Customer satisfaction is a priority for every business as it is imperative for long-term success. This is especially true when it comes to order fulfilment, whether this is done on a B2C or B2B basis.
Consider a scenario where a customer has placed an order. The customer receives confirmation that the order has been processed, shipped, and has received tracking information. They are genuinely looking forward to receiving their package and may even adjust their schedule to make sure they are available to receive it. The package arrives, they open it, only to find out that the item that has been sent is not the one that they purchased. To say the least this is a disappointing situation.
Misshipments can prove especially detrimental to businesses. Not only are they costly from a monetary perspective but also impact a business’ reputation (refer to business reviews on Google for proof). Once a business’ a reputation deteriorates it can be difficult to come back from and can affect revenues. It’s imperative then that a business’ warehouse operations avoid misshipments and try to prevent them from happening. Fortunately, there are ways to do this, so let’s dive in.
Misshipments basically boil down to any order that was shipped from a business incorrectly. Misshipments can be categorized into a few basic scenarios.
An order is sent to the correct address, but the wrong item was shipped (as exemplified in our scenario above).
An order is shipped to the wrong address. In this case the customer receives nothing, while someone else receives the package. This scenario can prove costly for businesses, especially when drop off delivery is used without the need of a customer signature.
An order is sent to the wrong sorting facility or post office. This often happens due to a clerical error where the end destination may have the same name (think Madison, Wisconsin vs Madison, New York) or else a sorting mistake.
Whichever of the above scenarios occur (or variations of) they all result in the customer not getting the item they ordered in the time they were expecting, invariably costing your business money and time. These costs factors associated with misshipments can be attributed to additional shipping fees, additional fulfilment tasks like putting-away returned items, verifying for damage, re-picking and re-packing the correct item, re-routing charges, and so forth. Overall, misshipments are a cumbersome problem and avoiding them is worthwhile.
Misshipments can be especially problematic when the order is on a B2B level. In these cases, the business which was expecting their order may also lose money or business as the order may have been crucial to their work or project timelines. If your business directly affects that of your customer you can be sure that there will be an unfavourable opinion formed.
Misshipments though don’t have to be an issue your business constantly has to deal with. There are practical approaches which your business can employ so that misshipments are reduced.
Technology can go a long way to help reduce misshipments. And a WMS is a good place to start. Often a misshipment can be traced back to mistakes in your picking and inventory management. A WMS can help ensure that the right items are being picked for the right orders by verifying what items are where in the warehouse and that the items picked correspond to the order a worker is fulfilling.
A WMS will also help you to audit your inventory through methods like cycle counts. This type of periodic audit will help to ensure that the information you have in your WMS matches what is in your warehouse. In this way you will be able to guarantee that items are in the correct locations and in the right quantities, which helps to reduce errors.
Furthermore, your WMS will take in orders from your sales channels. Once orders are placed with your business your WMS will receive them and will have all the correct customer information. This information can then be used to automatically get carrier costs and the corresponding labels for your packages. This avoids situations where manual entries are required which often are the cause of a misshipment. By automating and digitizing the relay of information for customer order data you take this variable out of the equation.
Even if you can guarantee that all your inventory is in exactly the right place in your warehouse this still doesn’t mean errors can’t occur. A worker might misinterpret an order, simply misspick the wrong item, or put it into the wrong package. Whichever the case barcode scanning can help in this area. A WMS like Akatia’s WAM syncs live with our mobile scanner application. When a warehouse worker goes to either put inventory away or pick and pack, the scanning of the barcodes on the storage locations and items verifies with certainty that the action they are taking is the right one. This type of force scan and verification methodology can almost bring misshipments associated with warehouse tasks down to zero. If the scanning does not happen the worker cannot move to the next step in the fulfilment or putaway processes, thus guaranteeing reliability.
Despite our best efforts errors will occur from time to time. And that’s okay, we just want to be sure that this isn’t the norm but rather the exception. So, in the odd instances that a misshipment does occur be sure that your business has a top notch returns and customer service process to deal with these. Make sure that your customer service personnel have the right information available to them. Akatia’s WAM solution is made for Salesforce, this has the advantage of having all your customer, order, and inventory data in one environment. This will help facilitate solving customer issues with misshipments quickly which will be appreciated by your customer.
Misshipments are definitely a challenge for any business that ships products to customers. But as we’ve seen this doesn’t have to be an ongoing battle. By taking the right approach to inventory and order management through the aide of technology, well set processes, and a focus towards customer service you can reduce misshipments to the point where they’re no longer a significant encumbrance to your business. By doing so you will please your customers and ensure that your business runs smoothly and optimally.
If you’re struggling with certain aspects of your warehouse and inventory management or are looking to transform the way you do so, click the link below to get in contact. We’d be happy to help!