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.

3pl, Warehouse, Fulfillment, ecommerce

Do’s and Don’ts before signing up with a 3PL warehouse

Well, your business seems to be growing and you suddenly realize the need to improve your logistics and set up new warehouses to suit the growing demand of your business. But wait, do you really want to set it up all by yourself??? Most Probably, NO! Unless you want to get into hefty investments and hassles of getting a warehouse operational. And trust us, it is a herculean task! So, let’s look at an easy and economically viable solution- Yes, partnering with a 3rd Party Logistics Company and using their warehouse.

A Third Party Logistics provider (3PL) is a company that assists your organization at various points in the supply chain by proving their expert solutions and implementing best practices suited to your need. A good 3PL partner can be your one stop solution to all fulfilment needs. Warehousing is one of the key offerings of a 3PL solution provider and thus must be chosen wisely as it can have huge impact on your revenues and overall business. However, it is not an easy job to find the right Warehousing Partner. Here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you sign up with a 3PL Warehouse. Remember, making un-informed decisions and choosing the wrong logistics partner can be more damaging than beneficial to your business.

Do’s

  • Do Check the Location of the Warehouse –

The location should suit your overall distribution plan and preferably closer to your high consumption area. The closer you are to your high customer density areas, the faster you can reach out to them and create a brand value with splendid customer experience.

  • Do Check the capacity of the warehouse –

The capacity of the selected warehouse should suit your current need as well as quickly scalable up as your business grows. The warehouse supplier should also be flexible enough to manage fluctuations in your demands.

  • Do Keep your needs clear –

Unless you are clear on what you would need from your warehouse partner you may never be able to make the right choice. Being crystal clear on your current and futuristic requirements is an important step in finalizing the 3PL warehouse.

  • Do Check the hiring and training policies of the warehouse provider-

The warehouse manpower is a key aspect to be considered for the success of the warehouse services. Checking the hiring and training policy of the 3PL provider can ensure that your goods will be handled well in the warehouse by skilled manpower.

  • Do Check their financial stability

The last thing you want to suffer from, is your warehouse partner limping on financials and unable to support your business. Checking the service provider’s financial stability in the market and their track record with other customers can assist in making the right choice of 3PL partner.

  • Do Ensure that they prefer technology over manual dependency-

Evaluate the service provider based on their usage of Technology at their warehouse. Do they have a good warehouse management system in place? Is the material handling automated? Does the system give you correct reports of the inventory? Can they offer live Inventory Check? The more they use latest technology and equipment at the warehouse, the more beneficial they will be as your partners.

  • Do Check the Safety Policies and Procedures of the 3PL warehouse supplier-

Safety at the warehouse should be a prime focus are of the service provider. It should be applicable for their employees, managers, floor staff and even the consignments. Visit the warehouse and check for Fire Safety provisions, warning signs and labels and adherence of staff to other safety norms. Evaluating the safety equipment and norms being followed at the Warehouse, right at the start, can go a long way in preventing losses later.

 

Don’ts :

 

  • Don’t go for a provider whose warehouse does not have good connectivity to highways, rails and ports-

Since your shipment time is hugely dependant on proximity to roads, rails and ports, having a partner whose warehouse isn’t close to these may delay your speed to market and have a negative impact on your business. Thus not a very great idea.

  • Don’t Over Analyse –

Restrict your search for a 3PL warehouse to maybe a maximum of 3. If you keep considering more and more options, you may miss on the intricate details that you need to check and focus on before signing a 3PL warehouse partner. Keep your list short and delve deep into evaluating them to identify the partner most suited to your need.

  • Don’t fall into the price Trap –

Certain companies go ahead choosing a 3PL warehouse based solely on the pricing. However, this approach may be quite damaging. While you need your warehouse service supplier to be competitive in pricing and not over-charge you, but what is also essential to check is the quality they will deliver. If the warehouse management does not have the necessary quality processes in place, it is ultimately your business that will suffer.

  • Don’t Rush into signing up-

Take your time. Do a proper due diligence of selected suppliers in accordance to your needs. Check for important things like safety, scalability, flexibility and pricing of the supplier and sign up only when you are fully satisfied. Try to build faith and trust between both the parties at the start. This will go a long way in having a successful and mutually beneficial partnership.