Fulfillment

Benefits of Recruiting an Efficient Fulfillment Partner

When it comes to optimizing an existing supply chain framework, organizations must clearly emphasize on the fulfillment services. Moreover, fulfillment service providers also play a vital role when it comes to handling and improving the shipping logistics. While certain organizations opt for in-house fulfillment services, some prefer outsourcing majority of their work to experienced service providers which can also handle the basics of distribution.

While having a strategically situated fulfillment center comes in handy, fulfillment partners must also look to streamline and simplify the supply chain process. Moreover, an efficient service provider must also aim at improving the customer experience, across multiple channels. In the subsequent sections, we shall look at the topmost traits pertaining to a highly efficient fulfillment service provider while enlisting the most prior ones for improving productivity.

Better Order Management Framework

Organizations must have high expectations from their fulfillment partners and the ability to address order management should be at the top of the pecking order. The e-commerce fulfillment service provider should be able to pair all of its attributes with innovative technologies. That said, efficient order management must cater to multiple channels while being able to handle the nooks and crannies of product demand and order placements.

Inventory Management Capabilities

Every organization needs to be careful about the product inventory, spread across diverse marketing channels. Therefore, an efficient fulfillment partner must offer considerable levels of visibility for tracking real-time and continuous inventory-specific developments. This trait helps companies manage the supply chain in a better way.

Reporting in Real-Time

A functional fulfillment service provider must be able to report about e-commerce whereabouts in real-time. This, in turn, offers an expansive and detailed view of the inventory; thereby helping customers complete orders in a quick and seamless manner. Real-time reporting feature is probably the most underrated aspect of supply chain management and an efficient fulfillment service provider should bring the same to the fore.

 

Hassle-free Fulfillment Completion

A fulfillment service provider should at least be able to complete the tasks associated with fulfillment in a precise and seamless manner. A service provider that can cope up with the promotional sales and seasonal demands can be easily considered as bankable. However, it’s all about pairing services with advanced technologies, in order to achieve fulfillment perfection. Needless to say, an efficient fulfillment partner can improve the visibility of the concerned brand by rendering back-end expertise and other intuitive ideas.

Ability to Fix Warehouses

A fulfillment partner with considerable levels of expertise can help a warehouse with the designing elements. There are times when a non-scalable warehouse starts busting out at the seams courtesy lack of spaces and necessary adjustments. Fulfillment service providers handle the internal affairs by making the warehouses more conducive to work.

Handling Customer Relationships

Customer relationships are important, especially when e-commerce services are concerned. Fulfillment partners allow company owners to track the buyer journeys; therefore allowing them enough time and resources to personalize the service sets. This minimizes the number of complaints and helps improve productivity, almost immediately.

Can we do without Outsourcing Fulfillment Services?

Every fulfillment-specific requirement is usually handled by the 3PL service providers, as a part of an expansive package. However, small businesses usually do not have the financial backbone to invest in a third-party service provider and they usually resort to in-house options for addressing the requirements. If an unbiased consideration is taken into account, a fulfillment service provider with the above mentioned traits is necessary as the absence of the same can cause the sales volume to fluctuate and that too, regularly. Apart from that, companies without innovative fulfillment technologies are bound to experience order errors. In addition to that, an efficient fulfillment partner also eliminates the shipping, processing and product-specific errors.

Companies without reliable 3PL services also lack scalability i.e. the ability to adapt and innovate according to the market sentiments. An efficient fulfillment partner renders scalability to the organizations by streamlining the processes related to packaging, inventory control and shipping.

Why we need to Learn More about Packaging Perishable Commodities ?

Packaging perishable items is a practice that’s driven by convenience, sustainability and product quality. Therefore, companies dealing with food and beverages need to be careful about their packaging standards, precisely for maintaining the quality of products and customers satisfaction levels. Moreover, with the evolving regulatory practices on-board, it becomes all the more important for the companies to abide by the pressing guidelines and offer packaging options that are sustainable and can improve productivity.

Why Food and Beverage Packaging needs to be prioritized?

The food and beverage industry boasts of perishable products and therefore, the packaging techniques for these entities must be different from the conventional ones. Companies packing food items and beverages must look to contain the products in an adequate manner, without changing the consistency of the same. Apart from that, the packaging options must be immune to any kind of mechanical damage. For aerated drinks and other forms of beverages, air tight containers are preferred; precisely for keeping external gases and contaminations at bay. In addition to all that, food packaging must be carefully selected in order to avoid physical and biological degradation of the sheltered stuff. Lastly, accurate product identification is another criterion for the concerned businesses and customers.

Enlisting the Varied Aspects of Packaging

The technical aspects of food and beverage packaging primarily involves two macro-functions i.e. logistics and marketing. While the former aims at protecting the product from physical damages, the aspect of marketing adds certain value to merchandise by concentrating more on vehicle condition and product preservation.

If we were to further segregate these aspects, containment shows up as the most prior requirement. This industrial prerequisite determines the quality of packaging, pertaining to each and every product. The next determinant involves preservation and protection of the concerned merchandise. Information is yet another aspect of industrial packaging as food products and beverages need to furnish every detail regarding the substances and quality on offer.

The Concept of Environmental Sustainability

Needless to say, the underlining concept of product packaging aims at preserving and protecting the concerned food item. However, unlike other products, food-specific entities need to abide by certain rules and regulations that focus primarily on environmental sustainability. Majority of users throw away the packaging materials shipped alongside food and beverages and therefore companies must focus on the biodegradability quotient. Companies offering similar services must look to abide by the basics of recycling and disposal before sending out shipments with food and beverages in them.

Packaging Metrics Explained

Packaging isn’t a random thing but requires a lot of planning. Before starting off with a plan, companies need to analyze a few factors and proceed with the same.

1.       Companies usually start off with material selection as food and beverages cannot be shipped in usual containers. Depending upon the market, companies should focus on hygiene and quality of the materials used for packaging the concerned commodities.

2.       The packaging design is also important when it comes to shipping out food and beverages. Companies must take into consideration that these commodities have limited shelf life and therefore the designs are bound to get complicated, in order to satiate specific requirements.

3.       Once the material and designing aspects are out of the way, companies must start focusing on the consumer choices i.e. their preferences regarding the packaging options. Certain stores offering food and beverages have options for the customers to choose from. The size of the container, at times, is based on the discretion of the customers.

4.       Transportation is also an important criterion for businesses dealing with food and beverages. Companies must readily pair up with firms that are prudent and can deliver products on time.

5.       Another factor that needs to be taken into account is the end-of-life for the packaging material. Every container that covers up the commodity has a specific shelf life, similar to that of the latter.

Inference

The food and beverage industry is completely dependent on bankable packaging solutions. However, unlike traditional ecommerce items, these commodities need to be packed and shipped with additional care. Moreover, businesses must also understand the fact that these are primarily perishable items and there must be a targeted model for making the most of the packaging strategies.

E-Commerce Fulfillment Trends in 2018

Let’s be honest about the fact that 2017 has been a pretty good year for e-commerce fulfillment. While businesses were pleasantly surprised by the innovation and speed of technological implementations, several startups benefited from these changes. However, it would only be appropriate to take a look at 2018 and what expectations the entire supply chain industry can have from the same. The current year started on a few positive notes and it wouldn’t be wrong to be optimistic regarding the upcoming trends. Moreover, we should take a note of the fact that ecommerce fulfillment trends do not change every year but extrapolate with each passing day. This means, it wouldn’t be advisable to look only at 2018 but to concentrate on a more expansive analysis.

Looking at the E-Commerce Challenges

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that trends also signify the lingering challenges associated with ecommerce fulfillment. Majority of these challenges are inventory and warehouse specific loopholes, ably assisted by a host of other micro effects. Ecommerce fulfillment, therefore, specifically focuses on the aspects of shipping and product deliveries while offering the best possible combinations to the customers.

2018 will see a Change in how Fulfillment is perceived

Ecommerce fulfillment has already started spreading out in multiple directions. The Omnichannel visibility combines the likes of drop shipping, warehousing and other necessary avenues. In addition to that, majority of fulfillment service providers are pairing up with 3PL companies for creating an elite network of clients. What sounds optimistic is that fulfillment partners are increasingly establishing accountability for every supply chain metric. Be it covering the shipping damages, packaging essentials or the last mile considerations; fulfillment partners in 2018 are concentrating on the holistic aspects of supply chain management.

Shipping Costs to Rise

Those who are expecting the shipping costs to cap out are certainly in for a disappointment. While fulfillment service providers will start looking into the basics of retailing and packaging, the shipping costs in 2018 are expected to shoot up. The customer satisfaction levels, therefore, won’t be compromised on.

Warehouses will keep getting Makeovers

Although the sky high prices won’t cease from existing, the concerned warehouses will start getting makeovers they deserve. Majority of fulfillment partners and retailers will start readdressing their warehouses in 2018 for necessary improvements. The emphasis will therefore be on eliminating the inadequacies and identifying the key areas for improving the existing frameworks. Moreover, it’s only fitting that fulfillment centers keep checking the size and spread of the warehouses for accommodating bulky materials.

Better Branding and Customer Experiences

Getting up close and personal with a brand will be easier in 2018 as fulfillment partners will do majority of the work. With online shoppers getting a cohesive platform for comparing prices, delivery rates and discount codes— customers will be getting all the advantages. Brands will start paying heed to customer sentiments and the shipping strategies will be way more user-friendly as compared to the existing ones. The best thing which fulfillment partners are expected to achieve in 2018 is higher degrees of personalization. This concept will include better at-home deliveries and even higher levels of packaging.

Intensified Labor Pressure

This variable is likely to get squeezed between other fulfillment metrics. While the requirements are amplifying at an alarming rate, there is definitely a lack of skilled labor. Although companies are setting up warehouses with scalable automation at the fore, the pressure for procuring skilled labor is intensifying with each passing day.

Better Delivery Options

While shipping and packaging are some of the important facets leading towards product fulfillment, it’s actually the delivery options that determine the efficacy of the last mile solutions. In 2018, fulfillment partners will start focusing more rural deliveries and innovations concerning in-home deliveries. Newer techniques for delivering products will start showing up in 2018 with the focus being on customer satisfaction and readiness. While the concept of nominated deliveries is fast catching up, it needs to improve further in order to make some more sense. Majority of retailers with dedicated fulfillment services are slowly but steadily concentrating on delayed shipping options for allowing the customer to save money.

E-commerce fulfillment solutions will keep evolving with time. However, 2018 is only a stepping stone for the service providers to achieve fulfillment perfection. Customers must understand that prices might go up in certain cases but the overall satisfaction levels will keep improving.

Benefits of a Transportation Management System

Companies dependent on retail chains and ecommerce solutions usually deploy TMS or Transportation Management Systems for simplifying certain fulfillment based tasks. A functional TMS plan is highly beneficial to businesses as it allows them to transport products in a very cost-effective manner. In addition to that, Transportation Management System also involves intermodal freight movements, comprising of inbound, outbound, domestic, international and commercial shipments. The best thing about TMS is that it can seamlessly function with the concerned company or even with an outsourced fulfillment or logistics partner.

Why Companies are Emphasizing on TMS Solutions?

TMS or Transportation Management System is the only supply chain tool that reduces additional freight costs. Having this strategy on-board helps organizations immensely as they can pair up logistics with functional analytics and optimization techniques. TMS solutions work way better than some of the more conventional supply chain management techniques and in the subsequent sections, we shall enlist some benefits which set them apart from the usual ones.

Better Customer Satisfactions Levels

Improved Warehouse Efficiency

While some might argue that a transportation management system has nothing to do with warehouse management, there is a direct correlation between the two. With a functional TMS solution on-board, companies can quickly dispatch the shipments; thereby saving a lot of time for performing warehouse duties. Moreover, with the TMS module integrated alongside the ERP, data entry issues and associated errors can be readily avoided. In a nutshell, TMS and WMS work together for improving the efficiency of the concerned supply chain framework. The inadequacies are duly minimized followed by higher levels of cost savings.

 

Better Delivery Options

Transportation Management System helps optimize the shipping techniques of the companies; thereby offering a host of exciting fulfillment options to the customers. Be it the inbound shipping programs or the pool-point shipping ideas, having a robust TMS module can open a door of opportunities for the customers. In addition to that, this approach to shipping and fulfillment also covers multiple locations and serves as a precursor to the Omni-channel customer experience. Lastly, one person with remote access can easily manage the entire delivery schema for multiple networks.

Reduction in Inventory

Organizations dealing with surplus inventory issues are best served by a TMS module on-board.  As companies can now ship products at a faster rate, it becomes easier for them to plan out the stocks in a better manner. This eventually minimizes the issues related to surplus stocks and can help businesses improve productivity.

Improved Cash Flow

Needless to say, a functional transport management system can also help an organization improve the overall cash flow. With freight accounting made easy, improved cash flow is something businesses can expect going into the future. Moreover, a TMS module offers a leeway to the shippers as they can now save a lot of money by tweaking the structure of inbound logistics. For those who are interested in facts and figures, companies can easily save something in the ballpark of 2 to 5 percent by cutting out duplicate payments, inaccurate charges and other logistical pitfalls.

Advanced Analytics

While we have addressed this aspect in some of the previous sections, it’s only appropriate to discuss more about the analytical side of transport management system. The associated analytics identify low-cost shipping options for businesses; thereby helping companies save a lot of money. Moreover, with shippers having fewer issues to worry about, the entire management team can concentrate more on warehouse and inventory control.

Inference

Over the past few years, it has become easier to implementing TMS solutions to the entire process of warehousing, fulfillment and inventory control. The best part about using this business strategy is the backhaul support and consolidation opportunities where companies can save a lot of additional costs without having to compromise on customer satisfaction levels. What makes most sense is to link a robust TMS module with a highly efficient warehouse management system. While this promotes better visibility of the entire supply chain, it can actually improve the process of inventory forecasting and minimize the data-specific errors.

Decoding the Basics of Retail Warehousing and Fulfillment

The retail industry is getting hugely benefited by ecommerce and major ripples are being felt by the concerned supply chain management systems. With the entire retail ecosystem getting updated, it’s only fitting that businesses start focusing more on warehousing and fulfillment solutions for skyrocketing productivity. Moreover, the retail ecosystem is also witnessing a paradigm shift with companies increasingly focusing on an Omni-Channel customer experience. In addition to that, increased focus on decentralized fulfillment and distributed warehousing solutions are some of the potent strategies which the retail industry is integrating within its framework.

Addressing the Concept of Retail Warehousing

Customers within the retail industry prefer availing their products from random channels without having to wait for the stock to arrive at specific locations. If the logistical aspect is concerned, the retail industry primarily requires an agile and dynamic warehousing plan to thrive. Inefficient logistics can cause some serious damage to productivity and reputation of a retail chain and it’s important that distributed warehousing becomes a norm in this sector.

However, it is important to get well versed with this concept before looking in to the technical details. Distributed warehousing solutions help customers by fulfilling their requirements without making them dependent on the store inventory. Unlike the traditional warehousing techniques where the stock needs to be picked up from the warehouses in case there is a demand at the stores, distributed warehousing allows fulfillment from almost anywhere.

While distributed warehousing is a highly innovative concept, its implementation within the retail sector requires higher levels of expertise. Majority of retail stores aren’t capable of handling critical ecommerce orders and therefore using them as portable warehouses, isn’t the best possible solution. In addition to that, stores managing fulfillment via distributed warehousing must also have the technological expertise to make things happen. Deploying a fully functional distributed warehousing module takes time and requires the concerned retailer to opt for BOT solutions.

Advantages of Distributed Warehousing in Retail

Now when we have addressed the premise and underlining issues related to Distributed Warehousing, it’s important to enlist the benefits of the same, especially for the retail sector. An efficient strategy minimizes the overall freight costs and renders higher levels of controllability to the shipments. The ecommerce landscape associated with retail can be improved with functional warehousing strategies on-board. Moreover, majority of sales occur online and Distributed Warehousing takes performance and productivity to a whole new level. One such example would be the aspect of same day shipping, adopted by some leading online retail chains. This innovation is possible only with functional warehousing techniques added into the scheme of things.

Fulfillment Solutions for the Retail Industry

While retail stores with sufficient levels of technological expertise can be used for addressing the warehousing requirements, the retail industry needs to be way more selective regarding the fulfillment solutions. Having a multi-channel partner for handling the fulfillment requirements is important, especially for the retail sector. Some of the important aspects which need to be taken care of include:

1.       Excellent Inventory Management

The fulfillment partners must be proactive and look to address the aspects of inventory management. While warehousing is a completely separate section, modern day fulfillment service providers are trained to handle certain aspects of the same. Inventory management, however, looks to maintain order accuracy by offering real-time stock monitoring.

2.       Seasonal Demands Covered

An exceptional fulfillment partner stays on top of the demands and helps improve the overall structure of a retail management plan. This includes accommodating periods of massive order volumes.

3.       Reporting Capabilities

An efficient fulfillment strategy is also capable of sending out real-time reports regarding the granular, retail-specific insights. This aspect is highly resourceful when it comes to adapting and even improving the varied warehouse processes.

Benefits of Omni-Channel Fulfillment Strategies

Fulfillment strategies pertaining to retail can improve the revenue model of an organization. In addition to that, warehouse productivity also gets a boost as the shipped inventory reaches the concerned customer base, without fail. Customer satisfaction levels increase and the brand perception also gets a much required boost.

Inference

The retail industry is evolving constantly and businesses can be seen emphasizing on the aspects of warehousing and fulfillment for improving their chance of growth, better sales and improved productivity.

Best Ideas for Formulating an Excellent Logistics Optimization Process

When it comes to handling logistics, management is certainly the key. Moreover, an efficient supply chain management framework thrives on perfect coordination and automation— arguably the most prior aspects of logistics management. Apart from that, businesses are increasingly concentrating on network optimization alongside logistics management and following certain tried and tested strategies for achieving desired results. Last but not the least, most of these strategies are aimed towards streamlining the entire process of logistics planning and improvising the associated processes.

Proper Planning is Important

Businesses must understand that initial planning encapsulates every other factor associated with logistics management. Be it looking at the product procurement, product deliveries or storage facilities; planning covers every industrial parameter and helps organizations devise concerned flowcharts. Moreover, the entire purpose of planning is to improve productivity and therefore the former can be considered as an essential logistical tool. The entire hierarchy of a pre-planned approach involves the products, organizational issues, and even transportation worries. In addition to all that, planning also encompasses the contingencies in case of logistics failure.

Automation is the Key

When it comes to enlisting the nooks and crannies of a logistics management plan, automation comes across as an indispensable tool. While automation improves the efficiency of the entire organization, it also plays a vital role in the optimizing the business processes. Deploying an automated strategy helps enterprises keep a track of dispatched goods, warehouse storage options, and even delivery options. This, in turn, saves a lot of time and money while improving the accuracy associated with logistics management.

Managing the Warehouse

Logistics management feels incomplete without discussing about warehouse management. However, the way organizations plan out the latter entirely depends on the type of inventory. While perishable goods require drier warehouses, dairy and similar entities can be stored best in warehouses with excellent refrigeration facilities. Another warehouse-specific strategy would be to increase the overall storage capacity by adding columns, if necessary. Businesses can further automate the inventory storage process by opting for smart warehousing options. Last but not the least, training the warehouse staff is also a prerequisite.

Concentrating on Transportation

An efficient transportation strategy is essential when it comes to drafting a functional logistics management plan. Businesses must look to improve the transportation facilities; thereby decreasing the hassles associated with untimely deliveries. Additionally, an efficient transportation strategy helps determine the best route for product delivery followed by cost-effective and viable packaging options.

Valuing Relationships

Every logistics management plan needs a team to function properly. However, a synergized approach to team building is possible only if companies invest properly in employee training and workshops. Apart from that, logistics management also requires excellent interpersonal skills within the organization followed by higher levels of employee satisfaction. All these factors are taken into consideration if businesses value their relationships with employees and the concerned staff.

Measuring and Improvising Options

Integrating measurement is essential while drafting a logistics management plan. Measuring the extent of network optimization is important when it comes to analyzing the state of improvement. This helps the organization gather valuable feedbacks. Companies must get hold of excellent software and measurement tools for determining the genuineness of the available information. Once the information is leveraged for improvising the existing strategies, it all comes down to planning the subsequent logistics management steps. This involves analyzing service, cost and cycle metrics while keeping the eyes open for genuine feedbacks.

Inference

Trumping over the competitors isn’t easy and it would take an excellent logistics management plan to achieve extraordinary results. Firstly, organizations must adopt latest technological innovations, going into the future. In addition to that, they must aim towards increasing efficiency of their operations thereby ensuring higher levels of customer satisfaction. Moreover, it is the process optimization that helps companies draft efficient logistics management plans in this extremely competitive arena. Adding to all these, it is a well-known fact that majority of organizations are actually struggling when it comes to incorporating the mentioned strategies for the purpose of creating an efficient logistics management plan. However, the enlisted ideas are quite easy to implement and must assist any organization when it comes to the logistical network optimization.

warehouse smart

Benefits of using Smart Warehousing Technology

Warehouses are integral and essential entrepreneurial commandments that allow enterprises to store the associated inventory in a highly secured environment. With ecommerce slowly becoming a reality, the onus is now on the business to store their products safely before the big dispatch; thereby making sure that customers get exactly what they paid for. Moreover, with technological advancements assisting the logistical arena, warehouses have now evolved into indispensable business tools instead of being considered as simple storage facilities.

The latest industrial buzzword, however, is smart-warehousing which efficiently connects the basics of warehouse management with smarter technologies; thereby revolutionizing the entire concept of inventory management and e-commerce business.

Deciphering Smart Warehousing

The basic layout of a smart warehouse involves the addition of computing prowess, specifically for automating certain processes. Smart warehousing, therefore, can be regarded as a process where the entire storage facility comes equipped with the likes of bar code scanners and automated management techniques. The associated inventory is skillfully stored and managed as smart warehousing brings forth the underlining concepts of IoT and diverse RFID solutions. Moreover, there are certain Smart warehouses that even have location trackers, allowing businesses to trace dispatches, regardless of their positions.

Why Should Businesses go for Smart Warehousing?

While traditional warehouses can save a lot of money, the smart ones are better equipped when it comes to managing the inventory in a more efficient manner. That said, smart warehousing technology is quite expensive as compared to the traditional ideas but their benefits clearly outweigh the existing cons. Smart warehousing perfectly leverages the supply chain technology and even pairs the same with Internet of Things; thereby boosting the efficiency of the entire storage hub.

1.      Enabling Smart Contracts

One of the most essential traits of using a Smart warehouse happens to be the advent of smart contracts. Every detail regarding the inventory gets updated and recorded online; thereby simplifying the overall process of storage and management. Business can therefore manage the financing arrangement of the inventory is a more seamless manner while abiding by the Inventory Financing Agreement. Unlike a conventional warehouse that is incapable of keeping a digitized record of sales, Smart Warehouses can easily keep tabs of the dispatched inventory courtesy the flexibility of smart contracts.

IFA, therefore, is a typical example of smart contract which is validated by Smart Warehousing technology. Every tabulation process is exceedingly transparent with this technology on-board. Lastly, the associated records cannot be deleted with Smart warehousing technologies on-board. Apart from that, businesses can make the best use of location tags and implement blockchain technology on their existing inventory management plan.

2.      Increased Accuracy

Another exemplary benefit of smart warehousing is the increased levels of accuracy on offer. In most cases, smart warehouses come forth with automated technologies which eventually minimize human labor. Inventory owners can deploy automated technologies for minimizing the risk associated with product damages. Moreover, automation minimizes the human errors and amplifies the efficiency of the concerned warehouse. In most cases, ecommerce logistics fail to deliver products on time courtesy the existence of inefficient inventory processing techniques. While manual management techniques are bound to be erroneous and time-consuming, automation can quickly dissolve this issue by speeding up the existing processes like shipping and packing.                                                                    

3.      Better Tracking Options

As mentioned, Smart Warehouses are usually equipped with latest technologies, making them highly resourceful and functional. The likes of integrated sensors, RFID tags and even devices are paired with the inventory essentials for improving the efficiency of systems. The involvement of Internet of Things further improves productivity as businesses can now access information without being restricted to the workstations. Smart Warehousing also improves shipping accuracy and offers unparalleled visibility into supply chains and inventories.

Inference

Warehousing has come a long way since its inception. At present, majority of organizations are embracing smart warehousing as a part of their functioning. This technology is further bolstered by the inclusion of IoT and IoE or Internet of Everything. While certain organizations are still facing execution challenges, it’s all about handling the basics of warehouse control, warehouse management and building automation systems associated with the concerned organizations. Last but not the least, every smart warehouse must perfectly combine smart systems with legacy alternatives; thereby getting hold of multiple connectivity schemes. It needs to be understood that Smart warehousing, in association with IoT can easily minimize the existing costs and speed up the processes leading towards product remittance.

3PL shipment

Size and Weight of shipment can determine your choice of 3PL Company

3PL or Third-party logistics signifies companies that offer a comprehensive selection of outsourced benefits to industries, inclusive of warehousing and transportation services. While the scope of 3PL companies has evolved with time, there are several industries that make selections based on the size and weight of the concerned shipment. Moreover, the dimensions of shipments determine the transportation and warehousing flexibilities as these are still the basics metrics against which a 3PL company is evaluated.

Evaluating the Transportation Requirements based on Shipment Size and Weight

A third party logistics company outsources transportation based on the carriers and fleet consolidation requirements. With the likes of freight claims, freight auditing and cargo insurance being considered important by the industries, it is the responsibility of 3PL companies to segregate services according to the weight and size of the shipment. It is important to understand that every 3PL service provider comes across with an operational profile, depending upon the organizational requirements. However, there are two specific types of shipping practices which eventually determine the transportation strategies used by the concerned 3PL company.

The LTL Shipping Technique

Based on the size and weight of the concerned freight, industries often select a suitable third party logistics company. For shipping smaller and lighter commodities, LTL or rather Less that Truckload concept is followed. The underlining principle of LTL shipping is that the goods are way too large to be sent across as separate parcels but also way too small to fit in as the entire truckload. Therefore, smaller shipments need to be transported via 3PL companies that offer LTL services as some service providers often charge for the entire container even if the shipment fills less than half of the volume. Apart from hiring LTL-centric 3PL companies, industries can also look for service providers that offer discounts on LTL shipments provided they are incapable of filling up the allotted spaces. In cases like these, the 3PL companies fit in some other goods, likely to be off-loaded during the course.

When it comes to analyzing the LTL shipping process, the carriers collect commodities from shippers before consolidating the same across trailers and concerned trucks. While line-hauling is an essential part of the process, there are times when the freight gets sorted mid-way and consolidation happens at certain local destinations. Drivers usually defer unloading by a day and make new pickups when the carriers are empty.

Freight density is one metric which determines the deployment of a 3PL vendor. Certain companies offering LTL shipping services predefine rates according to shipment density. Classifying freights according to the density requires companies to calculate the shipment and pallet weight and divide the same according to the volume. In preferred cases, higher product density results in lower shipment costs.

Apart from the product density, distance is also a major factor that determines the shipping rates and even the nature of the hired 3PL companies. In addition to that, FAK or Freight All Kinds service is something that LTL companies specialize in. Lastly, 3PL vendors offering LTL shipping services usually swear by the concept of ‘Minimums’. This aspect determines the minimum shipment cost for a particular company below which a service provider would reject the proposal. In most cases, carriers offering LTL shipping facilities hike the minimum shipping rate by 2 to 3 percent, annually.

FTL Shipping: Shipping Homogeneous Cargo

Probably the simplest approach to assessing carrier shipping, FTL or Full Truck Load technique requires an organization to hire the entire trailer or container for transporting the freight. Moreover, the FTL shipment is never handled along the route and doesn’t involve transfers, sorting and even repackages. These shipments are handled by drivers which have a fixed timeline of work. In addition to that, FTL packages usually move at a fixed rate.

When it comes to analyzing the FTL shipping techniques, the concerned freight is first loaded onto specific crates and then delivered across destinations.

Inference

When it comes to assessing the services offered by third-party logistics, LTL and FTL shipping techniques come forth as the most comprehensive ones. Moreover, industries prefer brainstorming before zeroing in on the perfect 3PL company based on the dimensions and weight of the freight. While the weight is probably the second most important factor, size or rather the density of the commodity determines the kind of carrier required to ship the same.

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.