Receiving is the first step–and many say the most crucial one–in a warehousing operation, and I have to agree. If our warehouse did not receive our customers’ items, in good order and on a regular basis, we would have nothing to ship out to their clients and customers.
So, although receiving is not glamorous, it has got to be done right or the whole fulfillment process goes straight to heck. Receiving done right is step one for an efficient, well-run warehouse.
Whether you run your own warehouse or work with a fulfillment partner to handle your company’s shipments, here are four best practices for receiving that you’ll want to consider.
In order to better coordinate the receipt of shipments, many warehouses have implemented electronically transmitted Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASN). ASN — also known as incoming receipt –allows a warehouse to better plan for the shipments headed their way. It prevents the clogs and slowdowns that occur when multiple shipments arrive at once, overtaxing both staff and the loading dock and serves as a quality-control check for the client to ensure all items they ordered have been delivered to the warehouse.
Experts agree that when shipments arrive, they should not sit around. The longer a shipment sits on the dock, awaiting processing or storage, the more errors occur. Also, the greater the potential for the inventory to be damaged, cause congestion, create safety issues and not be in its proper bin when orders for it arrive. Receiving clerks should audit and inspect shipments for damage immediately, notify their customers and the shipper of any issues and then immediately start putting up the inventory received.
Barcodes and SKUs have made tracking inventory so much easier and more efficient. Warehouses should make use of these systems and have the latest in scanning equipment for their staff to use. Also, the most adept warehouses use computerized inventory management systems to keep track of their customers’ products. These systems allow warehouse staff to record receipt of shipments electronically so that their clients can check on inventory and keep track of their shipments as well as orders.
Putting newly arrived inventory in the wrong place happens way too often, and as you can imagine, causes all kinds of problems when it comes time to pick, pack and ship orders. These mistakes are easy to avoid if items are given SKUs and a readable name when they are first received in the warehouse.
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