Date: October 11, 2018
With such a competitive landscape, 3PLs who understand their customers’ needs and deliver on their promises of superior customer service can quickly separate themselves from the pack, and position themselves ahead of the competition. Whether fulfillment is a smaller part of your warehouse business or a main driver for growth, you need to deliver the best warehouse pick and pack practices to attain maximum productivity and exceed customer expectations.
To help you achieve these goals, we’ve compiled a checklist of best practices that enable People, Process, and Technology in your warehouse. When implemented, your warehouse will be optimized to deliver on customer expectations without worry.
It’s important that your warehouse staff are set-up to succeed. To determine if your staff have the best shot at perfection, ask the following questions:
Are you integrating experienced warehouse personnel with new, temporary or seasonal employees?
Are you encouraging line staff to constantly think about and provide feedback as to how warehouse processes can be improved?
Are you providing all employees with formal job descriptions? This will clarify their roles and responsibilities and allow employees to better perform.2
Are you clearly articulating the importance of speed, accuracy, and efficiency in warehouse training? Key drivers like these will help staff develop a growth mindset and grow with the business.
Have you invested in an experienced supervisor who can manage and improve all aspects of your warehouse floor?1
Have you given managers sufficient authority to approve changes or procedural overrides? Minor questions on the warehouse floor can lead to major slowdowns. Proper training on how to address issues can provide more effective personnel.
Your overall productivity is the sum of your combined operational processes. A single inefficiency or improvement will be multiplied exponentially day after day. To determine if your picking and packing processes and procedures are following industry best practices, ask the following questions:
Do you know how long it takes your pickers to find and deliver SKUs for packing?
Do you have software, such as a Warehouse Management System, that consolidates all orders from various sales channels and generates a pick list with locations for every order?
Do you have a specific pick location for every SKU? Mixing multiple SKUs in the same bin location has been shown to reduce picking productivity.3
Do you employ different picking techniques like zone picking, batch picking, or wave picking to increase efficiency?4
Does your warehouse store the fastest-moving SKUs as close to ground level as possible?3
Are you storing your fastest-moving SKUs relatively close to one another? This can improve efficiency in the case of multiple-SKU orders - which is especially true if your warehouse offers kitting where items are grouped, packaged, and supplied together as one unit.
Are your pickers separating items by pick type (i.e., batch, individual or bin) to improve speed and accuracy at the packing tables?5
Do you have formalized workflow procedures for your packing stations?
Are packers forced to make extraneous movements to complete their routine tasks?
Does your warehouse employ automated packing software? And is this software located within easy reach of all of packing employees?
Are you providing pre-printed packing lists and receipts – with verified addresses?
Are all items that are fully ready to be shipped clearly marked (e.g., verified addresses, printed receipts and cleared of any holds)? 5
Are all items that need further assistance clearly marked (e.g., unverified address, hold for any reason, or need for additional customer service input)? 5
Is your warehouse packing station properly set up so staff have quick and easy access to all of the materials they need to fulfill items (e.g. tape, boxes, invoices, shipping labels, poly bags, cards, ribbons, etc.)? 2
Have you considered custom kitting strategies to improve speed and efficiency?1
Do warehouse packers have easy access to a conveyer belt or wheeled cart for outbound packages?6
Do packers have easy access to an inline or platform scale?6
The right technology can save your warehouse enormous amounts of time and money – while increasing accuracy and profitability. To determine if your picking and packing technology is on par with today’s standards, ask the following:
Does your warehouse use mobile barcode scanners to improve speed, reduce manual errors, and increase accuracy during both picking and packing?
Can your scanner technology support lot number, serial number capture, expiration date and/or pallet ID?
Are you able to create custom shipping or UCC-128 labels?
Can your WMS create customer-specific rules for custom workflows, billing, tasks, and document creation?
Are you able auto-calculate package weight, assign dimensions, or tare weight?
Is your warehouse able to verify order completion and packing accuracy for every order?
Does your software support real-time carrier rate shopping?
Does your WMS support multiple shipping and delivery billing methods?
Does your warehouse regularly perform inventory audits or cycle counts?
Start your warehouse on the path of 100% picking and packing accuracy. Download these printable checklists to perfect your warehouse's processes and exceed customer expectations.
Our award-winning, cloud-based Warehouse Management System (WMS) was built for the unique needs of today’s 3PL warehousing community. 3PL Warehouse Manager gives warehouses the ability to view, connect, and control their entire fulfillment network from anywhere in the world, on any device, 24/7.
As a dedicated partner to our customers, we offer enterprise-level inventory management, support, connectivity, flexibility and compliance, especially for those operating in increasingly complex environments. We seamlessly integrate with a growing number of eCommerce options, EDI providers, ERP platforms, accounting packages, shipping partners, and other supply chain technologies, for a platform that grows and scales with 3PLs and their customers.
3PL Central provides cloud-based WMS solutions for 3PLs so they can transform paper-based, error-prone businesses into service leaders focused on customer satisfaction, efficient operations, and growth.