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What does a shipping clerk do?


Every item that comes into a warehouse and then leaves to be sold at a store has to be booked in and out. For example, in very simple terms, a product leaves a factory in Hong Kong, travels around the world on a cargo ship and the container is then loaded onto a freight truck. The truck goes to the warehouse and a Shipping Clerk has to keep a watchful eye on the item’s arrival, storage and then subsequent despatch to the customer usually via a HGV. The main responsibility of a Shipping Clerk is to organise and control all logistics and the delivery of goods, from being placed on the shelf within the warehouse, right through to delivery to the customer.

A Shipping Clerk has to fully understand the supply chain process in order to keep track of every aspect of paperwork. When goods have been shipped, there are a number of documents which need to be prepared and completed – these include:

  • Shipping instructions and goods schedule
  • Shipment status updates
  • Shipping invoices

Sometimes a shipment might be delayed – this could be due to a number of reasons including bad weather on the open seas. You can track a shipment from the point it has left the harbour to when it arrives on UK shores. A Shipping Clerk monitors the progress of goods throughout the supply chain from ship to freight forwarder.

This is one of the most fascinating aspects of being a Shipping Clerk – your role will be to watch a product journeying around the globe.

As well as the shipment itself, once it arrives at the warehouse there are a number of different activities which need to take place:

  • Picking and packing of boxes; checking the right amount of goods has arrived and checking to see if there has been any damage.
  • Making sure stock is moved to the right location within the warehouse and monitoring stock levels.
  • Liaising with suppliers to receive and despatch the goods including proof of delivery.
  • Updating the logistics system on a computer which can often link directly to your customer’s computer system.
  • Ensuring all paperwork is correctly processed and filed.

To become a Shipping Clerk, you don’t need a formal qualification but a good set of GCSEs will help. Good traits include attention to detail because you will need to ensure that all processing of paperwork and data is highly accurate. You would need to be well-organised, and strong communication skills are useful because you could be liaising with companies around the globe, as well as different members of staff within your immediate setting.

What’s more, by having a flexible approach to work, a Shipping Clerk is able to handle the varying situations which can arise when part of the supply chain breaks down. This could be due to traffic delays, the wrong amount of goods being delivered or damaged goods being received. There’s never a dull moment in logistics!

Interested in becoming a Shipping Clerk? Find out more by speaking to one of our team.

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