Order Picking Issues – Part 2

Order picking still giving you a major headache?

As mentioned last week, order picking is key to effective order fulfilment.  Your warehouse is a vital part of your company. If your warehouse is efficient, your company has a better chance of succeeding. That is why identifying and correcting common order picking problems with warehouse efficiency is so important – you need to know what your problems are and how to fix them.

Half Picked Orders.

Orders that are only half-picked are generally put back if the remaining items are not available, and fulfilment is postponed. Doing this leads to unhappy customers and potential negative reviews. However, despatching half-orders increases your overall shipping costs.

If you often find that your systems say you have an item in stock when you don’t then forget Amazon and eBay. They will take you down if you fail this fundamental test. We have known eBay Power Sellers who have lost over £100k in revenue because of this.

Solution:

The ultimate solution is to manage your allocation properly which means orders are only half-picked if you’re happy to do a partial shipment. This is a business decision that can be set as a rule or reviewed against each order that can’t be fulfilled.

Your e-commerce platform is unlikely to give you this. Without it, half-picked and cancelled orders will be routine. With the right warehouse workflows in place, you’ll be able to improve warehouse efficiency for good.

Fixed Product Locations

Having fixed locations eliminates the potential for flexibility to allocate high-demand items closer to the pack bench when necessary. It also means that warehouse space is not fully optimised, costing money and resources.

Inefficiency here usually means replenishment is made into a bigger issue, which itself results in more manual data entry to make stock location and inventory changes. The ultimate sign this is costing you is continuous stock takes that the team rely on for accurate inventory updates.

Solution:

Introduce a WMS that allows for dynamic locations. This will mean that you can put multiple stock keeping units (SKUs) in one location, as well as putting single SKUs in multiple locations. By doing this, you will make much better use of the space in your warehouse, save money and postpone the need to move to a larger site.

Team Knowledge

Time is required to train pickers on the layout of the warehouse. When peak season hits and temporary staff are taken on, the same training cannot be afforded. Having this reliance on your pickers to know where everything is will cost time and money without providing a sufficient return.

Solution:

With a WMS, the location of every SKU should be recorded. This means that when an item needs to be picked, the location is shown on the mobile app, eliminating all need for pickers to memorise the locations. This also means that temporary pickers can start using the system immediately, without the need for involved orientation.

Order Picked in One Run.

This is an inefficient process that wastes valuable time and resources. It also makes the order fulfilment longer leading to dissatisfied customers.

Solution:

The reason that one order is generally picked in one pick run is because it is printed on a sheet of paper. However, by eliminating paper and using WMS workflows instead, pick runs can be devised in the most efficient manner, which can often mean multiple pickers pick items for one order as part of a batch run. The order is then combined at the pack bench, saving time and resources.

No Accountability

No accountability in a team is divisive, demotivating, and hard to manage. Your warehouse manager needs to be in the thick of it to have his pulse on productivity and even then, he’s open to personal bias. Not having this kind of visibility means that you are unable to assess the efficiency of your staff, as well as tracking the progress of an order. This means that you can’t communicate with the customer regarding the status of their order.

Solution:

A suitable WMS with focused e-commerce workflows should provide you will full visibility on all inventory movements, including which member of staff has performed each action. You need this focus in order to have full control over your warehouse processes and to eliminate warehouse chaos for good.

Additional problems to keep an eye on:-

Making a disallowed substitution:

There are times it may be necessary to substitute one item for another, especially in the case of inventory shortages. It may be something as simple as substituting a different package size. In other cases, it may be substituting a completely different part. Any substitutions must be tracked in the warehouse management software, and pickers should not be allowed to deviate from the rules.

Picking a part because it is not properly labelled:

When an item is received into stock, it should have a label solidly attached to it that directly tracks it in inventory. If a part does not have a label, it should be removed from stock and relabelled properly. A picker should never take a product that does not have a label.

To accept marginal performance and not be diligent with finding solutions for picking errors is costly.  Conquer these problems related to errors in order picking with our suggestions over the past 2 weeks and look at upgrading your warehouse management software and bring automation in.

Missed part one? View here

About us

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfilment and manufacturing warehousing.

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