Increase Accuracy in Your Warehouse

 In Blog, Inventory Management

An accurate warehouse is the elusive and mysterious love interest of your distribution order-to-cash cycle. We’ve all been pining and dreaming of this pairing. The goal is clear, but it’s the getting there that makes things complicated. We’re afraid of making a misstep, or even worse — standing idly by, too afraid to take a risk.

Managing your warehouse is all about seizing opportunities. You can’t will an accurate warehouse into existence, so you’ve got to put in the work to achieve it. Luckily, we have plenty of advice on how to do just that.

Wave goodbye to human error

Your greatest asset in the warehouse can also be the source of your downfall — your employees. With the right atmosphere and tools, your warehouse crew is capable of great feats of accuracy, but they’re still human. Unfortunately, your workers are bound to make some mistakes. And the more manual your order fulfillment processes are, the more susceptible you are to these mix-ups.

A huge part of reducing inaccuracies is achieved through first reducing the opportunity for human error. There are a handful of ways you can go about doing that, but implementing reliable technology is a step in the right direction.

Enter barcoding.

Behold, barcoding, that very technology your warehouse could be missing! For those who aren’t familiar, we have a handy definition of barcoding here. Essentially, this is the process of assigning easily scannable images to every piece of stock in your warehouse. The image, or barcode, houses encrypted information about that item. This way, all you have to do is scan the item, and the necessary information is collected. Say goodbye to clipboards, sticky notes, and random Excel documents — barcoding makes tracking and ensuring the accuracy of your orders a one-step process.

When you implement barcodes, you have much quicker access to information that previously took ages to find and update. There’s also the added bonus that this information can assist your workers beyond the physical picking process. With barcoding in place, you can easily double-check that you have the correct item, mark it off the order so other employees know it’s been picked, and update your inventory count for up-to-the-minute accuracy that won’t throw a wrench in the accuracy of your listings elsewhere.

Limit overspending, limit repetitive work, and limit mistakes by barcoding your inventory.

Take it a step further with RFIDs

For those who have yet to implement barcoding in their warehouse, don’t be afraid to keep things simple. This process, while worthwhile, will take some serious, dedicated time to implement, so all the more reason to just focus on the basics for now.

However, for those who know and love their barcoding system, don’t fret that you’ve hit a ceiling on your productivity levels. There’s plenty of new tech you can embrace in your warehouse, including an RFID strategy.

RFID vs 2d barcode

A little learning moment

You may ask yourself, “What is RFID?” We’ve already answered that question here, but what it essentially boils down to is this: RFID is the use of radio frequency fields to track your inventory, no matter where it goes. Users will apply these frequency tags to every item in their warehouse, and they’ll have complete access to the product’s information and location without having to manually scan it.

RFIDs are still on the up-and-up, an emerging technology that shows great promise for the future of distribution. RFIDS can be a great way to avoiding some more complicated standards of barcodes.

See you never, bottlenecks

As we know, human error alone can’t account for everything that goes wrong in the warehouse. We can’t forget about one of the greatest threats to your accuracy — bottlenecks. We often discuss how bottlenecks are the enemy of efficiency, halting processes and causing unnecessary gaps in production. However, those inefficiencies don’t just slow down your order-to-cash cycle. They also invite more chances for miscommunication, which is the perfect fertilizer for mix-ups in your order fulfillment process. Most of your current bottlenecks are likely fueled by poorly optimized processes. Luckily, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to amend that.

Get accurate with workflows

When we think of “accuracy” in the warehouse, our minds jump to one specific interpretation. We imagine the picking process where the wrong item gets packed or is completely forgotten. However, inaccuracies can occur at any point in your fulfillment process. Inaccuracies can sneak up on you anywhere, in the form of missed steps, wonky barcodes, or entire packages and bins getting mixed up or lost. These steps are all things related to the “process” rather than just picking alone, which means you need a broader, more powerful tool to help combat that. This is where workflow becomes especially handy. We even included an example one below for inspiration. 

example of workflow

Workflow not only establishes a precedent for your process, it also ensures that more complicated orders can be fulfilled without hassle or mistakes. Your workflow is the ultimate productivity flow chart. It’s a widely circulated, universally trusted system for completing your order-to-cash cycle. With it, all your employees are on the same page. They can also easily retrace their steps if something does go awry.

A note on accuracy and customer satisfaction

The drawbacks to making mistakes in your warehouse are obvious, but there’s a direct line between mixing up orders and losing money for your company. The biggest threat to your overall profitability comes when your customer returns an item. In 2020, Statista found that return delivery costs in this country alone added up to $550 billion. In the age of online superstores like Amazon, speed and convenience are king. Your customers expect to get things easily, and they don’t have much patience for bumps in the road. By implementing more strategies to ensure the accuracy of the orders you ship out, you’re actively investing in the future of your company.

The key to maintaining positive relationships with your customers is ensuring that they can trust you to consistently deliver what they need. Of course, creating that experience takes more than just an accurate picking processes. A great business strategy starts in your warehouse, so it’s essential that you’ve optimized this sector as much as possible. Your warehouse holds tons of productivity potential, you just need the tools to bring it to life — tools we’re happy to provide. Check out our ebook on using your warehouse space wisely, and how you can change the game with your item classification and picking methods.

warehouse management

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