Warehouse Customer Satisfaction

How to guarantee right first time order shipments

Improved customer satisfaction is one of the most important benefits of implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) solution in your warehousing operations.

Improved customer satisfaction is one of the most important benefits of implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) solution in your warehousing operations. Too often management’s emphasis is just on improving productivity and efficiency among the warehouse operatives who are picking and packing. This is critical for success, but so too is keeping the customer happy. And the best way to do this is to make sure that goods ordered do actually arrive, on time and in full. This is known as ‘OTIF’ and it has become a standard metric for measuring warehouse performance.


Regardless of industry sector, whether a warehouse is dealing with end user customers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), companies often report that issues they would have experienced relating to missing orders greatly diminished once they had implemented a WMS. For example, one Indigo Software customer, a well known manufacturer and distributor of garden and leisure equipment, reported a significant reduction in the number of customers who had been ‘getting in touch and saying that they hadn’t received parts or their goods’. This company provides a huge array of spare parts to its customers as part of an after sales care service and previously experienced a lot of issues with items not arriving. Due to a lack of a WMS, they could not fully confirm what had been shipped and when. It meant they had no option but to resend whatever had been ordered. Apart from satisfaction levels among customers being adversely affected, this situation also meant they were losing money. Constantly sending out replacement parts is costly – there’s the cost of the items, the labour costs to process the order and the shipping costs to factor in, plus the implications for customer goodwill. After introducing a WMS, these customer issues dropped significantly.


We all understand that manual warehouse systems are rife with problems. This is not just due to the inefficiencies created, but manual processes and paperwork both introduce a greater potential for shrinkage. For example, if paperwork is missing, or if there is a lack of reconciliation with goods receipt processes, stock transfers and shipment processing, it means a company could be left very exposed – to fraud and theft as well as genuine mistakes.


Integrating a WMS with your main ERP software makes it far easier to track exactly what has been dispatched from the warehouse and to whom. Plus, when taking into consideration having to hold hundreds of SKUs in spare parts, as was the case for this company, using software to manage the warehouse means it will be properly organised. All inventory parts will be stored in the correct locations and all available space will be used to maximum efficiency. Research shows that when a WMS is installed, space utilisation levels can increase by up to 30% in a typical warehouse.


In another project for a manufacturing customer, Indigo Software needed to integrate a new WMS with a weigh scale to create an instant validation check. This provided an accurate way of ensuring that finished products were always being shipped completely intact, with no missing elements. Having this quality check in place meant that the company could always verify the correct items were being sent, based on the individual weight of each product. At shop floor level, the factory knew for a fact that a fully equipped piece of equipment would be going out the door and each shipment stage was fully documented throughout the whole process.


In this instance, Indigo Software was able to achieve this integration by modifying the standard pick process within the WMS software. It would allow users to issue commands to weigh scales which would instigate measurement functions and then receive the returned weigh values. The weight value for each pick was then validated against the actual item weight, which was already stored within their ERP system. Provided the weights recorded fell within a pre-agreed tolerance level, the picker was able to proceed with the order. In the event of a discrepancy, controls were put in place to invalidate the pick and prevent dispatch until the issue was resolved. Clever eh!


This solution devised by Indigo Software in partnership with the customer was designed to prevent the occurrence of customer issues about not receiving parts that should be included with the actual product. It meant that customer orders would always be fulfilled as OTIF. It also reduced the burden on the customer services team, which is responsible for processing complaints and shipping replacement parts, along with the associated costs.


Being able to achieve OTIF and maximise customer satisfaction will always translate into better customer retention levels. Customers are more loyal if their orders are always delivered accurately and on time. Plus, if customers know that you’ve got measurement systems in place, there tend to be fewer complaints and queries being made in the first place. We know this because our customers have told us.


If your company wants to guarantee customer satisfaction and meet service level agreements, using a WMS is an excellent way to ensure this is achieved. It’s the best way to build automatic quality checks into your dispatching process, and you will see a whole host of other benefits too.


About the author

Jacky Farrington is Global Customer Success Manager at Indigo Software. She works closely with all our software users, to ensure they get maximum value from their investment in a WMS solution.

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