After speaking to several NetSuite customers about their main goal in the warehouse, it’s almost unanimous: Higher customer satisfaction. In every case, this leads right into inventory accuracy. You want to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible to ensure happy customers. So what is inventory accuracy?
Inventory Accuracy is simply “Trusting that your inventory is on-hand when you need it, with the right quantity and in the right location.”
But why does this simple idea plague so many organizations worldwide? From our experience with over 500 NetSuite customers, it’s near impossible to operate accurately in a warehouse when manual or paper processes are in place. Paper-driven processes leave room for human error and serve as one of the main obstacles to an improved accuracy rate.
Steps for improving inventory accuracy
- If you're currently working with manual processes, your first strategy to improve accuracy is to minimize the amount of times you touch a product. The more you touch a product, the more likely it could be misplaced or entered into NetSuite incorrectly. To avoid this, eliminate unnecessary moves in your warehouse.
For example, if you're using overstock bins, you're moving your product 3 times - from receiving, to the overstock bin, to the picking bin. Using an overstock bin isn't wrong, but any time you move your product, you need to let NetSuite know what you've done. Paper processes create a gap of where the product actually is and what is recorded in NetSuite. If you've moved it from the overstock bin to the picking bin but haven't updated NetSuite, your picker can't find it, or worse - picks the wrong thing instead.
- Another key step is to make sure the description on the product and the pick slip match. Think through things like color, size and the physical description. Often times, your workers can't see what is in the box and grab items simply by what they see on the shelf. Taking the time to ensure these match can make the difference in a happy customer.
- Implementing barcodes in your warehouse is the next step. You should put barcodes on both your products and the bins where you'll be stocking it. Better than a description, your picker is now looking for the barcode number that matches his pick slip. He can identify the location (bin barcode) and product and ensure they match.
Most NetSuite customers work with retail products that already have UPC codes on them. In this case, you do not need a unique barcode. The UPC can be cross referenced in NetSuite, and the UPC code is now your identifier.
- Once you have barcodes in place, the last strategy is to put those to work for you with an Inventory Management solution. This leverages barcode scanners to prompt users through warehouse transactions - from receiving, to counting, to picking and shipping. If you select a solution that is built for NetSuite, this information is updated in NetSuite in real-time. You'll know what products you have in your warehouse, where they are, who put them there and when (and even how long it took to do it).
Adding Inventory Management Solution
3 ways an Inventory Management solution can increase accuracy:
1. Eliminates the pesky time element. By scanning and updating NetSuite at each step, you are eliminating the gap of NetSuite being out of sync with the warehouse. When your picker goes to fulfill an order, he'll know it's been moved from the overstock bin to the picking bin.
2. Verifies you are handling the correct product. Your system will prompt you to scan the barcode and then verify that matches what is in the system. You can ensure you are shipping the right item out to another happy customer.
3. Know what you have and where. With an inventory solution, you've scanned everything that is received or moved in your warehouse. You can tell your customer you have it and have confidence that you. in fact, do. If you are an Amazon supplier, this is critical.
Lessons from a NetSuite customer
Many companies pride themselves on customer service and continually aim to improve. WrestlingMart was one of those. Prior to RF-SMART, this retail team was struggling to count and receive their vast inventory and was trying to find a better way to correct the errors with their manual data entry.
"We are now error-free. The approval process within RF-SMART brings accountability to who’s completing the work and ensures they are correct.” Along with receiving inventory correctly, cycle counts have improved. “We love the checks and balances in the cycle count procedure."
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