A mere five years ago, standard shipping times could encompass as much as seven to ten business days, a seeming eternity compared to today’s demands for fast shipping within one to three days. Over 50% of current online shoppers expect same-day delivery options, posing a challenge for large and small warehouses alike. On top of smaller delivery timeframes, current labor shortages further complicate a warehouse’s ability to quickly move inventory from receiving to shipping. As a result, growing warehouses are now following the trend in equipping shifting workforces with a new layer of automation, thus accelerating repetitive tasks while freeing up employees to focus on more pressing workflows. Zebra’s latest warehousing vision study shows that 79% of growing warehouses have begun to target their inbound operations to streamline inventory management as soon as product arrives at the receiving dock. This often accomplished with initiatives resembling the points below:
- Certify product identification before pallets leave the receiving dock – If products are labeled improperly when they arrive, they are more likely to get lost or mis-shipped later in the supply chain. Consider rugged enterprise labels to prevent early fading or peeling edges that often interfere with successful data capture.
- Eliminate manual keying in of data – Even a 1% error rate can result in a thousand-dollar loss if left unchecked due to mis-shipments, spoiled inventory, fees, and return costs. To prevent costly errors, intelligent data capture solutions can connect data directly to your WMS without additional paper-and-pencil systems. For example, Zebra’s MC9300 mobile computer and SimulScan can capture multiple barcodes simultaneously at any direction, accelerating order processing while eliminating risks for mistakes.
- Integrate real-time tracking for high-demand products – No matter your warehouse size, real-time inventory visibility proves to be essential in preventing misplacements and facilitating tracking. RFID tags also eliminate the need for multiple trigger-pulls since one tag can hold as much as 40 codes, thus reducing operational costs by accelerating inventory counting.
While these are popular ways warehouses have begun optimizing operations, there are many more ways to refine inbound operations. Whether it’s through effective product sorting or ship notice reconciliation, a streamlined receiving dock should be noticeable by the following benefits:
- Reduced instances of lost inventory
- Minimized surprise out of stocks
- Higher order fulfillment rates
- Less touchpoints in the unloading process
- Seamless data-logging to empower faster audits and product tracking
To see how your growing warehouse can harness any of these benefits, contact our automation team for a comprehensive assessment of your current workflows and explore more solution options dedicated to streamlined inbound operations.