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You might be a bad warehouse if… You use "Post-It Notes" for your product labeling

By Kate Vitasek | 08/31/2009 | 12:20 PM

When it comes to warehousing 101, everyone (we hope) knows the importance of properly labeling your products so you can identify them. For our inaugural blog, this is one bad warehousing practice we just could not resist starting with, and it highlights a warehouse that thought it was perfectly OK to use "Post-It" style sticky notes as the primary way to label product in their warehouse.

A colleague and I saw this at a 3PL that distributed marketing and promotional items for multiple Fortune 500 companies. In the photos below you can see an example of this bad practice in action.

Post it Notes

Of course being the curious and quality minded people we are, we couldn't resist asking what happened when the sticky notes fell off. Their proud answer - "Ah... it happens quite frequently so we have a physical copy of most SKUs in the buyer's office and we keep a digital picture image of every item in our warehouse. This way we can fairly quickly research and create a new sticky note."

So what is the proper way to label your products? We recommend at minimum having a recognized vendor product ID (commodities) or your own SKU (custom goods) printed or molded/cast on the product, and printed on the case and pallet.

One other tip... get your suppliers to label their products for your specific requirements  - some retailers require labels or tags with their SKU and pricing information. The Warehousing Education and Research Council recognizes the best practice is to have all incoming product labeled by the supplier using agreed upon specifications and some form of scan read code, barcode or RFID if that is your requirement. This supplier applied label should then be automatically verifies against your PO or ASN (Advance Shipping Notice) at receiving.

 For those wanting to learn more about labeling we recommend the following resources:

Read the section on Receiving & Inspection Warehouse Processes in the WERC "Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide" available from the WERC Online Store.

For a quick read, download "Ready, Willing, Label" from the June 2006 Issue of Multichannel Merchant.

Of course I am sure that your local labeling or scanning product distributor will be more than willing to educate you if you sit through a sales pitch. A couple of the more well known vendors are Zebra and Symbol (Motorola).

I'd love your feedback- and would love your help in sharing more bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession of what NOT to do. If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected]. If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide ($160 value). Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free warehous assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference ($1,375 value).

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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