Are you a human? Have you ever had a job? If you answered yes to these questions, which we hope you did, then chances are you know that mistakes happen! Especially in the workplace.
However, it doesn’t mean errors are unavoidable or can’t be fixed. We’ve come up with a few very common errors in the inventory management system and the steps you can take to prevent them!
We make mistakes; we’re human! But human error could end up costing a lot of money if inventory is messed up because of a wrong input or manual mistype. Manual processes may seem like they work best for your business, but to avoid human error, a lot of steps must be taken.
First, you should double or triple check everything. Just because other systems in place are automated doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for errors. If the initial information is entered wrong at the beginning, it will go through the entire system without ever being caught.
Some ways you can try to prevent these errors include consistent, ongoing education, implementing quality control steps, and automating anything you can. If there is an automated way to do data entry at any point along the workflow—do it! Even if you still have people scanning barcodes or checking for accuracy, automating can help alleviate a lot of potential human errors. Have a team that checks off before anything is finalized so they can ensure the right numbers and data are going through, and the correctly picked items match the original order.
Not Analyzing Your Data
If you are using integrated inventory management systems, you should continuously be pulling and tracking data points every step of the way. This data is like a gift to you and can genuinely help you improve your business, but only if you utilize it to the fullest.
If you are not pulling and analyzing data weekly, you may be missing out on where errors—or successes—are happening in your workflow. Data can help with inventory planning as you track consistent ordering, find out which SKUs go out of stock frequently, and you can adjust purchase orders and pricing accordingly.
Failing to Plan for Holiday Spikes in Volume
Christmas, Independence Day, and Memorial Day are just a few of the major holidays throughout the year that can bring a spike in volume. On these dates, eCommerce companies expect high volume sales, especially if they are offering exclusive holiday deals.
Even if there is not a big sale or discount happening, companies and warehouses can expect extra shopping during these times and using data be able to plan ahead for volume spikes. The last thing you want to do is to understock products or even overstock. Data and market trends can help with that planning and ensure a solid strategy is in place long before these times occur.
Not Counting Your Inventory Frequently
Even if your warehouse operations have fully utilized automation in their process, it’s still always a good idea to do a quarterly inventory count by hand, if possible.
Some warehouses will make a day of it with a breakfast or lunch provided, or other incentives to get all hands on deck counting through inventory in the warehouse. Numbers can be off even in the most seamless processes.
Plus, a company-wide inventory count can be a good reset to every quarter by being able to have a manually counted number and comparing it to what the systems say, to prove their accuracy (or not). This kind of quality control can help alleviate any slow-moving inventory, and it can ensure returned SKUs were put back into their proper places. It can find gaps in the picking and packing process that maybe aren’t seen during the actual workflow. Of course, this may not be possible for every warehouse, but if you can, it can do wonders for process improvement and inventory management.
Mispicks and Misships
When an order comes through, a pick-slip will accompany it and tell the warehouse crew what items to pick and pack. Things can get mis-picked when a pick-slip is read wrong, or a SKU is put in the wrong place in the warehouse.
Now some mispicks or misships may happen because the wrong information was entered initially, and those can be hard to catch. However, ensuring your team is trained to always check the slip, the computer, and the SKU they are picking can help to catch errors before they end up in the hands of a customer.
Misships occur when addresses are entered incorrectly, which is highly possible by both customers and if you have a manual entry in place. Within your warehouse management system, code can be put in place to flag addresses or zip code mismatches. This can ensure no bad or incorrect addresses are put in, which can, in turn, help with returned packages and unsatisfied customers.
Having a Disorganized Warehouse
A disorganized warehouse can lead to mispicks, lost inventory, miscounts, and unsafe conditions. Instilling best practices early on in warehouse organization can help solve a multitude of potential problems.
By implementing best practices, warehouse employees can work faster, more efficiently, and be able to confirm their pick slips easier. They will also be safer without unsecure structures, messy isles, and bumping into each other due to disorganized picking and packing.
Ensure you have stations for picking, packing, shipping, and receiving returns that make sense and support the workflow, not go against it.
To reiterate, inventory errors can still happen, but it’s important to take all the precautions to not only prevent them but use those mistakes as opportunities to fix processes. For the most part, making a small inventory error can be easily rectified and fixed. It’s important, though, to keep processes secure, so your business doesn’t lose money or a good reputation due to avoidable mistakes.
At Scout, we’ve made sure to secure our processes by using the best technologies and integrations out there to provide examples of inventory management strategies across the board. If you find yourself seeing errors with no resolution, contact us here and let us help you get back on track.