In our time, we’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of warehouses. We often see some awesome growth but, unfortunately, we also see some less amazing eCommerce order picking. It's normally the same mistakes being made every time so we’ve put together a list and detailed how to avoid them so you can achieve successful fulfilment.
Mistake #1: Picking in bulk with re-sort at pack bench
We get that it’s faster to pick loads of orders at once, chuck them in a plastic box with the pick lists, and pass them on to the packing area. However, your customers have zero sympathy for mistakes, so we’d suggest you choose accuracy over speed. Get the orders right, develop a working system, and then let the speed increase.
Ideally you should put each customer order into its own compartment or box. That way the pack bench doesn’t risk mixing items up for different orders. So, while it will take longer to pick, the packing process will be much quicker, and more accurate.
Mistake #2: Printing invoices in advance & writing on them
With a manual system, you have to print the pick list (invoice) in advance of picking. While this is how many new warehouse management system projects initially go live, there are two big issues: First, the invoice gets marked with initials, ticks, crosses, notes and sometimes calculations by the order picker. The end result - it’s ugly when your customer receives it.
Second, the invoice says what was ordered and should have been picked, rather than what was actually picked and shipped. This makes you liable for mistakes due to human error. For example, a customer could phone up saying she was sent a red dress instead of the ruby dress she ordered. The difference may be barely noticeable to a picker with several orders to complete but the customer wants what they've ordered and you will have no way to check whether the right item was sent.
Mistake #3: Manually sorting invoices for prioritisation
If you’re sorting and printing invoices based upon other criteria, like carrier (see above), this is more reasonable. The best way is to have multiple filters and then release to handheld barcode scanners and not print the pick list (invoice) at all. You would only print that at the end of the pick when you are packing, so the picker goes paperless. This means no more print runs and real time filtering and release so orders are being picked minutes after they are placed on your eCommerce site.
As an extra tip for order fulfilment, you may want to sort Amazon first because the ratings are often critical there.
Click here to read the Top 5 eCommerce order picking mistakes Part 2.