Warehouse Management

How To Prevent Picking Errors In A Warehouse

Avoid Pick Pack Mistakes

Picking and packing is a crucial step in the order fulfillment process. Unfortunately, it is prone to a number of potential picking errors that can cost an ecommerce business time, money and, if left unresolved, its reputation.


It is estimated that over 35% of fulfillment operations are experiencing a picking rate of above 1%, which can have a drastic impact on costs considering a single packing error can reduce profitability of an order by as much as 13%. This means that there is a need for businesses to implement best practices and utilise technology, whether that’s to reduce an ongoing high percentage of warehouse picking errors or to ensure that they do not experience an increase in errors as the business enjoys a period of rapid growth.


Fortunately, we have identified a number of ways to reduce and prevent warehouse picking errors that ecommerce businesses should explore to increase productivity and profitability. In this article, we take you through some of the proven ways of reducing errors and making your fulfillment process more efficient. 


Technology to reduce picking errors


Modern warehouses are incorporating technology and automation into their fulfillment processes, not only to improve profitability and productivity, but also to overcome issues that arise in the warehouse including picking errors. Some ways in which they are doing this include:


Collaborative mobile robots


This technology helps improve pick rates by avoiding unnecessary walking by warehouse operatives. Tired staff will inevitably lead to more mistakes, therefore keeping human labour rested and alert is crucial in keeping warehouse picking errors down. 


This works by leading operatives to picking locations via the fastest route and displays essential order information such as items and quantities to pick. By reducing the physical and mental strain on warehouse associates, they can focus on completing important tasks effectively. 

Pick-to-light and put-to-light


Pick-to-light and put-to-light technology is a good way of increasing the speed and accuracy of warehouse picking. It works by having LED lights installed on racks and shelves that house your stock. 


Pickers then use barcode scanners to scan the shipping carton for all items in the single order, after which the LEDs for items listed in the order glow. Operatives then simply follow the lights to pick the listed items in the order. 


Warehouse management software


Warehouse management software (WMS) is the go-to solution for ecommerce retailers looking to streamline their order fulfillment process and avoid unnecessary costs such as picking errors. 


By making sure that inventory information is accurate and that stock is located and stored as efficiently as possible, warehouse operatives are under less pressure and make fewer mistakes in the picking process. You can learn more about how WMS can help businesses achieve fulfilment efficiency in our warehouse management systems guide.


Frequently review storage strategies 


It is prudent to frequently review and implement warehouse management best practices to help reduce picking errors. These include:


  • Relocating fast-moving items to more easily accessible locations
  • Storing frequently picked items near packing and shipping areas
  • Ensuring all items are in proper slots/locations and labelled correctly
  • Storing different items/parts in separate storage bins (items stored together in a single bin can lead to picking errors)


Whilst it may seem a good idea to store the same SKU in multiple picking locations, there is a risk that operatives may need to pick the same item from multiple storage locations if there is not enough inventory in the first location, leading to errors and inefficiency. 


Ensure all items are properly identified and labelled


Correct identification and labelling of items is a big factor in reducing the likelihood of picking mistakes. A mobile barcode scanning system gives operatives the ability to scan items into locations, using optimally placed signs, aisle markers and shelf labels to help staff easily identify storage locations. All different package sizes should have a unique SKU and distinctive labelling. 


Conduct regular inventory checks


Regular inventory checks will help warehouse staff flag errors such as items stored incorrectly or in wrong locations before they lead to picking errors. Mistakes during replenishment or stock putaway is one of the biggest causes of picking errors during the fulfillment process. 


Not only do inventory checks help identify problems and opportunities for improving order fulfillment and stock replenishment, they are also essential for keeping stock levels up to date, ensuring that you don’t run out of stock on fast-moving products or over-order slow-moving products. 


Implement an ID system to identify problems and track errors


Warehouse operatives and most likely to make errors when they are fatigued, negligent, disengaged, or experiencing emotional, physical and mental stress. To ensure accountability, assigning a unique ID to warehouse operatives will allow businesses to identify where errors are occurring and be able to take steps to resolve this quickly. 


Without accountability, it makes it hard to assess the efficiency of individual team members and identify staff that could benefit from more training. Such ID systems are also useful for warehouse managers to know who is responsible for what, making it easier to track the progress of any particular order. 


Reduce picking errors in your warehouse with Minsoft


Picking errors in the warehouse can wreak havoc on the profitability of an otherwise efficient order fulfillment operation. Since it is one of the last pieces in the supply chain, errors left undetected will have a tangible impact on customer satisfaction and disrupt revenue streams.  


If you are a B2B, B2C, wholesaler or ecommerce store and you are fulfilling orders from a warehouse, there is the chance picking errors may impact your profitability and prevent you from forming a loyal customer base. 


Investing in warehouse management software will make sure the right product is at the right place at the right time, with the least amount of friction.


Mintsoft’s warehouse management software allows you to track inventory levels, increase pick and pack speed and accuracy, as well as monitor shipments. It also lets you create reports that inform you of further ways to improve, saving you time and money. 


Book a demo to find out more about how Mintsoft can support your business today.