4 Things to Include in Your Container Receiving Checklist

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When it comes to inbound inventory, your business needs a clear set of rules and protocol to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency, including a container receiving checklist. Without having rules in place, costs will skyrocket, shrinkage will increase, and profits will diminish. In particular, you need a checklist that tells everyone in your organization exactly what happens when an inbound container is received.

Establishing a Container Receiving Checklist

Receiving is clearly the most important component of the warehouse cycle. Anyone who’s worked in a distribution center for any amount of time understands this. When receiving inventory, you can royally screw up the entire supply chain, or you can set yourself up for maximum efficiency and success down the road.

Unfortunately, many small businesses are so focused on fulfilling orders and getting outbound shipments out of the warehouse and onto trucks that they forget just how critical receiving is in the grand scheme of things.

The reality is that proper receiving protocol leads to effortless fulfillment and outbound shipments. This means you desperately need to put your attention and focus on inbound shipments. By creating a container receiving checklist, you can ensure your warehouse is operating on a strong and stable foundation.

4 Things to Include

Every company is different. Depending on the products you sell, the turnaround time you’re aiming for, and the amount of labor you have at your disposal, the intricacies of your receiving process may look different than the next company. However, the basics of container receiving should be pretty similar across the board. In virtually every instance, the following points and processes should be accounted for on a container receiving checklist.

1. Proper Inspection Process

Proper Inspection Process

Receiving always starts with a thorough inspection. However, because a proper inspection can be time consuming, many warehouse managers skimp on this responsibility. This is a major mistake.

You should never sign for a delivery without meticulously inspecting the contents of the container. This needs to be highlighted, underlined, and starred at the very top of your checklist.

While your supplier and freight company won’t knowingly ship damaged goods, it’s entirely possible that your goods were damaged during transit. Ask drivers to wait around for a few minutes so that you can inspect the delivery.

Don’t just look at the condition of the boxes and containers. You should physically examine the goods so that you can ensure they are accounted for and in good shape. This is the easiest way to avoid a dispute with your supplier at a later date.

Sometimes it’s not possible to inspect an entire shipment while the driver is still present. In these situations, inspect as much as you can before the driver leaves and then conduct a total inspection immediately following departure.

2. Protocol for Reporting Damaged Goods

Reporting Damaged Goods

Simply inspecting the shipment isn’t good enough. You need to immediately identify and properly report any damaged goods you discover. If you wait even a few days before identifying and reporting damage, it’s possible that the burden of responsibility and cost will be placed on you.

Every warehouse employee who touches inbound inventory needs to understand what proper protocol for reporting damaged goods looks like. Here are a few suggestions that many warehouse managers implement:

  • Have the driver/courier write “damaged” with their initials on any items or boxes that appear to be damaged. The driver should also make note of any damaged items on the proof of delivery form.
  • Immediately take pictures of all damaged goods so that you have a time stamp and visual proof of the damage.
  • Report the damage to the proper authority figure in the organization and have that individual contact the supplier or freight company to file a formal report.

Again, the exact details of how you report damaged goods may vary, but these three tips are an effective place to start.

3. Rules for Signing Off

Rules for Signing Off

Once everything has been inspected and damage – if any – has been reported, it’s time to sign off on the receipt of the inbound container. Again, this isn’t as simple as having the closest person scribble their name on the dotted line. Signing off is a responsibility that should only be granted to certain individuals.

It’s not smart to give hourly or part-time employees sign-off privileges. You should only allow full-time, salaried employees to do this. There’s more incentive for them to follow protocol and additional room for discipline should something happen.

Furthermore, it’s always wise to encourage multiple signatures. This diminishes the likelihood of mistakes in the receiving process and encourages a more comprehensive review.

4. Where to Send Inventory Reports

After receiving shipments, it’s imperative that inventory reports are sent to the proper departments and authority figures. Unfortunately, this is where the process breaks down in many warehouses. Often times, there’s a disconnect between the warehouse and other departments, which leads to sales and fulfillment issues further down the supply chain.

On your container receiving checklist, there should be clear instructions for sending and filing inventory reports. Thankfully, this process has been streamlined in recent years with the introduction of advanced inventory software and tools, but it’s still necessary for employees to have a firm understanding of how to approach this stage.

Examples of Container Receiving Checklists

Sometimes it helps to see tangible examples in order to get a better grasp of how exactly something works. If you’re a visual person who prefers referencing frameworks, you may find the following two examples useful:

Contact QStock Inventory Today

At QStock Inventory, we understand the importance of accurate and comprehensive container receiving processes. Whether you source your products domestically or internationally, few things are as crucial to warehouse efficiency as meticulous receiving.

While your process will certainly be different than your closest competitor’s approach, you can learn a lot from the four points referenced in this article. Additionally, you may find it helpful to contact us to learn more about our products and solutions. When properly leveraged, they can help you enhance accuracy, reduce costs, and improve warehouse visibility. Feel free to reach out today for more information!

Justin Velthoen

Justin Velthoen

Justin Velthoen has 20 years of supply chain experience, from food distribution to manufacturing, to systems management and implementation. His primary focus is helping businesses realize the cost savings directly to their bottom line.

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QStock offers Warehouse Control, Integrated Shipping, eCommerce, ASNs, Commercial Invoices, Customer Portal, Drop Ship, Lot & Serial Track and Trace, Work Order, with compliance label printing from FDA UDI compliance to SSCC-18 Labels.

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