Warehouse outsourcing is all the rage these days, and if you’ve started to rent out part of your warehouse to use as third-party storage, you’re probably dealing with a lot more items than you’re used to.

The receiving process as an outsourced warehouse isn’t too vastly different from receiving products shipped directly from a vendor, but there may be some wrinkles along the way that need to be watched out for. As a major step in the fulfillment process and a potential source of miscounts or mispicks, making sure your goods are properly received and brought into the warehouse can help make the outsourcing process go much more smoothly as time goes by.

The steps involved in receiving outsourced goods can involve various processes, including:

 

Understanding how product is sent to the warehouse: Are you receiving long containers from overseas, or individual standard-sized pallets? Are your containers ‘floor-loaded’ (loaded from the bottom up without the use of pallets) or is everything in there already palletized, saving you a few steps on the way to your pallet racks?

 

Properly identifying each item: As your vendors aren’t directly responsible for outsourced goods in the same way your warehouse would need to track internal items, product identification can be a trickier process when dealing with third-party outsourcing. Before your shipments begin to roll in, find out how your outsourcing partners tag each of their cartons and/or their individual items (with barcodes, RFID smart labels, or even just standard tags with a SKU) and make sure your warehouse is ready to receive and track them.

 

Correct processing of each item: After the items arrive, you’ll need to make sure each of them are handled and brought into the warehouse in a way befitting your outsourcing clients’ needs. If any of your products come in without the proper labeling on the cartons, make sure to add the appropriate RFID tag or barcode to the item before sending them on their way. (Adding these tags to your shelf labels can save a lot of time down the road, as well.)

 

Counting items before shelving: Especially with outsourced products from a vendor you haven’t worked with in the past, you’ll want to double-check each item before it gets unpacked and stored to avoid problems down the road. Set up a workstation near your receiving area as a designated spot to double-check each item’s intended quantity before it finds its final home.

 

Determine where everything should be stored: Finally, after it’s all been accounted for (or adjusted in cases of shrink or overage), you’ll need to find the right place in your warehouse storage to keep it all. If most of your goods are bulk stock that will be accessed at a later date, as is the case for a lot of outsourced goods, you should consider keeping them on pallet racks, bulk storage racks, or stacked on the floor away from the standard picking areas. Items that will need to be accessed more frequently should be kept on metal shelves in an easily-accessible common area to help speed up the picking process en route to their final destination. Keeping your shipments timely and accurate is crucial towards helping keep your clients happy and your records accurate, and easy access to inventory is a big part of this.

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