Your warehouse receiving operations has a direct impact on the integrity of your inventory system, whose main goal is to ensure the availability of products for customers, which is no secret.

Without an effective receiving system, items fall through the cracks, are not counted, do not receive proper inspection and ultimately fail to provide evidence of problems with vendors that affect profitability. However, imagine this with me: a day in the yard where carrier/supplier trucks are showing up on time, they don’t have to waste time in the yard waiting for instructions, the receiving team starts unloading and they don’t run into any issues with any of the pallets prepared for your shipments. This might sound too good to be true, but it is a goal that almost all operations should be striving for. This article is aimed at highlighting at a general level some of the key areas to consider investing your time in to enable a smooth receiving operation:

1) Vendor Compliance Policy:

It goes without saying that having a well-documented vendor policy is a hard pre-requisite for a smooth receiving process. I’ve seen a few situations where customers simply requested via e-mail or phone calls how they would like certain shipments to be loaded and these “requests” were very inconsistent. Having a well-documented (not necessarily heavy) process would primarily help maintain a certain efficiency standard on your docks. It will also help your vendors plan their shipping process as well as giving them a clear methodology to measure how well they’re doing (more on that to come in future posts). Here’s an example of a requirement that can be found in your vendor compliance policy:

  • Scannable UPC barcodes are mandatory for {Your company name} distribution centers:

Clearly printed with no faded lines or numbers.

Easily accessible without obstruction on a flat surface.

Easily read by barcode scanners at our Distribution Centers.

Matches the sellable unit. 

What you’ll need to implement next is a transparent process between your company and the vendor that opens up communication and reduces the time to resolve any compliance issues found by the receivers. For example, let’s say one of the compliance issues you look for is “Incorrect TiHi” and that’s because it causes lumping work. Then, if your receivers found an issue with one of the pallets, what we want to happen is for them to take a picture of the infraction , which after being approved by a supervisor will be made available at the Vendor portal, associated with the PO and the correct code. This will give the vendor a chance to contest or simply be made aware of the issues identified. With integration to the ERP, you can automate the AP side of this process to allow finance to apply credits before invoices are paid.

2) Appointment Scheduling:

If you’re managing this communication and entire process manually, please do me a favor and look at the many appointment scheduling software vendors out there, some of which even provide you free access for a trial period. Make sure you do your ROI calculations before investing in one, and set a baseline to continuously measure performance. Some key metrics that can help you get started are:

On Time compliance.

Load Condition & Safety compliance.

Delivery compliance (shipment documentation and labeling).

Appointment Compliance rate.

3) Reporting:

You would definitely benefit a lot from the ability to report, provide visibility to your vendors and a benchmark on their performance and also rank them so they know how they are performing in their tier. For example:

Tier 1 (includes vendors that had over 1000 appointments a year)

Tier 2 (includes vendors that had between 500 to 999 appointments a year)


Within each tier, vendors are ranked on the following categories – On Time, Load Condition & Safety, and Delivery compliance (Your can insert your own criteria)

There’s definitely a lot more to say about this topic which i’ll probably write about in later articles.

4) Yard Management:

WMS has improved operations after a shipment has been unloaded and TMS has done the same prior to shipment arrival. Well, somewhere in the middle is where your Yard management process will live. It’s the process by which your team can handle inbound and outbound vehicles and trucks, personnel, shipments, pallets and everything moving in the yard to your docks. Having the right balance of inbound and outbound freight relies on effective yard management. In other words, radios and clipboards will not do the trick.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope this brings some value to your operations.