6 Ways to Improve Picking Accuracy

Consumers increasingly rely on e-commerce to meet the demands of their busy lives, expecting accurate orders. While a delayed order can be a setback, an entirely inaccurate one is more than a frustrating inconvenience. A single picking error not only erodes customer trust but also diminishes profitability. Furthermore, picking errors can significantly impact warehouse productivity, resulting in a loss of revenue and profitability. Hence, companies must prioritize order accuracy. Here are six ways to enhance picking accuracy and maintain customer satisfaction.

The Importance of Order Picking Accuracy

In simple terms, the order-picking process involves retrieving items purchased by the customer from inventory and preparing them for shipment. It stands out as one of the most labor-intensive tasks in a warehouse or fulfillment center. Order picking typically constitutes 55% of warehouse operating costs and involves a substantial human touch, leading to the potential for human error. Additionally, the process demands a significant amount of strenuous physical labor, resulting in a slow and potentially hazardous operation. This underscores the importance of consistently enhancing order-picking accuracy and efficiency for the success of a business.

improve order picking accuracy

6 Ways to Improve Picking Accuracy

Analyze Product Velocity

Product velocity refers to the quantity and frequency of the SKU picked over a designated time. Evaluating product velocity ensures that commonly ordered items are strategically located within easy access to picking areas. Some best practices when considering the velocity of a SKU include:

  • Determine fast, medium, and slow movers and slot them accordingly (e.g., place slow movers further from picking areas).
  • Examine and evaluate picking days, averages vs. optimal.
  • Store high-velocity SKUs in a readily accessible location for easy selection and replenishment.
  • Determine if individual SKU velocities are affected by seasons or promotions.

Properly analyzing product velocity allows you to arrange warehouse storage in the most efficient manner, improving picking accuracy and order fulfillment cycle times.

Strategically organizing inventory

Enhancing picking accuracy is significantly influenced by strategically organizing inventory. Warehouses often adopt an organizational approach by creating zones where similar items are grouped together. This method is particularly useful when implementing zone-based and batch-picking methods. Another effective strategy is slotting, which entails strategically placing cases for easy access and replenishment. Regardless of the chosen inventory storage method, organization is crucial to maximizing pickers’ chances of selecting the correct items.

improve order picking accuracy

Establish picking routes

Creating clear picking routes or establishing a streamlined traffic flow within the warehouse allows pickers to fulfill orders seamlessly. This minimizes backtracking through aisles, reducing both costs and time. Overcrowded aisles are also alleviated by the implementation of well-defined picking routes.

Maintain accurate inventory data

The effectiveness of organized picking routes hinges on accurate inventory data. An organized and efficiently routed picker may face challenges if the selected product is misplaced or out of stock. To enhance picking accuracy, it is imperative to maintain a precise foundation of real-time inventory storage, quantities, and locations. The integration of an automated inventory management system can dramatically improve inventory data.

Analyze error data

Continuous improvement relies on tracking and analyzing picking accuracy data. Regularly reviewing this data provides insights into when and where problems occur, offering operational clarity about staff suitability for specific tasks. Additionally, it serves as a tool to incentivize pickers for improved order accuracy. Lastly, systematic or procedural issues become apparent when thoroughly examining error data.

improve order picking accuracy

Use technology

Embracing technology, whether transitioning to a fully automated warehouse system run by robots or adopting incremental technological improvements, can significantly elevate picking accuracy. Numerous proven solutions exist to reduce human error and enhance accuracy. Consider the following technology solutions:

Radio frequency scanning devices

Utilizing lightweight, hand-held scanners for accurate barcode reading confirms the correct product selection. These devices streamline the process by eliminating the need to read labels, improving both speed and accuracy.

Visual logistics

Going beyond traditional barcode or QR code methods, visual logistics incorporates images of the product on the scanner and/or visual bin locations.

Pick to light

PTL is an order-picking technology that uses lights and LEDs on racks or shelves to indicate pick locations, guiding pickers through their tasks. It has proven to increase picking efficiency compared to RF or paper pick lists.

Voice-directed picking

Voice picking, a hands-free and eyes-free system, guides pickers through tasks by providing verbal instructions. This system integrates headsets and advanced speech recognition software with the system of record (WMS, ERP, Inventory System).

Conveyor systems

The sophistication of conveyor systems varies, with sortation conveyors being particularly useful in improving order accuracy. Systems that allow pickers to stay in a single location as items are brought directly to them are also beneficial. The choice of the best conveyor system depends on factors like warehouse size, layout, and product diversity.

Whether you decide to implement one or all six ways to enhance picking accuracy, they embody a crucial element of successful fulfillment. Customers expect to receive the exact product they order. Business owners and warehouse managers acknowledge the importance of picking accuracy in ensuring customer satisfaction, but consistently upholding this standard can pose a challenge. If your business prioritizes picking accuracy but aims to ease the responsibility of maintaining the highest standards, let Falcon Fulfillment assist you. We uphold a 99.9% accuracy rating and are enthusiastic about ensuring that your customers consistently get what they’ve paid for. Contact one of our agents today.

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