Your order fulfillment processes are key to customer satisfaction. It’s the final stage of receiving and fulfilling orders, and requires accurate, cost-effective processes. It’s where you should be applying most of your planning, resources, and investment, because errors here cost valuable time and money for both you and your customers. And in both instances, that’s a direct hit to your bottom line.
The way to keep customers? Come as close to making your order fulfillment accuracy perfect. With these five tips, you can avoid the errors that cost you time and money, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and hone your competitive edge
- Start with Your Vendors. It all goes downstream. The accuracy of put-away, movement, kitting, picking and shipping relies almost entirely on receiving. Right out of the gate items need to be properly identified and counted or errors will just snowball from receipt on. Communication with your vendors is key to making this happen. They need to offer clear labels that are simple and easy to identify. As logistics technology advances, they should be keeping up with it, offering barcoded identification at minimum. To boost efficiency significantly, ask your vendor to also label every pallet with a unique barcode that they send along with their advanced ship notice, letting you receive your items with a single barcode scan.
- Validate Receipts. Once you’ve identified your shipment, you need to immediately take the next step and validate the items you’ve received against the original purchase order. This can be done by hand, but that tends to be both time-consuming and error-prone. Automating validation processes is the fastest and most accurate way to expedite shipping and ensure that your orders are correct every time.
- Validate Put-Away Bins. If you’re not recording your receipts accurately, then all the effort you put into accounting for them is wasted when goods are put into bins. Too often warehouse procedures simply validate at receipt and assume that any errors will be caught at that stage, forgetting that double-checks are essential for near-perfect accuracy, and that new errors can be introduced at every step. Bin numbering schemes should be uncomplicated, allowing workers to locate them quickly and record bin numbers accurately for each item, whether by hand or if you implement barcode scanning and identification.
- Make Picking Simple. Manual picking still exists, but it’s become significantly less cost-effective compared to radio frequency (RF)-directed picking. RF technology is dropping in price, and it’s become essential to the accuracy of fulfillment. It streamlines picking and boosts accuracy. With RF picking, the warehouse management system directs personnel directly to bin locations, while the worker’s barcode scanner confirms the location and the completion of pickup.
- Validate Picks. As always, validation is key at every step, particularly in the last step before the order is taped up and sent off to your soon-to-be-satisfied customer. Workers can be stationed to inspect each order and check it off, or you can leverage your WMS to validate barcodes against your database records and the original order.
In the end, order fulfillment might be the most complex warehousing function, where all the most important stages converge, from receiving and put-away to picking, packing and shipping. It’s where you need to get orders right—and achieving accuracy is simpler than you think.
If you think it's time to look into outsourcing all your fulfillment options so you have the freedom to focus your efforts on sales and marketing, contact IntegraCore today. We have 99.8% order accuracy and have the experience and knowledge to take your fulfillment to the next level. Our team is always available to help you recognize if outsourcing is a good decision for you. We can help put in place the right procedures, the right technology, and the right controls so your customers are happy and you can focus on what you do best.