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Warehousing Receiving Tips

Furniture World Magazine


More receiving tips that boost profits.

  • Many shipments signed for without exception are obviously damaged but are not caught due to lack of training or poor employee attitudes. There may be carton damage, creased corners, missing cartons. broken glass noise as the carton is handled or other signs that should be apparent to the receiving person. The freight bill, delivery receipt or other document should be noted and witnessed by the driver.

  • If the packaging is damaged, open it immediately and carefully. Preserve all the packaging materials with the damaged product. If the driver gives any hassle, call the carrier's terminal and talk to the claims manager or terminal manager.

  • When damage is found after the carrier leaves, a phone call should be made to the terminal claims manager or a claim filed immediately by fax. Concealed damage claims are harder to collect but still worth the effort.

  • There is a standard claim form that is acceptable to all carriers that explains the particulars of the damage and the costs to repair or replace. Don't forget to include the pro-rata share of the freight costs or freight cost for a replacement shipment. Request a carrier inspection. The carrier has a right to verify the damage but should do it promptly. Follow-up the next day if they haven't scheduled the inspection. If they don't, make your own inspection with photos and file the claim to the carrier.

  • When the carrier verbally waives inspection and authorizes repairs or replacement, write down the person's name, title, the approved amount and date. Request the carrier to fax a written confirmation and include this information with your formal claim.

  • If the carrier agrees to pay for a complete replacement, they have salvage rights. Anything less and the product is yours to do with as you wish.

  • Sometimes the carrier will decline the claim based on poor packaging or product quality.
    If so, contact the manufacturer with a copy of the declined claim. Usually the supplier will then pay the claim or provide a replacement without charge.

Everyone is familiar with old party game "telephone" which gives participants the task of whispering a sentence to their neighbor. As the message makes its way from participant to participant, any relationship between the first message and the last message unavoidably becomes coincidental.

Unfortunately a similar 'game' is being played in the receiving departments of many home furnishings retailers. Procedures which should be formalized and documented are passed along from employee to employee over the years. Each time the procedure is passed verbally, something is lost in the transfer.

Effective receiving is needed for good customer service and sound financial management. Receiving is the process of accepting merchandise from carriers, vendors shipping on their own trucks, inter-store transfers and customer returns. It requires standard procedures and an audit trail.

If receiving isn't controlled, you may have to pay for merchandise that you never got or for damages you didn't cause. Good procedures will help gain efficiency and reduce the chances for fraud.

  • When receiving, compare the actual number on the factory seal to the bill of lading and have your employee break the seal.
  • Secure the vehicle with chocks or other devices before entering.
  • Provide adequate lighting so employees can see what they are doing. Count and inspect all merchandise carefully, paying special attention to products susceptible to damage or vendors with a poor track record for product quality.
  • Look for cartons that are damaged, crushed or punctured. Inspect the bottom several inches of case good cartons for holes caused by lift truck forks.
  • Shake cartons containing glass and listen for broken glass noise. (Some carriers have a notation on their delivery receipts that all claims for glass breakage must be made at time of delivery.
  • Having a Polaroid camera available to photograph damaged product is an excellent way to improve your claims recovery.
  • The receiving tally is the start of the audit trail. This document must contain the required information plus any exceptions.... shortages, overages and damage, Always count twice before signing once!
  • Make sure documents match the packing list or manifest.
  • Note and document any and all
  • Make sure customer returns are in accord with your return policy and that the product hasn't been abused and has all its parts.
  • If you don't have clear policies on returns, you should.

When everything is processed for any receipt, the paperwork should be clipped together and sent to accounting to be matched with the invoice, freight bill and original purchase order terms. Receiving is both a material handling and auditing process. Bottom line, you must know you have the material ordered, the required quantity and quality, received within the acceptable dates and an accurate record of the transaction.

Daniel Bolger, P.E. provides consulting and management services in the areas of logistics, warehousing and transportation. Questions on this or other articles by Mr. Bolger can be directed to dbolger@furninfo.com.