Warehouse operations have a big role to play in satisfying customers. It’s the warehouse’s role to ensure that the right items are being sent to the customer. Ensuring that the right products are being picked for orders becomes crucial in having a reliable order accuracy rate that your business and above all your customers can rely on.
Order accuracy can prove challenging due to the many steps and factors that are involved in the order fulfilment process. One of the more common challenges that arise is in picking accuracy. Yet with a few practical changes supported by the right tools and technology warehouses can improve this part of their order fulfilment process. Let’s discuss how.
Now, we’ve just thrown out a few terms so it’s important that we define them for clarity. The fulfilment process involves all the steps the warehouse follows and that are required to fulfill an order. This includes everything from the order generation, order assignment, picking, packing, labeling, and shipping, amongst other requirements. As we can see picking is only part of this process. Picking accuracy involves the selection of the correct items for orders within the fulfilment process. And the order accuracy is the percentage of orders fulfilled that make it from the warehouse to their destination, without any errors occurring within the entire fulfillment process.
Picking accuracy has a big part to play in making sure that the fulfilment process and order accuracy transpire without error. If an item is wrongly picked it results in time lost and extra costs, whether the error is realized in the warehouse or by the customer. Either case is not ideal. Implementing changes that support picking will improve both efficiency and positively affect your bottom line. So, what are some of these changes that can be implemented?
One thing that you can focus on immediately is your warehouse organization. It sounds obvious to say, but disorganization can cause many problems when it comes to your picking. Simply considering where and how items are stored can make the picking much easier and reduce errors. Think too about using labels to clearly mark locations, have clear signage, as well as optimize the layout so that pick routes and traffic flow are more efficient. This will save time and confusion.
Your picking strategy can also have an impact on accuracy and efficiency. Discreet picking, where one worker picks the items for a single order may not be efficient for larger scale operations. Instead consider the complexity and number of orders you fulfill daily, as well as the size of your warehouse. Zone picking for example may be more appropriate as it breaks complex orders down and lets workers concentrate of one zone of the warehouse. The worker also becomes more familiar with their zone of the warehouse which increases accuracy.
Barcode and mobile scanning technology can greatly improve picking accuracy. This is because barcode scanning confirms which item is being picked and from which location against the order. By introducing mobile scanners warehouses guarantee that their picking is correct. Forced scanning also standardizes the picking process which means no worker can skip a step. If they try circumvent a step then the worker cannot proceed to the next stage in the order fulfilment process. Many of Akatia’s customers have leveraged our mobile scanning application, WAM Mobile, to improve this facet of order fulfilment. Additionally, with WAM Mobile your order process and inventory management happen in real-time, providing full visibility of the warehouse operation.
Of course, the biggest x-factor when it comes to accuracy will be by having the right WMS technology in place. WMS technology will support the previous three areas we highlighted: warehouse organization, picking strategy, and barcode/mobile scanning. A WMS will provide full visibility over your entire warehouse operation and ideally in real-time, like Akatia’s WAM solution for Salesforce does. It will also help you to introduce automation into your order fulfilment process, including the picking stage. Because the WMS accurately tracks your inventory from the moment items enter the warehouse your order fulfilment becomes reliable, boosts accuracy, and provides a clear source of validation.
A WMS will also improve the entire order accuracy of your operation. Operations will have a clarity on orders, inventory levels, packing requirements, billing, shipping, as well as consolidating your process driven tasks. Your WMS after some time will also be able to provide key data supported feedback to see how your improvements are working and where adjustments can be made. Akatia’s WAM thrives in this area by providing reporting and analytics features.
As we’ve discussed picking accuracy can pose a challenge to your overall order fulfilment accuracy. Your picking process is probably one of the most vulnerable to error but is one of the most controllable. By implementing a few changes to your warehouse operations your picking accuracy can greatly improve which will support your overall order fulfilment. This will improve not only your efficiency, and worker productivity but your customer satisfaction as well. And isn’t that the main goal.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your warehouse and inventory management through WMS technology, click the link below to get in contact with us. We’d be happy to speak with you!