7 Ideas to Amplify Workforce Efficiency Levels for a Warehouse

Maximizing warehouse efficiency improves organizational profitability and enterprises are slowly but steadily realizing the same. However, it isn’t easy to immediately improve the efficiency levels of the concerned workforce and it takes quite a lot of effort to ensure that the warehouses are functioning at the most optimized levels. Moreover, managers placed at the distribution centers can easily gauge the fact that every warehouse process isn’t executed optimally courtesy lack of proper planning, strategy allocation and resources. Therefore, it is important to improve the overall efficiency of the existing warehouse by putting certain intuitive approaches to use.

Prioritize Log Processing

One aspect of improving warehouse workforce efficiency is to concentrate more on log processing by prioritizing inventory tracking and other documented approaches. Companies that can keep a track of the error rates and other insights are best placed when it comes to improving productivity. Tabulating changes in training procedures, adopting newer technologies and including new workers are some of the strategies which can effortlessly optimize the existing workforce efficiency levels. Log processing, therefore, allows companies to adopt and analyze the ramifications from a proactive point of view while gaining important insights regarding the existing loopholes.

Reinforce Accountability

There are times when automation within the warehouse leads to certain errors in packing, picking and fulfillment. Although, automation as a strategy cannot be ignored, warehouse efficiency can only be improved if the companies hold the workers accountable for the mistakes. Reinforcing warehouse accountability readily emphasizes on accuracy and helps the industries fix and avoid errors in the long run.

Stress on Proper Communication

It is important for the companies and warehouse managers to communicate strategically with the workers, in order to keep them invested in the cause. Be it communicating regarding productivity or supply chain processes, one way of improving warehouse efficiency is to create a sense of understanding between the management and warehouse employees. This approach accentuates the efficacy of problem solving by building a unified bridge of understanding.

Empower the Workforce

Although we did mention a few strategies for improving the workforce efficiency, empowering the same is one option that can pay rich dividends. This strategy implies at focusing on the core skills of the individuals while exhibiting confidence on their potency. Empowering the workforce with special technologies and undeterred confidence is one way of keeping the employees interested.

Develop Procedures and Standards

Reducing errors is important when it comes to improving the efficiency of the warehouse workforce. One way of achieving perfection is to create a pre-defined procedural module pertaining to the developmental standards. Warehouse managers should focus on reducing probable variations while concentrating more of the aspects of shipping, shift scheduling and quality control. Moreover, it is important to focus on the facilities management; thereby increasing collective productivity and improving warehouse efficiency.

Adopt Process Improvement as a Continual Strategy

Warehouse managers must opt for continual process improvement as it allows them to initiate similar processes via diverse techniques. This way, warehouses can zero in on the best strategy for a particular job that can help them save money, effort and time. That said, an approach like this allows companies to evaluate the existing procedures while adopting necessary changes. Be it looking at the inventory management process or the staffing requirements, process improvement is something that can amplify productivity and help an organization identify the necessary areas that require attention.

Outsource Services

In addition to every other trick in the book, companies can opt for outsourcing certain warehouse processes for gaining an advantage. There are certain aspects of warehousing that require additional levels of intuition and hiring a 3PL service provider can come in handy for the enterprises. This flexibility allows companies to design, implement, and manage specific warehouse activities without having to worry about additional tasks.

Inference

Warehouse workforce efficiency can be a limiting factor when it comes to the growth and profitability of an organization. Therefore, companies must be vigilant about the same and should look to implement the mentioned strategies for gaining an edge over the competitors. However, there are many who believe that investing in new technological ideas can easily improve workforce efficiency. While technology can be one of the precursors, it’s definitely not the only requirement. Evaluating the existing warehouse practices and fine-tuning them should be the primary concerns for the companies when it comes to amplifying workforce efficiency levels.

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.

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.

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.

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!

 

 

Inventory Management

The Basics of Inventory Management: Warehousing, Picking, Packing and Shipping

Small businesses need to understand a simple strategy that concerns establishing coherence between customer demands and the existing supplies. More often than not, startups and even medium-sized enterprises fall short of resources— which in turn sabotages their credibility. While manufacturing is never really an issue with technological innovations at the helm, it is the product distribution that takes a beating.

 

Major issues include inadequacies related to product picking, packing and shipping. In addition to that, certain businesses also find it hard to store their products in an efficient manner. However, if businesses continue worrying about these aspects of inventory management, it becomes hard for them to grow and even outrun the competition. Moreover, delayed shipments can easily kill off the customer satisfaction levels with companies failing to deliver products on time.

 

There are several firms which readily outsource the pick and pack services— in order to save time and even overhead costs. Pick and Pack warehousing is a comparatively newer aspect that combines the essentials of product storage with excellent shipping services. Companies that worry about storing their products in a secured environment are better off hiring 3PL service providers which emphasize on Pick and Pack warehousing. While it easily mitigates the storage constraints, a host of other benefits are also available for businesses to leverage.

 

Meeting Customer Demands

 

Having specialized warehousing services at the helm can help enterprises meet varied customer requirements. Once a business starts blossoming and growing rapidly, it becomes important to stay on track with the persistent user preferences. This is where outsourcing comes in handy, especially by offering excellent Pick and Pack storage and distribution services to the concerned organizations.

 

Fulfilling the Storage Requirements

 

Before we delve any deeper into the basics of Pick and Pack services, it is important to understand the influence of outsourcing in regards to handling the storage needs. Manufacturing industries usually need to ship extensively and having a restricted storage space can actually slow them down. While it is always possible to hire specialized warehousing services, most companies look for cohesive options that can cover multiple bases. Having one logistics company handle the basics of storage, picking, packing and shipping can be the best possible option when the manufacturer is looking to minimize the costs.

 

Efficient, off-site warehousing is one aspect of this cohesive program that allows an enterprise to manage inventory without opting for contract or distribution warehouses. Online warehouse management is also possible. Unlike other warehouses that solely offer storage options, facilities synonymous to the Pick and Pack management believe in dispatching the products, almost instantly. To be exact, enterprises can enjoy the benefits of a dynamic storage system where products aren’t dumped for an eternity but are expedited immediately.

 

Understanding Picking and Packing Better

 

Unlike conventional warehouses that offer storage facilities, managerial flexibilities and a host of other features, enterprises relying on Pick and Pack services are best served when it comes to the holistic catalogue of services. These include a variety of Inbound and Outbound services, dedicated towards amplifying the revenues and serving the customers better.

The best part about using Pick and Pack Distribution is that a shared warehouse can serve the purpose for multiple organizations. The products are then immediately packed and distributed to the concerned customer base. As we could already infer from the discussion, this form of inventory management is affordable and exceedingly cost-effective. With small businesses using Pick and Pack services rather extensively, the popularity seems to be validated.

 

In addition to that, outsourced pick and pack services also assist manufacturers with their inventory solutions. Firstly, the designed warehouses managed by these specialized 3PL service providers are organized and extremely efficient. Apart from that, they offer advanced inventory management solutions like stock replenishment and necessary intimations. As the part of a holistic cycle, these solutions also involve picking up manufactured products from the companies, storing them in bespoke warehouses, packing them accordingly and finally, shipping them across multiple channels.

 

Bottom-Line

 

An inventory-specific business model requires higher levels of cohesion between warehousing, packaging and distribution. While hiring a 3rd party fulfillment service for the specifics is a good option, pick and pack service providers are actually best suited for a retail-specific business. This form of inventory management works wonders for small to medium business owners, thereby helping them save additional costs and efforts.

 

 

Warehouse Distribution , Logistics 3PL

How Distribution Warehousing via 3PL Services Improve the Market Conditions?

Enterprises focusing solely on the retail sector usually have a lot of things to worry about. While direct sales can be initiated via contract and owned warehouses, certain companies prefer third party logistics companies for distributing their products, in an efficient manner. The concept of Distribution Warehouse takes us back to the time when product distribution used to happen via retail outlets. Manufacturers would first assemble or create a product and then send over the same to shops for retail purposes. However, with a massive increase in product volume and amplified online exposure, it became imperative for the manufacturers to opt for a second line of defense.

Distribution Warehouse signifies a facility that is dedicated towards storing manufacturer’s product before the same is packed and distributed to the retail customers. The concept of Distribution warehouse actually brings the distributor into the picture, in addition to the manufacturer and customer. Not just product distribution, these warehouses also assist companies with pick & pack and efficient order fulfillment.

How Holistic is a Distribution Warehouse?

Unlike a logistics company that offers warehouses for sale and even on lease, a distribution warehouse is the brainchild of product distributors who act as the connecting link between manufacturers and retail customers. However, when it comes to reaping the benefits, every section of the sales funnel is taken into account.

For the manufacturers, distribution warehouse is a blessing in disguise. While the profit share gets compromised to a certain extent with distributors taking their cut, the flexibility on offer certainly outweighs this minor pitfall. These warehouses have also improved the market condition for third party distributors as they are the ones who invest money, workforce and time in order to amplify the storage options for manufacturers.

The last cog in this retail-centric wheel happens to be the retail outlets. With distribution warehouses supplying products to the offline and online retail stores, the credibility quotient is always maintained. The retail stores directly place product requirements and requests to these warehouses and stocks are released upon the availability.

Therefore, a distribution warehouse impacts every part of the sales funnel and comes forth as an integral part of the overall, entrepreneurial logistics arrangement.

Advantages on Offer

Distribution warehouses actually cut the clutter and simply things for the manufacturers and customers alike. Put simply, a product goes straight into a warehouse after it’s manufactured. The workers, synonymous to the distribution warehouse, pack and expedite the products via reliable courier services. Not just the mentioned perk but a distribution warehouse usually has a host of functional advantages.

  1. Timeliness

It is the duty of distributors to pack and dispatch products to customers and even select offline retailers. Most of these facilities are equipped with warehouse storage systems which keep a track of products and their desired dispatch points. Overall, the distribution warehouse offers a cohesive outlook to how the products are stored and how they need to be dispatched. This organized approach saves a lot of effort and even time— especially when the workers are concerned.

  1. Budget Friendliness
Cost friendly Logistics
Forklift with cardboxes on calculator. Calculation of shipping delivery costs concept. 3d illustration

The best part of having a distribution warehouse is that products are stored in a secured environment. Be it inclement weather conditions or the influx of rodents, a properly managed distribution warehouse is probably the best possible solution for storing the manufactured goods. This eventually cuts additional costs and the retail chains get the products in the best possible condition. Specialized packing and management services within the warehouse help amplify the revenue generation process. Be it temperature-specific storage units or something on the lines of a cold storage system— a distribution warehouse is loaded with technological innovations, precisely for preserving the condition and quality of products. This approach minimizes product damages and therefore reduces additional overhead costs.

  1. Reliability

More than the sales figures, it is the peace of mind that excites a manufacturer. While sending out products for retail purposes is quite a taxing job, distribution warehouses simplify things for the manufacturers. Since the products are sheltered in an organized and secured place, manufacturers are well assured that their business will move forward.

Bottom-Line

A distribution warehouse is probably the most important link between demand and supply chain management. Moreover, with an increase in the number of manufactures and retail products, it literally becomes inevitable to have a storage facility solely dedicated towards distribution. However, warehouse safety and management standards must also be looked at before moving ahead with any 3PL service provider.

 

 

 

Warehouse, Dragging

Ownership vs. Contract Warehouse: Why to Choose the Latter?

Owning a warehouse surely has its share of advantages. However, startups and small business owners often find it hard to keep up with the soaring market costs and therefore owning an entire facility can eventually sabotage their growth. In addition to that, purchasing or even availing a facility comes with its own set of obligations— which often overshadows the benefits.

 

The best answer to ownership is a Contract Warehouse. Companies must eventually realize that ownership restricts them to a predefined area. Be it the cold facilities or an operational area involving dry products, everything about a commercially owned warehouse is trickier than usual. Owned facilities often push companies to their limits, especially when it comes to maintaining stocks at the peak. This is where contract warehouses come to the fore as they allow companies to breathe easily, even when there is a gap between demand and supply or vice versa.

 

Apart from that, businesses usually have a lot of warehousing options at their disposal, depending upon the size and scale of operations. While some organizations prefer maintain their own spaces, there are certain firm which prefer leased facilities. However, nothing beats the effectiveness of a contract warehouse as it is definitely synonymous to lower costs, guaranteed reliability and lower investments.

 

Defining a Contract Warehouse

 

Unlike regular facilities, contract warehouses are easier to work with. They can seamlessly handle the storage and shipping whereabouts of an organization, precisely on a contract basis. However, companies taking the services of a contract warehouse must commit to a periodical timeframe. The tenure, however, depends on the company and concerned service provider. Transactional fee can also be a determinant as contract warehouses usually function under cost-plus or fixed cost revenue models.

 

Associated Benefits

 

  1. Lower Capital Investments and Overhead Costs

 

When it comes to purchasing a space and converting the same into a storage facility, massive costs are involved. Structuring a warehouse according to the requirements of an organization also attracts additional costs. Be it renovating the entire building or purchasing equipment for beefing up the storage space— owning a warehouse can come with a lot of headaches. However, contract facilities usually have predefined zones for product storage. This eliminates the infrastructural costs and therefore excessive capital investments. Apart from that, sections for cold storage, controlled storage and even general storage are already carved out when it comes to a contract warehouse. There are instances when staffing requirements for the entire facility is also handled by the logistics company— as a part of the contract. This in turn, further reduces the incidental expenses related to staff handling and overall maintenance.

 

  1. Minimal Hassles

 

Contract warehouses function in a remarkable and hassle-free manner. Companies hiring similar services are contract bound which in turn protects the same from additional and unexpected expenses. There is a definite lock-in period to look after and this actually safeguards the concerned organization from hassles. Logistics companies associated with these warehouses specify even the minutest of details, including monthly costs, possible changes to the existing prices and even provisions for extending the period of contract. Owned warehouses, on the other hand, are completely controlled by the concerned enterprises. Therefore, it is possible to miss out on several factors— which isn’t the case with a third-party service provider at the helm.

 

  1. Improved Reliability

 

Logistics Companies offering contract warehouses also take care of distribution and packaging. With these useful services covered, organizations need not worry about increasing customer demands. The existing service provider eventually takes care of the goods and other aspects of a storage facility. This approach allows an enterprise to establish long-term ties with the partners and clients, regardless of the timeframe. When it comes to the reliability quotient, nothing beats a contract warehouse. The best part about hiring contractual services is that the company offering the same also helps envision and ascertain the design improvements.

 

Bottom-Line

 

While it’s great to depend on a logistics company for your warehousing requirements, it is the selection that eventually matters in the long run. It is understandable that every service provider wouldn’t offer the same catalogue and set of features and it is equally important to assess the professional requirements of your firm, beforehand. Regardless of the size and stature of a company, it is the right warehouse that makes all the difference when it comes to aspects of storage and distribution. A contract warehouse, therefore, simplifies proceedings for the entrepreneurs— depending upon the service period.

Ecommerce Warehouse

Quick Fixes for Your Biggest Shipping and Fulfilment Problems

Shipping and fulfilment seem easy. All you need to do is stick a label on the ordered product and hand it over to the shipper. It should it delivered to your customer, and world is a happy place. But anyone who has spent any time in the industry knows that it’s anything but that simple. It is one of the key components in the value chain and often can be a nightmare to manage. Imagine thousand of product going out in thousands of different orders in as many combinations, to thousands of locations with multiple shippers. Items will be out of stock, damaged, delayed, returned, sent to wrong addresses and sometimes, despite the best efforts not sent at all. The last one will do most damage to retailer’s reputation especially if he is new to business or has a small business. But all these problems can be handled. Let’s have a look at some of the top issues online businesses have with fulfilment.

 

 

  1. International Fulfilment: With internet the reach of businesses has crossed all oceans. It’s easier than ever before to get an order from across the border. But delivering your product across the border is not as simple as just packing and shipping. International deliveries involve tons of paperwork and rules that must be complied with. There are taxes and customs to be taken care of, which may be different for each country that you ship to. You need to account for extra time taken at the ports, customs and by other government agencies, both, foreign and domestic. But all is not lost. Build a repository of shippers for your most shipped to countries. These shippers should have experience in handling all the paperwork, taxes, customs and should be able to tell you the total cost and times involved, based on the product category. They also should be networked in those agencies and countries that can be leveraged, should a shipment be stuck somewhere. Use their services instead of handling everything on your own. They may charge you a little more for this, but it will save yourself tons of hassle.

 

  1. If you are shipping international, there is a very high likely hood that your product will be shipped in container, on a ship along with many other products, stacked somewhere in between them. This requires extra care while packing. Especially if you need to use ‘freight shipping’. You need to protect your product from damages and delayed shipping. Use durable packing material. This is needed so that products can handle extra stress put on it during international transport through sea. Remember, your box may not end up on the top of the stack and there’s nothing you can do about it. So make your packing extra strong. Use bubble wrap to fill up empty spaces and provide some cushion. Use proper pallets. You shipment should not exceed the weight restrictions of your pallet. The boxes should not be stacked beyond the edge of pallet. Use load protectors to prevent damage from chains, straps and other pallets. Remember, any money you spend on packing, adds to your reputation when product reaches the customer in mint condition, and it has come from abroad!
  2. Customer Trust: This one is a key success factor. If they trust you, they will come back to you and bring their friends and family along. To gain trust, you must reduce errors. Most errors can be attributed to administrative errors. These errors are spread along the supply chain. Wrong product, wrong order, wrong address, wrong delivery (missed delivery time) etc are most common. The error could be small, but may have a large impact. You made a promise to the customer about what he wanted, where he wanted and when he wanted. If you don’t deliver on it, you lose his trust, and potentially the customer too. Train your staff. Make them understand the true cost of errors. Let them understand how a small error can lead to losing customers and harm image of the company. Invest in automation and integrated systems. Correct use of technology can reduce a lot of errors. When the customer calls, be polite. Listen to him. He is calling because he has a problem. The problem is related to your product. Remember, you need the customer while he always has other options (your competitors) to go to.
  3. Customer communication: Once you have received the order, the customer expects the delivery on the right time. But that may be a few days away. Meanwhile, you are working on getting the product from manufacturing, assembling the order, packing the product, shipping and what not to ensure that customer has the delivery when promised. But customer has no communication about it. You should update the customer about status of his order at regular intervals. It could be periodic, or when the order crosses a stage. This is true especially during shipment. Customers like to track their orders. Provide them with tracking number. Make sure that correct shipment tracking code, provided by the shipper, is provided to correct customer. Wrong tracking codes create a lot of confusion when there shouldn’t be one. Test the code before you send it to the customer. It’s a simple thing, just check if the code shows the right address and right customer name.
  4. Stock management: You put up a product on your web store and promised delivery by certain date. You got the order, only to find out that product is out of stock. That is a very tricky situation to be in. Always ensure that you have adequate inventory for each product that you carry. Invest in a good inventory tracking system and automatic ordering system. Integrate your order acceptance system with inventory management system. If an item is not there in the inventory, the order should not be accepted, or at least inform the customer that order will be delayed.
  5. Communication with suppliers: Establish automatic communication lines with your suppliers. The product should be re ordered automatically when the stock quantity falls below a certain level. This is basic. However, it should be done automatically. Your supplier should be able to sense the speed at which your orders are moving and when you will need a refill, and be ready with a refill. Ideally you should never be out of stock for any item.

 

Establishing a fulfilment process with zero errors is impossible. However with careful planning and investment in technology and training, these errors can be reduced to a great extent. In a business world where 99.99% efficiency is not good enough, it is imperative that your processes are well designed to absorb errors before they reach the customer.