Everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes to warehouse management, mistakes can be costly. Not only does a fulfillment mistake sap profits when the wrong items are shipped, they can also give customers a poor impression of your business, causing customers to defect to a competitor. Mistakes cost your business anywhere from a few dollars a year to thousands of dollars per year.
There are several steps you can take to reduce fulfillment mistakes and in turn, improve profitability.
- Automate your warehouse. Automated warehouses use barcode scanners, warehouse management systems, and other tools to log goods into the warehouse and log them out again during fulfillment. Such systems reduce the amount of manual errors made by failing to count items, mistaken counts, and mistakes during data entry.
- Add structure to the process. If your warehouse doesn’t have a structured process for receiving orders, picking, packing and shipping, you are leaving the success rate on your order fulfillment to chance. You can reduce mistakes and close gaps in the system by creating a structure and process that details each step for your employees. Make sure that the process is in writing, and train your employees on each step in the process. Don’t leave it to your employees to create the steps in the process or you will end up with many, perhaps competing, processes in place.
- Reduce the number of steps in order fulfillment. Another area that can be problematic for many companies is that the number of steps it takes to fulfill orders is so lengthy and complicated that employees can’t remember them easily. Any process with more than a handful of steps is open to mistakes. Spend some time in the warehouse working alongside your team to actually see what’s working and what doesn’t. Then update the process, reducing redundant steps and making it simple and effective.
- Set a baseline to measure improvement. You may have heard from employees that there are ‘many’ mistakes being made in the shipping process. Just how many mistakes qualify as ‘many?’ Whenever you can, quantify the situation and set a baseline so that you will know for certain whether improvements you make are having the desired effect.
Let’s assume that you know that as of today, 5% of orders have a mistake in them. When you examine this data, you see that employees are mixing up packages, placing the wrong packages in the wrong shipper’s bins. This delays orders because the packages are returned from the incorrect shipper.
Given that 5% figure and an understanding of the nature of the problem, you can now take action steps to rectify it. You can reward employees for reducing the error rate. There are many things you can do to reinforce the positive nature of your improvements. Without the baseline, however, there’s no way to know whether changes made any impact at all.
Contact BAASS for Warehouse Management Insights
BAASS can help you improve the effectiveness of your warehouse. From managing complex data to reducing mistakes, our consultants are experienced with the challenges of running a modern warehouse. Contact us at 1-866-260-5302.