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It can feel like no matter what happens, there’s bound to be some mistakes along the way in item processing for any warehouse.

It’s a simple fact of the business—due to human error, computer error, or both, sometimes order errors can start at the beginning of the supply chain during receiving. These errors affect every warehouse differently, but with a little planning and understanding you can get ahead of these issues and make sure your inventory stays as accurate as possible:


What are the two types of receiving errors?

While a lot of things can happen along the path a product takes to get to you safely, most receiving errors can be broken down into two different types.

Vendor errors are exactly what it sounds like—an error in shipping/item quantity made by the vendor before the products were shipped out to your warehouse. These errors typically include mispacks, count discrepancies, and even incorrect items in the box (when compared to what’s on the shipping label).

Internal errors are when the errors occur at the receiving area—generally they were packed correctly and shipped properly, but something happens on your end that causes an item to get missed, double-counted, and the like.

Knowing the difference can help you track down the cause of each receiving error and help you resolve future issues, but how do you know what to do about each one?


Identifying & Resolving Receiving Errors

Understanding these errors and preparing for resolving them can be half the battle, even before you encounter one.

For starters, it’s important to identify the source of the error. If the items were shipped properly and received on time before something went missing or got double-counted, then it may be due to a process issue in your warehouse. Do you cross-dock, and if so could the item have gone missing between its destinations? Did it simply get miscounted due to a misfiring barcode scanner, and if so was it human error or a tool that needs replacement? Did you receive the item in the first place?


However, if the item was mis-sent by the vendor, then you can still be proactive in handling these errors before they can affect your inventory. In most cases, warehouses choose to accept in any overages or shortages, correcting their on-hand levels as needed, and then reporting the errors back to the vendor. The only downside with this is that you may need to adjust your inventory levels depending on what the vendor needs to be done with the excess items, but promptly contacting the vendor and reporting the shipping errors will go a long way towards helping resolve the issues.

If you do accept in the new inventory, you may need to rebarcode and reshelve them, but this could cause confusion down the road. What many warehouses do is set aside some storage space, such as on pallet racks or warehouse shelving, to safely store these items until they know what to do with them. It will help keep them out of the general inventory areas and hopefully prevent further miscounts or inventory adjustments down the road.

And above all else, don’t panic. Product receiving errors are a natural side effect of the item-handling process, and by having a plan in place that your workers know to follow in the event of an inventory error, you can make sure they don’t spiral out of control to become bigger problems later.

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