Removing Human Error at Goods In
Goods In, also known by various other names such as Receive, Good Receipt and Inbound, is the lynchpin of any warehouse. But making it as efficient as possible is clearly an ongoing challenge for many retailers. Judging from the responses to our recently published 2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report, human error appears to be a recurring problem.
Understandably, with items arriving in pallets in large quantities it is often difficult to unwrap and check each and every one. But in all cases, miscounting and not checking all items actually received against POs inevitably results in time wasted in reconciling orders and inventory levels later on, not to mention the risk of overpayment for goods, missed sales opportunities, and dissatisfied customers.
Performing regular stock takes is the solution but manual counting is inefficient as it increases the cost of labour and lowers the return. It also increases the risk of further mistakes being made, misplaced or lost orders, and inaccurate stock figures appearing online.
As your businesses grows and more goods are being ordered and received, you simply don’t have the time to keep on playing detective to identify what went where in order to try and remedy the situation.
Clearly, prevention has to be better than cure, so here are some best practices to consider for minimising human error at Goods In, and for streamlining the whole process:
Forewarned is Forearmed
Don’t risk being swamped by unexpected deliveries to the warehouse. It is time consuming and stressful for operatives to deal with deliveries appearing out of the blue, at any time of day or night, and risks errors being made.
Establish a process for creating a planned deliveries schedule. No more surprises!
Need for speed
Once goods arrive there’s usually an invoice attached. Therefore, the faster you can record them in your warehouse stock levels, label containers, and reconcile items against orders, the better.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can help you do this quickly and accurately by simple scanning of barcodes. It will also make it easy to advise suppliers about receipt of deliveries without them having to chase.
If it’s broke, fix it
It’s a fact of life that pallets sometimes arrive at the warehouse broken with damaged goods inside.
This calls for a fast and smooth process to be put in place for capturing proof of damage and returning individual, or all, items concerned.
Can’t read the label
Pallets or the items therein can sometimes arrive with illegible labels or insufficient description attached rendering them as good as useless. If this is a regular occurrence with certain suppliers it is clearly frustrating and a waste of your Goods In team’s time to second guess what’s inside.
Some WMS will allow you to receive your deliveries without scanning the items, and automatically record as received all items and quantities on the order.
Incorrect PO entry
We’re all human and from time to time errors can occur at the put away stage with incorrect POs being assigned to individual items or batches – a dead cert for causing reconciliation headaches further down the line. Manually tracking back to mend the error of your ways is often time consuming and a hassle you or your warehouse team could do without.
A WMS will make it easy to rectify by allowing a swift amendment to allocating the right products to the right PO.
Prove it or lose it
Unpacking goods for put away can carry unwanted surprises. You’ve counted them and recounted but still the 1000 items you know you ordered only adds up to 900. Your PO confirms the 1000 items that but so does the supplier’s delivery note, stock system and invoice. How will you prove what you actually ordered is not what you received? A foolproof way is by weighing pallets at time of delivery.
A WMS can help you quickly and easily record this data and if it’s under, or indeed overweight an email can be generated to alert the supplier and rectify the situation before it turns into a potential dispute.
Weighing individual items at Goods In is also a good way of avoiding unnecessary holds up at despatch. Many retailers leave it until the point of despatch to weigh items for customer delivery, creating a bottleneck and risking pre-arranged delivery slots being missed with carriers. Not a good recipe for continued customer loyalty.
The sooner you can record returned items and advise customers that a refund or agreed exchange is on the way, the better. However, doing this manually is time consuming.
A WMS can help by recording what was returned and whether or not it can be resold, and then notifying the external systems that handle the customer contact.
In summary, a faster and more accurate method to managing Goods In can be achieved by using a fit for purpose e-commerce WMS, allowing goods to be scanned in and automatically reconciled against a PO. Barcode scanning eliminates the margin for human error and ensures that all delivered items are correctly recorded. The correct stock figures will be listed online, meaning fewer oversells or missed sales opportunities.
If you would like to learn more about how Peoplevox can help you make your e-commerce warehouse more efficient, contact us anytime for a free, no obligation consultation. Also visit Peoplevox Labs to see how our Free and easy to use Android Apps can help with your Goods In operations.