3pl right decision

5 Reasons why Outsourcing non-core functions to 3PL is the Right Decision

In today’s economy, businesses need to be efficient in every aspect of its operations to gain an edge over their competitors. What happens if the company is not able to focus all its energy on its core competencies? The answer is stunted growth and probably in due time, obsolescence. As per the Inbound Logistics’ 12th annual 3PL market research report, in the US, consumption has been inconsistent and volatile even as the manufacturing industry rebound from the recession. Stores were slow to clear their inventories and replenish. As a result, the stock and corresponding stock-to-sales ratios moved upward while cargo volumes fell behind. There have also been a lot of changes on the regulatory front too.

In such volatile economic conditions, 3PL(Third Party Logistics) companies exhibit a greater influence, helping businesses adapt to these changes. From warehousing & distribution to transportation; from pick and pack solutions to complete co-packing solutions, 3PLs offer a complete package. They have been serving myriad of industries including manufacturing (92%), retail (84%), and wholesale (76%). E-Commerce (65%) is a fast-growing niche as fulfillment complexity, and customer service expectations continue to grow while borders are being transcended.

Here are 5 reasons why businesses should outsource their non-core functions to 3PLs:

Focus on Core Competencies:

By zeroing in on a fulfillment partner and agreeing with them on a performance plan with mutually defined metrics that determine the relationship’s success, businesses can set aside their worries and concerns about the non-core functions. This enables them to focus more on their core competency.  They would be able to save capital, as an investment in logistics assets, such as warehouse space, information networks, transportation, and staff, usually needs large and lump sum costs. When these functions are outsourced to 3PLs, it frees up a lot of capital which could be invested in bettering the businesses’ core competencies. Furthermore, the 3PL providers, in turn, can spread the risks by outsourcing to sub-contractors.

Rapid Technological Changes:

In 2017, 66 percent of 3PL survey respondents of the Inbound Logistics’ market survey cited technology investment as their top priority.

With demand behavior changing, how businesses deliver products and services to market coupled with the ever-changing demographics and digital disruptions at the point of sale, industries are being constantly challenged.

From in-house, patented data analytics engines to private-labeled TMS systems hosted in the cloud or on-premise, or managed as a service, 3PLs are continuously upgrading in order to stay in the competition. With 3PLs offering shopping cart integrations, smart order fulfillment, integration with the best in class shipping companies like FedEx, UPS etc., E-commerce Fulfilment has become speedy, accurate and economic.

An excellent example is the automotive industry where big names like GM, Ford, and Toyota are associating with technology giants like Google and tech entrepreneurs like Tesla and Uber to reshape the way people and goods move.

Global Services and developing evolving markets:

The political volatility seen across the world is impacting today’s logistics outsourcing paradigm. Protectionism is the buzz word which threatens the age-old perceptions of globalization as supply chains become more demand sensitive, risk-averse, environment conscious—and of course, local. The manufacturers and retailers are also continuously scanning for new markets worldwide to sell into and distribute through at minimal costs.

3PL providers constantly enhance their resource networks via technology and partnerships to ensure efficiency is maximised, to mitigate risks and execute contingency plans when exceptions inevitably arise. Their vast resource networks spread across the globe has advantages over in-house supply chains making it easier and cheaper for businesses to enter evolving markets. They are able to offer volume discounts which in turn reduce overhead for the businesses and assure fast and proficient service; you get access to resources which would otherwise be out of bounds or very expensive.

Saves Time and Money:

With the utilization of a 3PL, you have the ability to save money by eliminating the need to invest in physical distribution centers, technology, transportation, and staff required to execute the logistics process which involves financial risks. You also do not need to worry and spend time on the nitty-gritty of paperwork, audits, staffing and their trainings as well as optimization in these operations, for this is an area of expertise for 3PLs. This helps the business to build a worldwide logistics network where the risk is lower and the returns higher.

Non-sales related call activities; receiving, checking and managing your inventories; pick and pack, co-packing, order processing, and fulfilment activities; delivery and tracking are some of the activities that are expertly handled by established 3PL companies, thereby, freeing up your time and money to focus on product development/sourcing, marketing, and increasing sales.

Scalability and Flexibility:

The “Amazon effect” has only amplified the importance of speed and agility in today’s marketplace. The stress of high and low seasons, scaling space, labor and transportation as per the inventory requirements could affect the health of businesses.

3PLs are masters at coping with change and have the required resources at hand to make the necessary alterations to every scenario thereby ensuring efficient order fulfillment.  If a business needs additional space to scale up their operations, a 3PL provider is a just call away and would be able to take care of it in a jiffy making the businesses more flexible.

3PLs have the ability to improve almost every aspect of the supply chain, ensuring that your needs are met as quickly as possible in the most competent and cost-effective way. They can help maximize margins, reduce wait times, and gain more satisfied customers, thereby, creating robust, successful businesses.

Reverse Logistics – Are you ready for it?

A functional reverse logistics approach works perfectly when it comes to enhancing the user experience and even reducing overall inventory costs. Reverse logistics, in the truest possible sense, signifies a strategy that remains active after the point-of-sale and aims at recapturing the product value. This approach also ensures that the returned product is disposed of perfectly following the process of remanufacturing, replacement and refurbishment. Basically, reverse logistics makes the best use of excess inventory and scrap followed by efficient recycling, equipment distortion and asset recovery programs.

Why Reverse Logistics is the New Fad?

Previously, companies didn’t emphasize a lot on reverse logistics but with the advent of law enforcement and consumer awareness, certain commodities had to be disposed of in an efficient manner. This is why reverse logistics came to the fore with some companies even acquiring ISO certifications for validating their recycling process.

When it comes to the nooks and crannies of reverse logistics, the concerned activities entirely depend on how the products are actually dealt with. If a product is to be sent back, the basic reverse logistics approaches include landfill, recycle, recondition, remanufacture and refurbish. In case of a packaging material, companies prefer reusing and reclaiming the materials as well. Moreover, reusing the products and packaging materials allows a firm to reduce overhead costs. Lastly, if the product or packaging condition doesn’t allow recycling, scraping the same is the next best option.

Are Organizations up for the Implementations?

Reverse logistics comes across as a powerful strategic weapon for enterprises but there are only a few firms that have actually implemented the same, in the long run. However, the current industrial requirements are such that firms need to prepare themselves against inclement situations and this is where reverse logistics can help. That said, efficient reverse logistics services can help an organization establish credibility by offering better tamper-proof packaging and other essential perks.

Moreover, in this era of cut-throat competition, it becomes important for the companies to inculcate better logistical habits. Therefore, reverse logistics is one approach that offers a competitive advantage to some industries by helping them reach higher levels of customer satisfaction. According to the reverse logistics approach, any customer that doesn’t like the product can return the same by filling up pre-printed or even online forms. Be it quick replacement of defective products or addressing issues related to fit or compatibility, reverse logistics helps companies set exceptional examples of user satisfaction without putting a lot of stress on the profitability.


Streamlining Reverse Logistics

Following a reverse logistics plan alone isn’t sufficient for improving the aspects of profit and customer satisfaction. Industries which are willing to incorporate this approach towards logistics must be prepared for streamlining the same. This strategy involves pairing up the reverse logistics approach with the likes of tracking and proper visibility. In addition to proper visibility, companies must also concentrate on lowering the return rates. At present, companies and retailers following the policy of returns are losing out on at least 10 percent of the operational profits.

Fitting in the Same with Supply Chain Management

Firstly, an efficient reverse logistics plan helps industries build exceptional brand loyalty. This is why it must be an inseparable part of the supply chain management provided the returns are initiated seamlessly enough.

The first approach towards pairing a supply chain management process with reverse logistics inputs would involve lowering down the higher return costs. Based on reports released by the Entrepreneur, one order amidst three dispatches needs to be returned. Moreover, with Omnichannel customers looking for improved order returning flexibility, it becomes all the more important to facilitate returns via multiple channels.

The entire supply chain has several segregations when it comes to the product conditions. While the returns for unopened items are processed immediately, others go through the liquidators, distribution centers and even resellers, before finding the secondary buyer.

The Basics of a Successful Strategy

When it comes to implementing a functional reverse logistics strategy, it’s all about initiating product expeditions at a faster rate. That said, companies can also hire efficient 3PL service providers for designing a successful policy towards handling, collecting and distributing the items for returns. Apart from that, there should be specific warehouses for storing returned products. In addition to the infrastructural strategies, there must be efficient return policies in place; clubbed with a powerful financial tracking layout.

Having a dedicated channel for product returns is also important as it takes out the defective items from the supply chain and assigns specific commodities to specific centers. For a reverse logistics strategy to succeed, industries must be able to analyze and capture data perfectly. This step-pronged approach allows retailers to predict the types and volumes of returned products while helping them amplify their inventory management process.

Inventory accounting

Understanding the Basics of Inventory Accounting

The entire concept of inventory accounting offers an insight into the inventory assets of an organization. Therefore, every business that concerns warehousing, logistics and storage need to abide by the guidelines of inventory accounting. While there are many accounting strategies associated with inventory management, it all comes down to proper record keeping and inventory valuation. Needless to say, inventory accounting, clubbed with inventory valuation, directly impacts industrial taxation and profits.

Inventory Accounting: Definition

It is important to evaluate inventory as an entrepreneurial asset before assigning valuation and accounting strategies to the same. However, in order to validate a portion of inventory as an asset, it is important to assign costs to the same. Be it the raw materials or an existing conglomerate of finished products; any kind of inventory is considered an asset, provided it’s valuated and accounted, accordingly. Placing a value on the inventory is termed as inventory accounting which directly impacts the overall costs of products.

Inventory Accounting: Modus Operandi

Although, inventory accounting is based on tedious calculations, the basic approach towards leveraging its functionality involves using the same for calculating the ending inventory costs. The ending costs when subtracted from the beginning inventory costs and purchases clearly reveal the actual costs of the products during a predefined period. Therefore, inventory accounting is a great business tool for retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

Businesses often face inventory assigning challenges as similar goods usually carry different price tags at different points in time. Therefore, it becomes difficult for businesses to have a fixed algorithm when it comes to calculating the ending inventory costs. Needless to say, every enterprise should look to embrace a particular approach towards inventory accounting during the initial days which can later be changed, according to the requirements. This brings us to the fact that there are multiple approaches to inventory accounting.

Inventory Accounting Guidelines

The process of inventory valuation requires a business to establish a sales-specific operating account. The next approach or rather guideline involves establishing a tracking system for the concerned inventory and then following it up by a physical control. Purchasing, receiving and recording product transactions are the subsequent inventory accounting processes which are followed by establishing a physical warehouse for inventory management. Lastly, inventory accounting or rather valuation requires businesses to adjust the ledger balances for fixing the product price points.

Different Types of Inventory Accounting

Accountants, specific to industries, should predefine the inventory accounting approaches, before moving ahead with the process of inventory management and logistics. At present, the existing strategies include the First in First Out process, Last in First Out process, specific inventory identification method and lastly, the weighted average method.

1.       FIFO— This inventory accounting method works when the accountants realize that the first item entering the long list of inventories is the first one to be sold. The FIFO accounting technique, therefore, aligns itself with supply chain and lowers the overall cost of products. With the oldest lot moving out at first, this inventory accounting approach results in higher operational earnings and increased taxes.

2.       LIFO—  Here is an inventory approach where businesses move out or sell the product that’s purchased last. While this process is beneficial during inflation and sudden surges in prices, it has been officially banned by the IFRS or International Financial Reporting Standards. LIFO actually increases the trending costs of products, which in turn leads to lesser income taxes and lower operational earnings. As the older products are stagnated in this approach, LIFO often leads to obsolete inventory.

3.       Specific Identification— Probably the most well-researched inventory accounting process, specific identification technique tracks the cost of each item and tallies the same with the one sold. This approach requires advanced levels of data tracking and works best with the pricier commodities.

4.       Weighted Average— Here is a standalone inventory layer where the existing inventory costs are rolled along with the newer purchases and an average cost is determined. The average value can therefore be readjusted whenever newer products are added into the scheme of things.

Inventory accounting isn’t a straightforward process but can be simplified if the organizations hire functional and reliable accountants. Moreover, this approach works perfectly when it comes to assigning values to the existing inventory which actually helps categorize them as business assets. Lastly, it is important to select the best accounting technique based on the business requirements as having one in place can help maximize the revenue potential and simplify the entire process of taxation and record keeping.

supply chain management

Top 7 ways to future-proof your supply chain

Supply chain disruptions present a strong case for the inclusion of future-proof management techniques. However, it is the advent of digital technologies that actually helps companies foresee the risk and threats pertaining to the supply chain. Moreover, future proofing the hierarchy renders additional levels of efficiency, agility and even visibility to the retailers and industries, alike. That said, every supply chain management strategy thrives on availability for the customers. With retailers and suppliers battling it out for additional profits, there are times when the customer interests get compromised. Therefore, having a robust and futuristic supply chain helps companies reach higher levels of customer satisfaction by addressing the key concept of product availability.

In a nutshell, companies must strive for minimal disruption and better availability; clubbed together for an accelerated growth.

Digitizing the Supply Chain Hierarchy

The simplest approach towards minimizing disruptions involves leveraging big data and predictive analytics. Digitizing the entire network and integrating the same over a digital ecosystem involves raw material procurement, customer fulfillment and even logistics. However, digitizing the supply chain hierarchy allows business to aggregate insights from varied websites, systems and suppliers. This approach, therefore, improves supply chain visibility and allows end-to-end data orchestration. Basically, it’s all about investing in technology as it takes complexity out and simplifies the entire supply chain management process.

Having a United Vision towards Supply Chain Management

Future-proofing the supply chain requires a proactive approach and a unified vision towards growth. No technique would suffice if an organization isn’t even willing to take a pledge towards long-term supply and enabling relationships. Having a vision requires companies to create channels between sustainability, business continuity, quality and even relationships. Basically, it’s all about the vision and how organizations focus on the same.

Building Supplier and Manufacturer Capability

Customers aren’t actually bothered about the service levels but focus completely on the availability. Therefore, it is important that companies start focusing on establishing supplier and manufacturer capabilities by either partnering with them or innovating alongside for exchanging information. This approach aims at creating awareness about product availability and collaborating with suppliers for mitigating supply chain threats. This strategy also comes forth with enhanced levels of scrutiny and focuses on rendering transparency to the supply chain framework. Another way of building capabilities is to encourage healthy competition by often resorting to certain benchmarking tools or even performance indicators.

Collaborating with the Suppliers

As a matter of fact, no company would be able to future-proof the supply chain by just acting alone. Be it establishing healthy partnerships with suppliers or collaborating with the stakeholders over projects, a company can only grow if it supports coalitions and co-creates supply chain programs. Moreover, creating partnerships enables organizations to achieve a farsighted vision.

Concentrating on the Customers

Customer trust levels are integral to a robust supply chain. Companies must therefore look to provide the best value to the customers, regardless of the supply or manufacturing issues. In this era of cut-throat competition, the price is secondary and it’s all about establishing higher customer trust and satisfaction levels. Organizations that concentrate on customer satisfaction and overall trust levels can easily gain a competitive advantage over their contemporaries.

Working with the Multi-Channel Approach

One way of amplifying the existing supply chain hierarchy is to opt for a multi-channel approach. Having this strategy in place allows companies to offer products to the customers in more than one way. This way companies can scale newer heights in terms of customer satisfaction. Moreover, the multi-channel approach offers several insights into the customer experience by taking care of user interests.

Opting for Responsible Practices

Even in this increasingly competitive era, organizations must stand by the operational efficiencies and ethical supply chain management practices. The idea here is to opt for certain advanced risk and threat protection tools which in turn offer ethical and environmental risk monitoring options to the enterprises. In addition to that, a robust supply chain also calls for the inclusion of transformative technologies which assist in creating a collaborative and transparent network.

When it comes to future-proofing a supply chain, organizations must concentrate on sustainability while pursuing the digital vision. That said, the emphasis must be on the creating resilient production systems which will minimally impact the environment and even encourage cross-sector partnerships.



Top Tips to improve inventory management process

Senior executives and organizational CFOs understand the value of inventory management as any form of shortage or glut might lead to reduced productivity. Enterprises usually rely on external benchmarks for assessing the existing state of inventory and in the meanwhile, end up making erroneous operational assumptions. It needs to be understood that the inventory is probably the largest asset in a company and managing the same requires an extremely proactive approach. Be it right-sizing the same, identifying overstocks or liquidating certain products— improving the entire inventory management process requires an organization to deploy a host of innovative strategies.

Why Inventory Management is Important?

Inventory is the integral part of a supply chain and can be considered as an omnipresent metric. While having minimal inventory can lead to lower sales, excessive inventory cripples the organization by eating in to space, labor, money and even transportation costs. Moreover, enterprises with limited capital and resources should emphasize more on the inventory management process as tracking the same with accuracy can help them make better purchase decisions and improve stocking.

That said, inventory management isn’t a linear process and requires holistic attention. Organizations must concentrate equally on the quality, levels, records and even the physical aspects of the concerned inventory. Unless the enterprise is stocking the right form of inventory, it is pointless to go ahead with the discussions concerning the entire management process.

Tips for Improving the Inventory Management Process

It is essential to cover the ideas and perspectives that involve execution, planning and even investigations. An inventory management process aims at reviewing the critical aspects of supply chain while implementing cutting-edge technologies.

  1. Using Optimization Tools

Optimization tools for checking on the inventory management process have gathered massive levels of recognition.  While these can be as simple as the stand-alone tools like ERP and WMS systems, they typically consider demand and supply variability followed by a host of replenishment parameters and other supply chain metrics. The idea is to incorporate these tools into the transactional hierarchy of the concerned distribution center; thereby minimizing human interventions.

  1. Employing Business Solutions with Real-Time Analytics On-Board

Tracking the inventory management process with excel spreadsheets is obsolete. Instead, organizations must make the shift towards real-time analytics that offer a unified informational model followed by granular analysis and instant responses. These innovative business solutions also support stimulations and scenario planning; helping businesses take myriad planning decisions.

  1. Treating SKUs Differently

One expert tip would be to assess the demand and supply variability patterns of different products in different ways. Better termed as service-level segregation, this approach can help organizations maximize their resources while segmenting their diverse stocking policies.

  1. Keeping a Track of Suppliers

More often than not, suppliers can let organizations down by not adhering to deadlines or commitments. Monitoring the listed suppliers and tracking them using inbound receipts are certain strategies that might fit in with an inventory management process. In addition to that, checking the quality of the received products is also important.

  1. Tracking Essential Attributes

When it comes to approaching an inventory management process with proactivity, it’s all about tracking product traceability and genealogy. While some industries are restricted to tracking the lot numbers, other essential attributes are often ignored; thereby impairing an existing management plan. However, the best idea to approach this situation would be to capture attributes and process the same in context to the supply chain. Tracking also increases overall visibility and improves the decision making.

  1. Leveraging Mobile Devices

Mobile ecosystems are ubiquitous when it comes to capturing data and processing the same. Therefore, businesses must look to leverage the same by training employees about their usage and functionality. This strategy improves accuracy, speeds up the business, increases efficiency and even minimizes the delays associated with paper-centric operations.

  1. Handling Obsolete Sections Smartly

Businesses must be extra careful about the slow movers in an inventory management framework. There will definitely be some items that occupy greater spaces, utilize additional resources and aren’t even sold on a daily basis. The risk of obsolescence is therefore paramount when it comes to dealing with the SLOB i.e. Slow Moving and Obsolete Items.

  1. Giving Importance to Slotting

It is important to slot items beforehand in order to segregate the spatial arrangements. Moreover, slotting also minimizes the travel distance, maximizes throughput and even improves productivity.


Inventory Management is the key to organizational productivity and amplified customer experience. However, it’s all about putting these strategies to use, in order to improve the overall inventory management process.

10 Ideas for a Better Packaging Design

When it comes to product packaging, businesses need to address multiple requirements instead of concentrating more on aesthetics and creativity. Put simply, a packaging design need not be outstanding but should help amplify overall sales. Designers need to understand that anything that improves the sales figures is a great addition to the branding arsenal. Therefore, certain basic principles need to be followed in order to bring forth the best possible package design for a business, regardless of the aesthetics, grandeur and appeal.

Dealing with the Competition

At present, manufacturers are concentrating on making the product look good and saleable. In the process, they keep adding innovations to the packaging designs for holding and even glorifying the products. With several designs competing for customer attention, it becomes important to focus on functionality, logistical considerations and the catered audience, for a specific one to succeed. There are certain trends which should be kept in mind while designing a package and manufacturers must be well-versed with the same.

The Target Audience

Firstly, the efficacy of a designing campaign depends on the target audience. At the end, it’s all about understanding the market and working towards fulfilling the requirements of the loyal customer base. One such example would be Apple which has been sticking to a minimalistic yet elegant packaging design for all its products; precisely for living up to the expectations of its elite customer base.

Inspirational Designs

Most manufacturers tend to ignore the product in their quest towards an appealing packaging design. Instead, the package should drive inspiration from the product and designers must incorporate the identity of the latter in the design.

Practical Packaging

Customers prefer packages which are easier to use and open. While this doesn’t mean designing a package with minimal security features, it basically aims at making the designs practical enough. A customer would never want to spend most of his or her valuable time on the package and the design must simplify his way towards the actual product instead of hindering his advances.

Planning for Sales

Brands and the associated designers must try to keep the sales quotient in mind, while zeroing in on a packaging layout. While the outlook is important, it’s all comes down to amplifying the sales via a cohesive amalgamation of packaging and marketing. Therefore, the packaging design must cater equally to the retailers, distributors and varied sales channels.

Green Packaging

The modern era urges designers to opt for sustainable layouts by making Green packaging a norm. Using eco-friendly materials actually improves the sales efforts and persuades customers into making purchases.

Customer Attention

Adding innovations and subtleness to the packaging designs is as important as making it inspirational. It isn’t easy to grab the customer attention and therefore designers must toil harder towards achieving the same.

Protecting the Product

A sturdy yet appealing package is the need of the hour. There are products which need to be handled with care and therefore designers must look to create packages which can safeguard the sheltered entity from diverse elements.

The Aspect of Production

Companies usually manufacture products in bulk and therefore the packaging designs must also fulfill the same criterion. Inconsistent product packages are not advisable and designers must opt for something that easier to reproduce in case of reorders and bulk purchases.

Fonts and Colors

In simpler terms, a packaging design must address the requirements of customers, sales channels and even vendors. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for fonts and colors that evoke certain emotions; thereby skyrocketing the sales figures.


Last but not the least, choosing the right language is equally important when it comes to designing a package. To be precise, it actually depends on the sales channels and target audience. Creating content for the packaging designs can come in handy at times and this is where selecting the right language plays its part.

Companies and their respective branding teams work hard towards creating functional and holistic product packaging layouts. However, the entire process requires truckloads of efforts and exceptional graphic design prowess to come through as a successful one. While the quality of products is the most important metric for initiating sales, product packaging is a close second when it comes to persuading the leads and converting them into loyal customers.

Business Bar Code Alphabet Numbers

Guide to Barcode Types and Standards

When it comes to tracking inventory and assets across the supply chain hierarchy, barcode labels are the most functional tools. However, analyzing and putting the barcode information to use can get complicated if the industries aren’t well versed with the types and existing standard-issuing entities. While a host of barcode types exist, a specific industry needs to concentrate on select versions for labeling the physical inventory and establishing industry-wide consistencies. Moreover, barcode labels also make it easier for the organizations to transfer data across multiple channels.

Types of Barcodes

Myriad barcode types can be further grouped into three categories:

  1. Numeric-Only

These are typical one-dimensional barcodes that comprise only of numbers and represent data in the form of varying spaces and width of the parallel lines. These entities are further segregated into UPC and EAN codes. The former makes use of 12-digit codes; carrying the identity and identification number of the manufacturer. The EAN codes, on other hand, are quite similar to the UPC barcodes and support POS scanning. However, they have a 13-digit format and multiple variations like EAN-13, JAN-13, EAN-8, ISSN and ISBN.

Apart from that, there are Interleaved and Industrial 2 of 5 codes followed by Standard 2 of 5, Codabar, Code II and POSTNET codes.

  1. Alpha-Numeric

Alpha-Numeric barcodes are also one-dimensional entities that are created using a strategic combination of alphabetic characters and numbers. When it comes to detailed segregation, there are Plessy codes followed by Code 39, Code 93, Code 128 and LOGMARS. The Plessy codes are primarily used for retail groceries and shelf marking while the defense industries and automotive organizations use the Code 39 barcodes. A compacter version of the Code 39 is Code 93 where the barcodes use only 9 elements per character as compared to 15. Code 128 barcodes can be used for similar industries but they boast of a broader character set and better density.

Lastly, we have LOGMARS codes which stand for Logistics Applications of Automated Marking and Reading and are typically used by the Defense applications.

  1. Two-Dimensional

These barcodes have a definite shape, including the likes of a rectangle or square and also come with a unique arrangement of small dots. The best thing about using 2D barcodes is that they can hold a lot of informative data within smaller spaces. They can also be etched or printed on smaller areas. Typical examples of the same include QR codes or Quick Response codes, Data Matrix, Aztec and PDF417.

The QR codes are present virtually on everything that can be retailed, including the likes of books, beverage cups and what not. The Data matrix barcodes are used for document management, postal services, logistics and healthcare applications.  PDF417 makes its presence felt in transport, identification cards and inventory management. Lastly, 2D Aztec codes are best suited for boarding passes, tickets and literally anything that concerns the transportation industry. These codes, however, take minimal space and store a lot of important information.

Barcode Standards

While there is already an expansive collection of barcode types and applications, companies are constantly generating new ones for being proactive with the labeling ideas. However, with the inventory and supply chain requirements escalating with each passing day, consistency is required to streamline the information flow by issuing certain standards. This brings us to the important concept of barcode standardization, precisely by the governing bodies and varied industry regulators.

  1. AIM Global— Better termed as the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, this is an authoritative body concerning automatic identification, networking and data collection. Myriad AIM standards gradually transform into ISO standards.
  2. ANSI— The voice of Conformity Assessment, ANSI focuses on global economy, environment protection and customer safety.
  3. AIAG— Automotive Industry Action Group or AIAG lays down industry-wide standards and brings together volunteers for achieving a common consensus.
  4. Defense Logistics Agency— This body defines standards for parts, supplies, procurement of materials and other activities pertaining to the DoD logistics system.
  5. EPA— Environmental Protection Agency aims at issuing standards and practices related to air and water compliance.
  6. FHWA— This barcode standard oversees highways signs and varied traffic regulations.
  7. FASB— Financial Accounting Standards Board concerns laying down standards for private and public companies.
  8. GASB— Government Accounting Standards Board aims at improving reporting standards and financial accounting for local and state governments.
  9. GS1— This standard aims at data capture, sharing and improved global collaboration.
  10. HIBCC— Here is a barcode standard that’s specific to the healthcare industry.
  11. ISO— International Organization for Standardization is probably the largest developer when it comes to the voluntary standards. This organization has already developed more than 21,000 standards, pertaining to business and technology.
  12. IWLA— This association develops standards for the logistics and warehousing industry.
  13. JAPIA— Here is an association that defines barcode standards for improving production, research and information related to auto parts.

While these are some of existing barcode standards, there are a few more that have specific roles when it comes to handling the labeling requirements of supply chain professionals and fixed asset professionals. It is therefore important to understand the role of barcodes in asset tracking and inventory management. With stricter industry regulations coming up, it is important for the industries to comply with the existing barcode standards. Moreover, these barcodes can positively impact the growth of a business by contributing towards its long-term success, in the form of monitoring and reporting compliance.

Warehouse sungsitix

Want to set up a successful warehouse? – Don’t miss on these

Predicting the future trends is important, especially when it comes to analyzing the supply chain. That said, warehousing is an integral part of supply chain management with many industries slowly shifting towards robotics for improving the organizational capabilities of the same. While the inclusion of automation has greatly improved the warehousing options, there are certain areas which need to be prioritized, in order to set up a successful warehouse. That said, industries must be wary of the modern warehousing trends as following them with dedication can certainly give them a competitive advantage over the competitors.

Practical Warehouse Considerations

Before we start discussing about the key focus areas related to warehousing, it is important to enlist the considerations without compromising on the budget.

The first and foremost warehouse consideration would be to facilitate effective and frequent communication with the workers. The management should always be transparent with the employees; thereby creating an environment of openness. This, in turn, involves mentioning the organizational goals, effective warehousing operations and key performance indicators or the KPIs. Transparency is one organizational consideration that improves employee productivity and the turnover.

Another important consideration is to reduce the potential variations associated with shift scheduling, unloading and facility management. Better known as standardization, this approach aims at reducing the errors and additional costs.

A successful warehouse thrives on the five-step approach, involving Definition, Measurement, Analysis, Improvement and Control. The best example of this approach would be DMAIC, the existent Six Sigma technology which aims at offering competitive costs and defect-free performances.

Other warehouse considerations include educating the leadership, creating strong training modules, assessing variations for increasing productivity, organizing team meetings, identifying exact levels of system automation and incorporating the perks of work-output analysis.

Key Areas of Focus

  1. Labor

For setting up a successful warehouse, the entire supply chain management system should save a special mention for the labor. Probably the largest warehouse expense, labor— including the likes of third-party logistics must be managed perfectly for reducing the costs and amplifying productivity. The best idea is to integrate a warehouse management system or WMS with labor management, precisely for improving overall performances.

Some of the existing strategies include cross-training employees, using flextime, revising the labor scheduling strategy, monitoring individual productivity, implementing ‘vendor management system’ and rewarding employees based on their performances.

  1. Operations

This focus area involves identifying the most yielding aspects of warehouse management and putting them to use. This includes identifying productive employees and segregating them into cross-functional teams for increasing overall productivity. Companies must focus on implementing cross-docking for reducing inventory requirements followed by achieving around 100 percent inventory accuracy under any condition. Operations, is one important focus area that readily optimizes space, processes overall returns and replaces overall checking with auditing.

  1. Equipment Use

For setting up a successful warehouse, industries must also focus on optimizing equipment usage. This involves standardizing batteries, opting for short term rentals, managing service vendors, using equipment for double shifts and concentrating more on leasing. Most importantly, this focus area also urges an industry to use preventive equipment maintenance for avoiding system failures.

  1. Technology

A successful warehouse is impossible to construct unless an efficient WMS is in place. Warehouse management is one technology that helps industries save additional costs while also minimizing the dwell time. Apart from that, WMS makes the best possible use of technology by implementing light picking systems and voice directed picking for reducing human interference. Lastly, interacting and communicating with suppliers via electronic data interface is yet another aspect of an efficient warehouse management system.

  1. Facilities Management

A successful warehouse is one that has all the facilities and resources in place. This aspect aims at fine-tuning the less prominent aspects of warehouse management. Be it investigating the efficiency of coolers and fans or buying resources in bulk— a successful warehouse is definitely a myth without these management techniques in place.

  1. Safety

Warehouse safety is of paramount importance and industries must look to implement strategies for securing there inventory and even the storage facilities. Giving attention to forklift operations, designating traffic pathways and prioritizing storage security are some of the best strategies to use.


If an industry is planning to setup a warehouse, it needs to prioritize organization in the first place. Apart from that, it must incorporate strict vigilance, logical pickup processes, quality control and other important metrics for fine-tuning the existing inventory-specific strategies. However, once the warehouse is up and running, proper focus should be on the safety and security of the same.

The Difference Between Cross-docking and Warehousing

In any distribution and fulfilment chain, warehousing is a large component and a costly proposition. In a distribution process, typically there is an incoming transport, and from there the goods are received and stored in a warehouse, and then again picked up for loading on to the outgoing transport bound for the desired destination. You incur charges for warehousing, and the process chain is lengthy.


What if you could eliminate the warehousing bit entirely, and just manage things cleverly so that the incoming goods already have their clients or destinations marked, and the logistics provider could pick up the goods and load them directly to the appropriate outgoing transport? It would completely eliminate the warehousing step, wouldn’t it?


The answer is yes, it is possible, and it is called cross-docking.


How is cross-docking different from traditional warehousing?


Cross-docking involves direct offloading and re-loading. The warehouse part is eliminated. But how’s it different from a process perspective, with respect to traditional warehousing?

In cross-docking the client is required to be pre-mapped to the incoming goods. And you need the services of a Third Party Logistics (3PL) Provider to manage the process of identifying the correct outgoing transport, and moving the goods directly from incoming to outgoing transport. The distributor has to manage multiple relationships with different agencies for picking, warehousing, and transporting. In the case of cross-docking, there are third party logistics (3PL) providers who will handle everything for you. This marks the major difference between cross-docking and warehousing.


The advantages of Cross-Docking over Warehousing


Advantage 1:  Cost Reduction


As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, storing goods in a warehouse is costly. Warehouse rental costs can deliver an unpleasant shock, and should be minimized. In cross-docking you are eliminating or minimising the storing period, and therefore saving on the steep costs of warehousing.


Advantage 2: Improved Efficiency


In traditional warehousing, there are multiple parties involved in the process chain, like trucking partners, logistics partners, and parcel delivery. In cross-docking, you can do away with multiple partners and do with a single 3PL who can handle things end-to-end.


Advantage 3: Increased Reliability of Delivery


Since Cross-docking involves fewer human hands needed to handle the products, the risk of damage and human errors is minimized and this improves the prospects of receiving the products in good conditions and on time. Elimination of the warehousing step also improves the speed of delivery.


Advantage 4: Reduced Inventory


Since the stock is picked and directly shipped out to the clients, the inventory pileup in the warehouse is reduced, and this naturally translates to moving towards just in time inventory models which benefit everyone in the chain.


What’s right for me – cross-docking or warehousing?


Now we come to the all-important question: Should you adopt cross-docking? Is it suitable for your business? There are a few criteria which can be used, to answer this question very easily.


– Are you willing to invest the higher management attention and planning that cross-docking takes, as compared to warehousing?


– Do you have sufficiently large volumes that make cross-docking effective? Cross-docking is not efficient at low volume levels.


– Are you able to undergo the long lead time and capex needed to construct the cross-docking terminal structures?


– Are the products you are receiving, customer-ready? Or do they require further processing before they can be shipped to customers?


If your answer to the above questions is ‘yes’, then cross-docking is the way forward for you. Go right ahead!



Warehouse, Pick and Packing

How is Pick and Pack Distribution Beneficial?

When you have to fulfil customer orders for products, often you might have to assemble a set of items together before shipping the complete package to your customer. Pick and Pack Distribution refers to the process where you receive the multiple components at a warehouse, and there they picked and assembled together by the warehouse staff, and then packaged and shipped to the relevant customers.


If you don’t use pick and pack distribution process, then the option for you is to set up your own assembly area, employ staff to receive, store and repackage the goods, and then send them out.


Both systems of working have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on various factors like the size of the business you are running, kind of products you are selling, what kinds of clients you serve, and so on.


Let us look at these aspects, in order to help you take a decision on what kind of distribution system you want to employ.



Pick and Pack: The Basics

Receiving the goods from different suppliers and storing them in a warehouse is an involved job that sorts and stores items in order to best utilize the warehouse space and logistics. Usually warehouses are shared between multiple businesses. There are different zones for storing items, according to their size classification – like full pallet, half pallet, case, individual item, etc.


A warehouse service provider receives goods meant for different businesses and stores them in the most efficient way possible. In the case of Pick and Pack Distribution, the warehouse staff receive the orders, then pick the items from the respective storage areas, assemble and package them, before sending them out.


Often, the orders are assembled by picking the goods belonging to different companies, as the final product to be shipped might be a composite one.


What are the Advantages of Pick and Pack?


  • Cost-effectiveness: Pick and Pack system is cost-effective because the warehouse space is shared and the overheads are distributed between multiple business; plus, the process involves no minimum order sizes and can be extremely flexible. Also, the business can avoid the cost and lead time of setting up their own assembly area and the corresponding staffing.


  • Efficiency: It is more efficient to store and assemble the orders from a single location as it reduces the transport and the different agencies involved in reshipping.


  • Agile and swift: Pick and Pack is a highly flexible and agile system, as we have seen, because of the elimination of redundant steps in the supply-chain, and is therefore quick and ensures shorter turnaround times for the end to end process.


So- what’s the recommendation for me, then?


Having understood the benefits offered by Pick and Pack, you need to evaluate whether your business will benefit from these efficiencies; and make a choice depending on the business model and processes that you employ. For example, if your final shipped packages are comprised of one or two items only, then it might be better for you to pack and dispatch them yourself. At the other extreme if your end package is extremely complex, requiring specialized knowledge to assemble it, then again it might be better for you to choose another method.


Another consideration for you to bear in mind is whether you enjoy the services of an efficient third-party logistics provider who can provide you these services. Because, Pick and Pack is great if done right, but can be horribly messy if it is in the wrong hands!


But if you need to harvest the benefits of efficient warehousing and outsourced product packaging and shipping, then Pick and Pack is the way forward for you. So, take your call, and be on your way to greater efficiencies!