Global eCommerce sales are expected to hit over $3.5 trillion this year.1 Yet, over 30% of products bought online are expected to be returned.2 A recent survey revealed that more than 15% of returns are the result of claims of “damaged, broken, or no longer functional” goods.3 There are many reasons an order verification system can be beneficial to your company, but inventory control and security to ensure goods are shipped undamaged must rank as reason number one.
Reason #1: Provides Inventory Control and Security
An order verification system takes photographs of products for an order at specific locations as it travels along your material handling line. By implementing an order verification system, you will not only be able to track, with photographic evidence, an order’s journey through your distribution center, you will have documented proof that the item was in good repair when it left your shipping area. This will help keep all parties involved honest and simplify dispute resolutions.
The photographs can also be used to show what was included in a package. A cellphone supplier, for example, can capture the phone being put into a box, followed by the handsfree headset, then the instruction manual and finally the SIM card. Each one of those items is photographed as the order is travelling along. The pictures can be used as an extra step in the verification process of your inventory and to pinpoint the exact location of an order at any time. An order tracking system also adds an extra layer of security to your loss prevention efforts in your distribution center, by deterring fraudulent order fulfillment activity.
Reason #2: Delivers Start-to-Finish Order Tracking
Order tracking used to mean that a customer would get an email notifying them when their order had been shipped from the warehouse. They would be given an estimated delivery time/date and occasionally an en-route update. Now, with an order verification system, the customer is reassured that their order is being tracked in the distribution center at every step, all the way to the moment it arrives at their front door.
In addition to reassuring customers, an order verification system can also be used to increase customer engagement. Instead of just sending customers an email with their tracking number and the odd update, you can send them a link to your CRM system where their order process is being recorded. There they can observe, in real-time, their order being assembled on a point-to-point basis every time it is scanned. For example, they can watch as their phone is being packed into a box, along with the accessories, and follow it all the way to the loading dock. From there they can use their courier tracking number to follow their package on its final leg to their door. Now that’s peace of mind – and fun.
Reason #3: Improves End-to-End Inventory Visibility
Tracking your inventory, from the moment it enters your distribution center to the moment it leaves your shipping area, is extremely important for inventory control. A good order verification system will be able to account for and pinpoint every tracked item within your material handling facility. This is critical, because any item in a box or tote that is being conveyed within your distribution center is still an asset to your company. It is not until it actually ships that it becomes an order and therefore a receivable.
Traditional verification systems sometimes encounter problems identifying an item, such as when a barcode is obscured, or the product is only partially visible. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), modern order verification systems can still identify the product by using a variety of different sensors and other technological capabilities. This ensures order accuracy control and delivers a complete overview of your inventory at any point in time, no matter what the visibility conditions are.
Reason #4: Eliminates Throughput Bottlenecks
In our experience, top companies have an order/pick accuracy of around 99%. But they still send a certain portion of their orders to a quality assurance (QA) station to be 100% sure that orders are being picked correctly. QA stations are labor intensive and prone to human error and delays. An order verification system eliminates bottlenecks during quality checks because orders don’t have to be pulled off the conveyor for spot checks. The entire product evaluation is photographed and digitally captured, speeding up the process and ensuring greater accuracy.
Throughput delays can also occur in different areas of your distribution center. For example, in the packing zone, order fulfillment can be interrupted as a result of inventory shrinkage due to breakage or theft. By having photographs of all the critical phases of the packing process, problems like this can be identified and addressed quickly and efficiently.
Verifying that an order is accurate, complete and has been shipped to the correct customer using barcodes alone, is often just not good enough. With PSI’s Order Verification System you can monitor your order fulfillment process from start to finish, with photographic evidence along the way, and make real-time adjustments before the order leaves your shipping area. This will help you identify inaccuracies, reduce return rates, improve customer satisfaction and drive profitability.
For more information on PSI’s Order Verification System click here.
1. eMarketer, Global eCommerce 2019, eCommerce Continues Strong Gains, June 2019
2. Shopify, The Plague of eCommerce Return Rates and How to Maintain Profitability, February 2019
3. Narvar, Consumer Report 2019, The State of Online Returns: A Global Study, September 2019