In today’s world accuracy and reliability are some of the most important requirements for companies in the fulfillment and logistics industry. With the ever-growing online e-commerce market and the huge boom in online business in general over the last couple decades the fulfillment and logistics industry has had an immense change.
Long gone are the days of being able to prepare a package for shipment days or even weeks in advance and to take its place are the days of packages needing to be picked and packaged in a matter of minutes/hours after an order being placed to have the customers receive their package on time as expected.
The current generation and speed of which we access information through the Internet is astonishing and that same increase in speed has led most customers to want their products they shop for online to arrive just as quickly. With the increase in speed though, comes an increase in the chance of errors and mistakes occurring and since we are all human it is inevitable that eventually there will be an error.
Hope is not all lost though and there are procedures that can be put in place to cut down on errors and mistakes as much as possible. To find those solutions you must first understand the problem. Why do shipments get lost or why are orders shipped incorrectly in the first place? There are a multitude of reasons one can come up with as to what causes these mistakes to occur but to narrow it down I want to cover the major ones and not so much the outliers. Cut down on the majority of the causes and you will be left with so few reasons they can be tackled one by one.
A warehouse that relies on software that is unreliable is probably the number one cause of mistakes and errors in orders. For those companies, their customers can end up experiencing inventory inaccuracies, lost shipments, or shipment errors which all come from ineffective and poor warehouse management on the part of the human aspect, the software platform, or both.
A 3PL that can provide sophisticated warehouse management solution, or WMS software, has the capabilities of drastically improving reliability and efficiency of their fulfillments process which in turn means less mistakes and errors and an increase in happy, yet more importantly, returning, customers.
Other reasons for fulfillment errors are a lack of automation, poor order allocation, non-effective picking procedures, and human error, lack of training, or poor warehouse management. Lets discuss these one by in one detail:
- Lack of automation: Companies that do not incorporate barcode scanning or radio frequency technology during their warehouse operations risk losing track of products, and with it accountability, and compromise their overall accuracy. Being able to rely on a system that can create an extra step in quality control is paramount to reducing errors and increasing accuracy. Relying on the old bulky barcode scanners of the past is now a crutch and in a world where old technologies are no longer reliable, the barcode scanners have progressed towards being accessible within a device which we all already posses, a smartphone. By implementing the correct software applications with a smartphone, a new and improved barcode scanner can replace the outdated technology with minimal costs.
- Poor order allocation: A major issue is not being able to notify customers or staff of important events and poor visibility, which creates a loss of shipment and products or even sending products to wrong locations. Warehouse management software needs to have visibility to all users and be able to notify customers and staff of key events in real time so that if an error does occur, it can be remedied before it escalates. Some WMS do this more effectively than others. The ones that provide the best and quickest notifications are the ones that provide the most value to their users.
- Non-effective picking procedures: Without having a good pick & pack operation that is backed by software that incorporates automated fulfillment, receiving, storing, picking and providing accurate product/bin information the effectiveness of the warehouse is not at optimal levels. A 3PL needs to have the correct picking procedures in place that takes advantage of the software to increase accuracy and decrease the time it takes to process orders. Being able to leverage quality control and processes to check accuracy is paramount to providing the best fulfillment service possible. A company must maximize this to its limit in order to be able to scale their operations and not implode due to exponentially increasing errors along with increase in their size.
- Human error: Obviously a system that relies solely on Human quality control is always open to error at some point no matter how vigilant and careful the employee. That is why it is important to increase the automation as much as possible so that the inventory and fulfillment process can rely on an extra level of quality control and having a safety net to reduce problems and errors.
- Lack of training: Warehouses that spend more time on training and supervising the employees allow there to be fewer errors for both inbound and outbound logistics. Workers who are also awarded for their efforts in great performance are less likely to make mistakes in the future. Having the capabilities to track this through software allows there to be greater accountability of employees. The learning curve of the software platform is a huge signal of whether it is the right choice or not for a business. There must be way for a company to have their employees be able to learn to operate the software at least at a minimal level within their first day or so to be able to complete the fulfillments process. Maybe they will not be able to learn all the bells and whistles and full functionality of the software buy a basic understanding of it is a must relatively quickly if it is to be successful within a large workforce. It must be straightforward and have full documentation so that if for some reason there is a question they have a place to go to find the answers and if they do not find what they are looking for there needs to be a support staff behind the software ready to assist with anything at all times.
- Poor warehouse management: Having the warehouse be properly organized, maintained and labeled throughout with an electronic system and physical layout reduce the chances of both picking errors and outbound issues. A software which can provide guidance for organizing and laying out inventory and then uses complex algorithms to find the most effective picking routes for employees increases proficiency and speed while maintaining accuracy across the board.
The causes to all of these issues can be solved by implementing a cloud-based inventory management solution such as Shipedge which offers accurate, transparent information in real-time. By increasing order fulfillment accuracy with communication of all incoming orders and product details and reducing/eliminating common data entry errors, Shipedge offers both 3PLs and their customers a solution, which creates a positive experience for all parties involved.
Shipedge is an affordable software platform that is completely web-based which will help 3PLs increase accuracy and efficiency, which in turn increase profitability along the way. As the first software to truly integrate an order management system with inventory/warehouse management software into one seamless software platform, Shipedge is leading the way in innovation for 3PLs and the fulfillment industry as a whole.
The future of logistics is now and the companies that are providing services to the customers of commerce must advance with it. Shipedge is quickly climbing the ladder and getting noticed by industry leaders as it continues to power more and more fulfillment corporations and partner with even more software companies around the world.