotting play a key role in preventing workplace injuries?

Warehouse slotting allows you to store lighter goods on the top and heavier items on the bottom of a pallet or shelf, resulting in a balanced and safer storage area.

Improve Material Handling

A recent study by the National Retail Federation found that retailers in the United States lost more than $400 billion in sales in 2020 due to product returns, with product damage being a top contributor.

Warehouse slotting allows you to store items in their correct locations — think refrigerated containers for perishable food items — to reduce return rates and improve customer satisfaction.

Proper slotting can improve the efficiency of the material handling process. In an organized warehouse, employees are primarily busy in the value-added picking operations, as they are not forced to walk up and down aisles looking for products. They know the exact location of items in a zone.

As a result, they make less picking errors and the inventory management processes are quicker, easier and more efficient. 

Maximize Storage

Warehouse space in the U.S. can cost $16 to $20 per square foot.

With an efficient warehouse slotting, facilities can save valuable floor space and concentrate operations in a smaller footprint closer to where they are needed. This also helps reduce the overall warehouse costs or the need to move to a bigger warehouse  

A warehouse manager is disappointed because of a damaged box​
Retailers in the United States lost over $400 billion in sales in 2020 alone, due to product returns 

Modula Solutions for Warehouse Slotting Optimization

While warehouse slotting is key to maximizing space and reducing travel time within the warehouse, it requires a continuous process of gathering consumer behavior insights, analyzing data, and making warehouse inventory layout changes when needed.

At Modula, our advanced automated storage solutions and retrieval systems help further streamline your inventory slotting thanks to next-level storage and picking systems.

Modula Vertical Lift Modules

Improve your warehouse slotting by safely storing inventory in a centralized location with our Modula vertical lift modules.

Modula’s VLMs are fully automated vertical storage systems that allow for a large inventory of goods to be quickly accessed while being stored in a safe and secure environment.

Items are delivered to the operators with a simple touch on the user-friendly Copilot controller or the scan of a barcode.

The user can also monitor stock levels in real time, speed up order execution times for both picking and replenishment operations and avoid the accidental release of wrong, obsolete, expired or on-hold products.

Choose from three models:

  • Modula Lift: Ideal for those who want to take advantage of their available ceiling height. Modula Lift requires only a minimal footprint.
  • Modula Slim: With its compact size and lightweight design, the Modula Slim is perfect for warehouses with limited floor space.
  • Modula OnePick: Our fully automated vertical lift solution, Modula OnePick integrates smart innovation and state-of-the-art technologies into your conveyor systems to pick and place inventory, relieving your warehouse operators from manual labor.

Get a closer look at our Modula Lift:

MODULA LIFT: Innovative Vertical Warehouse Storage System

Modula vertical lift modules allow you to:

  • Save 90% of your warehouse floor space by using a minimal footprint
  • Improve inventory management with monitored and recorded picking operations
  • Boost picking speeds of 300 lines per hour or more
  • Reduce labor and operational costs
  • Improve workplace safety by eliminating the need to reach high and low to pick products
  • Obtain goods automatically thanks to the user-friendly Copilot controller

Ready to go Vertical?

Warehouse Consolidation

Modula Horizontal Carousels

Working with limited ceiling height? Our Modula horizontal carousels are built to safely and efficiently store your warehouse inventory in one location.

Get a closer look at our Modula Horizontal Carousel:

Modula HC for the US Market: Horizontal Carousel for Efficient Picking

Modula horizontal carousels allow you to:

  • Monitor picking operations in real-time through automation
  • Achieve 99% picking accuracy with our barcode readers and Put to Light Systems
  • Experience picking rates of up to 550 lines per hour
  • Store more items with high-density and compact storage areas
  • Get items quickly and easily thanks to Modula’s digital Copilot feature

Ready to go horizontal?

Modula Special Applications

Count on our clean rooms and temperature-controlled environments to store perishable goods and optimize your refrigerated picking zones.

Our controlled environment storage systems are designed to store inventory that is dependent on temperature.

All of our controlled environment storage systems feature temperature variations that meet industry standards and regulations, and protect goods from contaminants.

Choose between two models:

  • Modula Climate Control: For controlled humidity and temperature
  • Modula Clean Room: For clean room storage conditions

Our Modula Climate Control solution allows you to:

  • Control the temperature from +2°C to +25°C (+35 °F to +77°F)
  • Control the humidity of ≥ 5%
  • Access stored inventory

Our Modula Clean Room solution allows you to:

  • Reduce exposure to contaminants, such as germs, dust, and dirt
  • Ensure minimal air particles within your storage room
  • Gain access to clean room classifications ranging from 6 to 8
  • Comply with ISO 14644-1 standard

Explore our Special Applications

Modula Special Application for Warehouse Slotting

Modula Warehouse Picking Order Solutions

Looking to transport your warehouse inventory across picking zones and to the shipping area? Reduce travel time and ensure picking accuracy with our order-picking solutions.

Our Modula Warehouse Order Picking Solutions include:

Get a closer look at our Modula Warehouse Order Picking Solutions:

Modula presents the new picking solutions to automate and speed up warehouse operations

A Quick Recap on Warehouse Slotting

To recap, warehouse slotting or inventory slotting is the process of creating an efficient organization strategy in a warehouse.

This process is typically dependent on SKU number, SKU velocity, product type, product groupings and more to determine the ideal warehouse setup.

At Modula, we offer intuitive and state-of-the-art automated solutions to ensure picking accuracy and efficiency, streamline warehouse storage, and take your material handling to the next level.

Ready to automate your warehouse?