Did your drive just wrap up? Are you expecting a large order to arrive? A small order with just a few items is pretty easy to open and verify its contents, but when it comes to large deliveries, it can be a challenge to unpack and locate everything you’ve purchased. These tips are geared towards deliveries with at least 1-2 pallets of supplies, although some of these suggestions can apply to even smaller deliveries.
Below are a few tips and tricks for streamlining the receiving process:
- First and foremost, when the shipment arrives, take pictures of the pallets or boxes as soon as they come off the truck. Make sure the entirety of all the boxes can be clearly seen, and if there are any damaged areas, be sure to take close up shots. These pictures may be important later for assessing any damage or the evaluating the cause of missing boxes.
- Before you start dismantling the boxes and/or pallets, locate the packing slip.
- The packing slip is a sheet of paper has a count of everything that’s included in your delivery. Simply put, it’s what the vendor believes they sent you. Note that it is NOT the same thing as the Bill of Lading (BOL), which is a record of the shipping arrangement between the vendor and the shipping company – it does not contain a detailed list of the packing contents. The BOL typically contains the shipping from and to addresses, carrier information, and the weight of the contents.
- Most vendors provide packing slips, but some do not. If a packing slip is not available, make sure you have an itemized list of what’s in the delivery BEFORE you start opening up the pallets and boxes. If your drive was run on Roonga, you can pull an itemized list of the purchases by logging into Roonga, clicking on your drive, and hovering over the “Reports” option near the top in the grey management bar.
- Read the packing slip carefully – the list of contents may not be in individual units. They may be a list of the number of cases (or boxes). The exact format and contents vary depending on the vendor.
- Clearly identify an area for the unpacking. Once you start unpacking the shipment, it can be hard to keep track of where everything is.
- Make sure the supplies stay in a designated area during the initial inventory process so they don’t accidentally “walk” away before being accounted for.
- Organize your area in a logical manner so supplies can placed in the appropriate place once the pallet is being dismantled. For example, you many want to have a section for notebooks and paper products and another section for pencils, pencil sharpeners, and erasers. Keep in mind supplies can be split between pallets, so the organization scheme will help ensure that the same types of supplies are reunited.
- Cross reference the packing slip against what you’re expecting, and conduct a quick sanity check to verify that all the boxes look accounted for. Different vendors label boxes slightly differently – every box may be labeled, or the vendor may have left the original boxes labeled as they were from the manufacturer. Make sure you take a look at the boxes and identify the labeling scheme. Not all sides of the box may be labeled, so turn some of the boxes all the way around to see what the vendor has done. Again, have the list of expected items and quantities with you to double check.
- Some vendors allow purchases that don’t align with case quantities. If you have such an order, the odds and ends (non-case quantities) may be packaged separately from the cases. They may be labeled as “repack” boxes or annotated in a similar way. Pull these repack boxes out first, so you can find these loose supplies after the rest of the cases are separated out.
- Vendors are people, and people can make mistakes. On occasion, vendors do swap or miss items by accident. Or, items may be damaged during the shipping process.
- If there are issues, notify your vendor soon as possible to get them resolved.
- Make sure you’re aware of your vendor’s return window and policies. Damaged or missing items are typically replaced free of charge, but items that need to be exchanged or returned are subject to their return policies. Most vendors have a standard period for allowing exchanges or returns, and you may be subject to a restocking fee or other constraints.
- It is best to complete your entire review and provide a consolidated list of issues at one time. It can take a while to get through all the items delivered, so jot down your notes as you go. Sometimes you may find that one item was packed with something else, so what you thought was missing may not be missing after all.
One thing we should note is that the initial inventory can take quite some time – if you didn’t this year, make sure you build time into your schedule next year to review your shipments upon arrival. Ultimately, taking the time to review the order up front will help ensure that your distribution will run smoothly.
We hope these tips help streamline the process for receiving deliveries. Feel free to send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional suggestions for helping to make deliveries a success.