Maintaining the highest standards of efficiency and effectiveness in product and service delivery is essential. But this can be easier said than done, even after you’ve built your brand and created a consistent stream of consumers.
Every company, no matter how large, will inevitably experience problems in its day-to-day operations. Shipping is a pain point for many e-commerce retailers, and supply chains can be difficult to manage. You want to know where your product is, which warehouse has the stock needed to fulfill specific orders and a real-time view of how much inventory you have at all times. For large companies that sell tens of thousands of SKUs, the challenge is even more daunting. It’s also a huge cost of doing business.
Thankfully, we’re here to help! We’ve assembled a bevy of tips to help ensure that you minimize errors in picking, packing, and shipping, particularly for multi-location warehouses and multi-channel shipping.
What is Multi-channel Shipping?
Before we get started, we should note that this article can be applied to many forms of eCommerce shipping. However, we’ll be offering advice through the lens of multi-channel shipping and fulfillment. Popularized by sites like Amazon, multi-channel shipping is a form of eCommerce shipping in which orders are fulfilled from a variety of locations and warehouses beyond the primary one.
The eCommerce giant Amazon handles the distribution of third-party products to customers from all over the world. Whenever a third party is involved, mistakes are bound to happen because there are simply more variables in play. The more people and steps in the process, the more failure points there can be. A robust system, powered by equally robust software, is key to the streamlining and protection of the picking, packing, and shipping processes.
What Types of Errors Can Occur in Multi-Channel Shipping?
There are quite a few. Here are some of the major ones:
Late items – Customers expect a certain level of service when they order items especially if they are needed by an expected date. If the order doesn’t arrive at the promised or expected date, merchants will experience order cancellations, and some customers may even want compensation for the inconvenience.
Errors in Item Type, Item Quantity, or Delivery Location – These are pretty self-explanatory and shockingly common in eCommerce shipping, especially when there isn’t a real-time view into the best warehouse to ship from based on inventory levels. All of these will frustrate the customer and slow down the process.
Warehouse Quantity Errors – If your site advertises an item as in stock but it is not available due to quantities not updating in your inventory in real-time, then you have effectively misled the customer. This can lead to delays or cancellations and cause the customer to question your reliability.
The Steep Cost of Picking and Shipping Errors in eCommerce Shipping
In short, the cost of picking, packing, and shipping errors in eCommerce Shipping – and particularly multi-channel shipping – can be steep. Couple this with any administrative or operational overhead due to complexity or recurring problems and attempting to fix them, this can have a massive impact on the bottom line.
Cost-per-error: Your business may have an even larger (or smaller!) amount of errors, but how would you determine this? The best way is to calculate your cost-per-error. You can do this by quantifying the actual cost of several actions, such as losing customers, picking up wrong deliveries, write-offs, re-shipments, etcetera. Each of these has a specific impact on the profitability of your business. By identifying problems in this manner, you can take the appropriate level of action to control costs.
Customer Service: One study indicated that customers are likely to tell people about a negative experience rather than a positive one. Most of us have probably experienced this firsthand, whether it’s an order from an eCommerce store or something as simple as a bad meal. One bad experience may convince us, the customer, to take our business elsewhere! Every bad experience can result in negative consequences to your profit margins. Mitigating these errors and ensuring the overall customer experience is stellar can be as simple as sending the correct orders on time at the onset.
Reputation: As common sense dictates, most businesses will not want to partner with a company that is error-prone with order handling and fulfillment. This could be devastating if you are attempting to launch a bundle deal or be featured on a wider variety of storefronts and applications.
This is particularly true in running an eCommerce business, where there are multiple variables at play in ensuring success. You are relying on another company for a service (or are sourcing businesses for products in the supply chain). The better your reputation and the more reliable your processes, the less likely they will look to establish partnerships with other companies.
How to Prevent Errors in Multi-Channel Shipping
Warehouse shipping management doesn’t have to be difficult. There are ways you can mitigate problems in the picking, packing, and shipping processes!
1. Double-check everything: It may seem obvious, but nobody has perfect eyesight. It can be easy to mix up numbers on an address or quantity. Typos are common, and no system is perfect. Addresses may have to be verified as well. Double-checking is also true in fulfillment: Try to have consistency in your fulfillment processes.
2. Employ a barcode scanner: These items are fast and reliable. The financial risk of not having these tools in place as your business outgrows manual processes far outweighs the initial investment. The benefits include saving time, money, and costly mistakes. You will also save on payroll by eliminating some of the tedium of updating inventory and inputting numbers.
3. Hire qualified individuals: Warehouse management is one of the most important aspects of running your business efficiently. Finding the right stakeholders to manage one or more warehouses will shore up whether you are operating with accuracy and efficiency, especially as you bring on more and more locations.
4. Implement an automation process with powerful software: This is perhaps the most comprehensive way to mitigate mistakes in picking and shipping in the multi-channel warehouse shipping management field. For example, the software suites provided by companies like SKULabs offer exceptional solutions for warehouse management. SKULabs offers a robust all-in-one solution for multi-channel picking and multi-channel shipping needs. SKULabs offers highly accurate software focusing on powerful label creation services, item comparison tools, and real-time inventory control.
Fitness Avenue even lauded SKULabs as a “Great warehouse management software!”
SKULabs is available to install on the Shopify and BigCommerce eCommerce platforms and will provide your company with an excellent foundation as you work toward mitigating errors in multi-channel warehouse shipping management. For a more comprehensive list of eCommerce partners, you can review here!