Many of the wholesale distributors we meet who are engaging in a wholesale distribution software selection process have a common set of issues. In general, they are printing pick tickets on paper, handing the print ticket to the next available picker, and telling the picker to go forth and pick. In doing so, the picker takes the paper pick ticket around the warehouse and writes on the paper to show what has or has not been picked. Some time later, after the picking process is done – most likely a shift or full day later after the picking has been completed – the paper pick ticket with the picker’s hand-written notes ends up in the possession of an administrator who enters the pick data into the distributor’s existing computer system.
Since there most likely is a substantial time delay between the picking and manual data entry processes, coupled with the fact that the picker’s chicken-scratched notes may be highly illegible, there will likely be errors introduced into the inventory data. In cases in which the administrator can’t understand what the picker was attempting to convey, the administrator may have a discussion with that picker about their notes. Again, depending on the time delay between the picking and writing on the pick ticket through this conversation with the administrator attempting to enter the data, inventory accuracy issues can get introduced due to time delays and the possibility that the picker may not even remember what their notes meant.
Even if the manual pick, writing on paper, and manual data entry processes were 100% accurate, they would nonetheless be untimely and inefficient, as there would always be some delay between the time picking was completed and the time data was entered into the system.
Alternatively, for companies using strong wholesale distribution software systems that come with fully-integrated warehouse management functionality like Enterprise 21, when barcodes and scanning are introduced into the process, the system would know the disposition of the picking process immediately at the time a picker was performing those operations. Furthermore, since the scanning process can also confirm that the item that was intended to be picked was in fact picked correctly, inventory accuracy and customer shipment accuracy will increase. This should lead to a reduction in the number of customer returns due to mis-shipment of items on an order and an increase in customer satisfaction.
Without accurate and timely inventory data, the ability to leverage that information to have the correct product mix while reducing the wholesale distributor’s overall inventory position are an impossibility. Companies using Enterprise 21 can achieve these benefits through the introduction of barcodes and scanning throughout the warehouse including the picking process without having to acquire any additional application software.