Shipping errors can be detrimental to your ecommerce business. They are one of the main reasons why companies turn to IDS to help with their order fulfillment needs. When a customer places an order online, they are excited to get that item, only to find out that they did not receive what the ordered. More than likely, that customer is not going to purchase again from you in the future. They will go to a competitor. For many ecommerce companies, this happens far too often. Finding ways to limit the amount of shipping errors can be difficult. This blog will discuss ways to help lower or even eliminate the amount of shipping errors with little to no capital expense.
80% of inventory issues occur during the receiving process before a SKU is put into a pick location: bad count, inaccurate labeling, put away not done correctly, etc. Any number of issues can happen during the receiving process, which in turn impacts the accuracy of the pick. If any of these errors occur, the picker will be set up for failure without even being aware of it.
Easily Identifiable Products
When a warehouse worker goes to pick an order, what are they using to identify the product? Are they given a location in the warehouse to go to and then matching a description? Are they matching to an item number? Is that item number or UPC code clearly labeled on the product?
The best way for a picker to identify a product is to match numbers. That number could be the item code or UPC code on the product. Ideally, this would be the only number on the product, but that can sometimes be difficult, especially if the manufacturer number is different from your number. Placing that number in the same location for each product (i.e. upper right corner) can help if there are multiple numbers on the packaging. Putting a label on your entire inventory as it is received can be time consuming, but is necessary to help eliminate errors.
Limit the Amount of Touches
The more times the product is touched before it is packaged increases the amount of errors. It is possible that your errors are not occurring because of bad picks, but rather because the wrong shipping label is being applied to the wrong package. Limiting the amount of times an individual or individuals touch the product/package can reduce the amount of opportunity for error. Look for ways to cut down on the number of touches and you will surely cut down on the number of errors.
Picking/Auditing a Skilled Position
If your product is difficult to identify, starting a new person on the first day picking or auditing orders might lead to more errors. Make sure to have the position of identifying the product a skilled position that might pay a little more or require a more seasoned employee. Maybe the new employees are packaging or restocking until they become more familiar with the product.
Auditing with RF
Radio Frequency (RF) scanning used to be expensive technology, but it’s not anymore. RF is fairly common (heck, even your smart phone can scan a barcode) and almost all systems and software are compatible. Once you have your product barcoded, the next step is to implement an RF audit. Think of this as a supermarket checkout audit. It’s easily the best and most efficient way to ensure you will nearly eliminate all errors. It might take some time and effort to reach this point, but for anyone with a high amount of errors, this should be the ultimate goal.
Another audit that can be added is weight verification. The WMS system knows the weight of the items to be put into the order. By inserting a high speed scale in the pack out process where all orders go across, there is an opportunity to divert orders not within a weight tolerance. This is not the end all be all audit, as it may sound, because there are in many operations similar weight products that can give a false feeling of success. There are also operations and/or products that produce different weights because of the time of the year and the amount of humidity in the air. For example, books pick up additional weight during the summer, as they absorb the humidity in the summer air. So, for the two reasons just mentioned, weight verification is a good belt/suspender audit in some operations and 100% accurate in others.
If you are having problems with shipping errors and looking for ways to improve order accuracy and increase customer satisfaction, Contact IDS Today!