Order Fulfillment starts with Receiving
Almost every company that products a good that can be sold and shipped to a consumer is working to reduce the time it takes to get an order to a customer’s home or to its stores. It's fair to say that the bar has been raised and has put pressure on retailers as well as industrial distributors to rev up their cycle times for faster fulfillment times compared to their competitors.
Knowing what you're going to receive and when is crucial to achieving an optimized receiving department. Often times when busy, lack of communication happens and shipments either bring too little or too much inventory. If a warehouse doesn't communicate how much shipment to receive, and ends up receiving 50% more than expected, this not only requires more staff on hand to unload the goods, but it's also took twice as long to receive the actual shipment. On the other hand, sometimes a warehouse receive less than expected and this too, can create unnecessary chaos. Receiving less than expected could increase costs due to over-staffing. Keep in mind its very hard and not always possible to expect and receive 100% correct, however by communicating often and closely with suppliers, shipping carriers and your team members, you can greatly decrease receiving costs and turnaround times.
Instituting the workflow can lead to increase speed, efficiency and hopefully reduced costs. To maintain a momentum and standardize the workflow there are things to keep in mind and ensure each station has what it needs to be the more effective. Make sure your flow makes sense and is there an area set up to allow for the flow to work properly? Are there adequate supplies at all stations easily accessible to each worker? Having a decluttered area can also speed up the process and create less confusion. When a shipment arrives at the dock, making sure SKU'S are labeled properly and in order and not combined with others can drastically save you time during the unloading and organizing process.
Its important to keep in mind and keep receiving times constant with per unit costs. As a customer, I might only think about the pick, pack and shipping costs, and totally ignore receiving costs. As a business owner, paying employees, this costs is more important to keep in mind.