“Dock-to-stock” is the battle cry of every receiving department. Every fulfillment business regardless of size faces the same pressure to meet daily service levels.

The most critical element of efficient and accurate receiving is validating that the vendor has shipped the correct item and quantity based on purchase order requirements. Deviations from the purchase order create inaccurate inventory counts and delayed customer service.

Dock-to-stock turnaround time in best-of-class companies is two hours to receive, check in and put away product. Most ecommerce merchants should set a goal to clear the dock and staging areas in the same shift. This assumes limited quality assurance tasks which may require things like fabric inspection and measurements. However, the QA should be completed with 24 hours.

Here are 11 ways you can improve your dock-to-stock performance:

Adopt Vendor Compliance Policies

These policies typically address:

  • Agreed technology formats: Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASN), barcode and EDI.
  • Designated freight carriers: Do not leave carrier selection up to the vendor. They have little concern about cost or service and might be making a profit on shipping.
  • Packaging specifications includes outer box specs to protect from damage or act as a ship-alone container.
  • External carton labeling including purchase order number, SKU number and description, your company name and address, number of cartons identified as 1 of X, 2 of X, etc.
  • A product specification sheet for quality assurance.
  • Procedures and practices for quantity variances, damages and any other specifications when not met; may include chargeback policies.
  • Return to vendor procedures.

Even the smallest merchant should consider vendor compliance policies such as inbound freight routing. Inbound freight is a considerable expense – every dollar saved using your carrier is profit.

Adopt ASNs: They are used to notify a…