Best Practices for Scanning Warehouse Inventory

Date: November 17, 2020


Warehouse Best Practices & 1984

Imagine a world where everyone’s location is tracked 24/7 with a unique GPS identifier associated with every individual. While this sounds like a dystopic scene from 1984, it’s exactly how we want to organize our warehouses. We track warehouse item locations with barcodes, assign pick jobs and track their completion, and verify orders are correct before sending them to customers.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a warehouse operations manager who mentioned, “All our customers care about is that we ship their orders on time and to the right address.” To meet that expectation means that third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses must know the status and whereabouts of every SKU and order at all times, even after handoff to the shipping carrier. Mobile barcode scanning gives warehouses the visibility and power to satisfy their customer service level agreements and achieve higher order accuracy rates, minimize mis-picks, and improve customer satisfaction levels.

According to 3PL Central’s 2020 Third-Party Logistics Industry Benchmark Report, 39% of 3PLs have already implemented mobile barcode scanning and 31% of the warehouses who haven’t yet leveraged this technology plan on adopting it in 2021. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to improve operational efficiency next year by adopting best practices for scanning warehouse inventory.

Best Practice 1: Gain Complete Inventory Visibility with Reporting

Wouldn’t it be nice to share a real-time view of your customers’ inventory through a self-service portal? Think about the high volume of emails customers send warehouse staff every day and the tedious work required to generate inventory-related reports manually. What if you could avoid manual report generation altogether?

The first step to helping customers generate their own inventory reports is to track each inventory item as it moves throughout the warehouse with a mobile scanning solution.

After ensuring every inventory item has a barcode throughout the storage facility, warehouse managers can then pull up their warehouse management system (WMS) like 3PL Warehouse Manager to view all inventory by customer or SKU, and generate reports showing inventory by location and other movable unit information such as dimensions, storage location temperature, or expiration date. Staff can also share access to customer-specific inventory information through 3PL Warehouse Manager’s customer portal.

Best Practice 2: Boost Staff Productivity with Pick Job Automation

Many 3PLs we’ve encountered face labor force headwinds with increasing labor costs. In addition, 47% of 3PL warehouses are having trouble finding and attracting qualified workers. Cutting labor costs Tools like SmartScan that assist in automating pick jobs can help supplement an already constrained labor force. It enables warehouses to track and assign single or batch order pick jobs through a mobile device, having employees update the inventory’s status when an item is picked. Automating pick jobs enables logistics professionals to process more pick jobs in less time, greatly boosting productivity levels. Say goodbye to the guesswork of searching for pick jobs or trying to read illegible handwriting – go paperless instead.

Best Practice 3: 100% Accuracy with Order Verification

Mispicks are expensive. A single mispick could cost a warehouse $22. With thousands of orders processed every month, even a small number of errors can quickly add up. A best practice for maintaining 100% accuracy is order verification. The way order verification works is a WMS tool like SmartPack confirms an order is correct by scanning the item(s) that are being packed for that particular order. If the items on the order are incorrect, the mobile device or scanner will output an error message, preventing the user from marking an order as complete. By preventing the order from completing until the items are correct, this added layer of assurance can prevent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in mis-pick corrections to the warehouse.

To request a demo and see how you can implement best practices for scanning inventory, click here.


Nathan Schlaffer

Written by Nathan Schlaffer

Nathan is an experienced SaaS product marketing manager who is passionate about creating compelling product messaging. Working closely with product, marketing, and sales teams, he is responsible for crafting effective product strategies and content to share the benefits and features of 3PL Central's solutions for third-party logistics warehouses. Previously, he has shared technology solutions with state DOTs such as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and wireless solutions for warehouse AGV manufacturers.