The rise of e-commerce is one of the unmitigated business success stories of the early 21st century. Convenience and speed have always been major components of the value proposition businesses offer to their customers. Shopping online has certainly upped the ante in that regard. Today, even small companies such as yours have the ability to fill orders for customers through an online portal and have goods delivered in the span of a few days or even sooner.
All consumers need to do is tap their smartphone screen or log onto a website. Within moments, they have created an order. This has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic — as people spend more time at home and are avoiding going to stores in-person.
With so many shoppers relying on online channels to buy necessary items during these trying times, it has never been more important for retailers of all sizes to focus on being as accurate as possible. Receiving the wrong item or missing items undermines a customer’s faith in a company. Further, this misstep can have serious repercussions on your bottom line.
With that in mind, here are ideas to put into practice to help your supply chain and order fulfillment processes function as accurately as possible.
Choose the Right Labels
It’s a relatively simple step to take, but it’s also one where many operations miss the mark. Having the right information in a prominent, consistent spot on every item is crucial to avoid mistakes. Whether your labels include barcodes, item numbers, and/or product descriptions, ensure that personnel can quickly and accurately identify items. Even though this might mean a little extra work as new inventory arrives, it will be well worth the effort when you see more orders fulfilled correctly.
Check the Weight
One of the most basic and effective means of increasing fulfillment accuracy is to weigh every package before shipping. Modern software and scales can tell if an expected shipment is off by a fraction of an ounce. This gives you a chance to correct any errors before the shipment leaves your facility.
Reduce the Number of Touches
A streamlined supply chain means there are fewer opportunities for mistakes. This is why it is crucial to examine your operations and remove any unnecessary touches that may exist. Every time someone in your warehouse or distribution center touches an item, there’s a chance that human error will creep into procedures. Reducing these interactions to the minimum can help prevent that from happening.
Turn to Technology
Barcode scanners, RF tags, and other technological aids are no longer exclusive to the major players. It’s never been easier or more affordable to add these tools and the advantages they bring to your operations. You can scale the system to fit your exact needs and still have room to grow.
Treat Staff Well
Even with all the technology found in the modern warehouse, there’s still no substitute for the people operating it. Enlisting smart, capable employees is another way to improve accuracy better. Be sure to offer them the training and other resources they need to pick and fill orders successfully. You also might consider starting an incentive system to reward those who put up the best numbers.
As a small business, you must do everything possible to keep customers satisfied. This means you can’t leave any part of e-commerce fulfillment to chance. Even though the current health crisis will end someday, what won’t change is how crucial e-commerce will be to your strategy and success. Follow these tips, and you could come that much closer to 100% accuracy for your customer base.
Author bio: Don Amato is Vice President of Sales for Chicago Tag & Label, which manufactures form labels, labels, and tags that deliver solutions to a broad range of industries, including retail, industrial, manufacturing, distribution, and medical environments.