You want order accuracy in your supply chain management, look for these things.
You remember. When dealing with a provider, a distributor or anyone else on the supply chain you remember things about the experience. Mostly you remember the bad stuff. If your order has been inaccurately filled, you get something you didn’t order or worse, don’t get something you ordered and paid for, you’re going to remember that. You’re going to lose trust and may decide it’s time to take your business elsewhere.
Think about this: order inaccuracy is going to cost you. It will cost you wasted time, resources and capital when trying to hunt down and correct the inaccuracies. Then, there’s the time and money it’s going to cost if you do decide to move to a different supply chain management. Time and money you cannot afford.
Before you get stuck in that situation, do some research and find out if the supply chain company you’re going with or thinking about moving to, is as accurate as possible.
Here are a few things to look for, to ask about, to check up on before you find yourself stuck with an inaccurate, sloppy supply chain management company.
Are they tracking accuracy rates
Here are some general benchmarks to use as a guide. These can help determine if they should or need to prioritize their order accuracy. If they are accurate, the metrics will show it and you can feel safe going with them.
In general, if their order accuracy is:
Less than 87.7% - They need some serious improvement and need it immediately. Stay away.
85.7% -95% - They’re at a competitive disadvantage and they’re going to need quite a bit of improvement. Probably not your best choice.
Between 95% and 98% - Their rates are typical when compared with most competition. Improvements will certainly make them stand out from the crowd and they are not a bad bet.
Higher than 98% - They’re doing just great. However, if they’re serious about landing your business then they should know that until they reach 99.999999 %, there’s still room to improve and increase your satisfaction.
If you’re still unsure if you want to devote resources to changing your supply chain management, think about this: a 3% increase in perfect order percentage - order accuracy is a component of this - will yield, on average, a 1% increase in profit. Accuracy is going to make money for your business.
Evaluate their pick and pack process
How familiar are they with their pick and pack process? Are they documenting and resolving discrepancies on a regular basis? If they answered no, then you might want to move on. A tight pick and pack is at the heart of order accuracy. Even slight discrepancies in the process could cause otherwise good workers to make mistakes while doing their jobs. And this translates to inaccuracy.
Take some time and interview their workers. From temps to full-time, managers and even the VP of operations, if you can. Find out if they’re working around parts of the system. Find out how they manage to do their jobs in spite of the fact that they may be aware the process is broken, out-dated, ineffective, missing or out of order.
Perhaps they know how things should run but oftentimes, employees will make due or find ways around parts of a system that habitually break down or are dysfunctional. These workarounds could be affecting accuracy.
Having candid conversations with the employees, with no repercussions, is going to clue you into how their process is really working and help you discover if you can work with them, help them fix problems or just walk away. If everything else is good, maybe working with them to initiate fixes is worth it. These fixes could improve accuracy.
Do they weigh everything
Modern order fulfillment software can tell what an order should weigh based on the components that make up the order.
If they are paring their existing software with a scale in order to verify orders before shipping them it shows they are working to bring accuracy closer to that 99.99999% and on to perfection.
How do they handle document insertion
There are some order fulfillment operations that have employees whose sole job is to insert documents. These documents can be anything from coupons to catalogs, instructions, manifests, etc, etc. This is a repetitive manual task and it’s easy to get mixed up.
It’s very easy for a worker to put the wrong document with the wrong order. When this happens it will cause confusion across the board, both internally and with you, the customer.
It might be better if the company has automated this part of their pick and pack system. This is easily achieved with simply adding a barcode to inserts to be scanned at the pick and pack point.. This automation is shown to improve accuracy rates and free up employees to perform more valuable tasks. If they haven’t automated simple tasks like this, perhaps they aren’t ready for your business.
Are they still using pencil and paper
If they’re still using the old paper-and-pencil system where a physical list is carried during the pick and pack process, they are behind the times and need to upgrade before they take on your business
While the pencil-and-paper, list in hand, that system is fine for very small businesses, a larger business, like your own, with significant volume needs more accurate methods. If they were ready for you and serious about accuracy, they would engage a pick-to-light, a pick-to-voice or a mobile scanning system to get better accuracy.
Studies have shown that when operations upgrade from pencil-and-paper to a more integrated form of order processing, they see, on average, a 25% gain in overall productivity. Also, they reduce picking error rates by 67%
All of this means fewer mistakes, less loss of revenue and fewer headaches for you. See where they are and if they’re willing or ready to make the leap to upgrade to a more modern form of order processing. If they shun technology, they may not be right for you.
Do they have a smart slotting strategy
This is the process of organizing the inventory in the warehouse so that items are stored thoughtfully based on a number of factors.
Do they slot to what makes the most sense for their particular operation; physical size, product affinity, etc? Have they taken the time and examined their product’s movement and then adjusted so they can slot better?
This may seem like a small detail however, this can yield great benefits in the form of increasing throughput and improving accuracy. Smart slotting also decreases operator walk and search time looking for SKUs in distant parts of the warehouse.
Again, it goes back to you feeling confident that accuracy is topmost in the minds of a supply chain management company. Accuracy improves customer relations and satisfaction for you.
Do they scan orders
This relies on handheld barcode scanners to scan each item in order to identify each SKU that’s present. This type of technology is particularly helpful in operations that pick multiple items on an order.
Once orders are scanned at the pick point, they are then transferred to the pack station for packing and shipping. Each item is then barcode scanned a second time to ensure the highest level of accuracy. Those orders that do not scan are routed to quality checkers for manual verification. This dual-scan process translates to huge jumps in overall accuracy levels.
A more technologically advanced WMS software, one that scans each item in an order, is always going to be better for you and your business in the way of accuracy.
Get the right professional help
This may seem like a lot. A lot to look for, a lot of questions to ask. Perhaps you’re looking to take your business higher but your current supply chain company needs an upgrade. Or, you suddenly realize your business has grown to the point that you can no longer handle all of this in house and you need professional help. Whichever that case, what you need is a great supply chain management company. One that has technologies in place and solutions to all your accuracy questions.
This is an important step so don’t be shy and don’t settle. Accuracy is going to mean revenue, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and referrals. Check all your boxes, an inaccurate, sub-par supply chain management company is not going to take your business higher.