Seasonal Demands in Order Fulfillment

There may be times customer orders pick up throughout the year; however, in general, the fourth quarter is most demanding for a warehouse distribution facility. If you weren’t 100% satisfied with how last year’s peak season went, now is the time to examine your options to ensure you are providing the best solution to keep happy, repeat customers.

Before summer is in full swing, it’s time to figure out what part of your order experience didn’t function well last year and seek to find strategic improvements that are best for your business.

Peak season is a huge challenge for companies like yours, whether you manage it inhouse or have a 3PL that provides your order fulfillment. Effectively meeting the need throughout the year regardless of volume is something not every provider can do well.

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Are You Reluctant to Outsource Fulfillment?

Many business experts say that you should treat such a function as a type of customer service. Do it well, it can have a huge boost for relationship building and growing your brand. Do it poorly, and it doesn’t matter how great your product may be— customers are going to remember that experience when they think of your brand .g dock and then, eventually, to the customer's doorstep, packaging fulfillment is often one of the most overlooked and thereby dysfunctional parts of a business. 

Despite the fact that your fulfillment team has a direct impact on consumer buying behavior and building brand loyalty, it’s likely you’re less concerned about developing a coherent supply chain strategy than you are about creating your next marketing campaign— even if you are pouring a considerable amount of money into operations.

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Advanced Automation is the Key to Optimizing Your Supply Chain

Businesses which fall into the trap of putting too much focus on manufacturing and inventory costs are being held back from their full potential as they fail to acknowledge the inefficiencies arising through weak links in the supply chain.

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3 Tips to Selecting a 3PL Partner

No matter what industry you are in, one thing is clear: your supply chain is essential to your success.

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3 Benchmark Logistics KPIs that are Easy to Achieve

 

Measurements — determining them, changing them, inferring from them — are a backbone of every industry. Whether the measure of success is something as simple as profit, or as complex as reducing the amount of time a product spends during its travels in the supply chain, having the right "ruler" is absolutely crucial. If you're using the wrong logistics KPIs, or endlessly tracking them for a future purpose that never manifests, you're not only wasting company resources — you're paying out an opportunity cost that could actually make a difference in your goal progression. In only three steps, you can clean up your approach to KPIs and maximize the value obtained from each one.

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Finding and Keeping the Best Talent in Your Warehouse

What makes a warehousing and distribution center a standout among its industry peers? Is it great geographical positioning, superior IoT-enabled technology, or it’s beneficial contracts with carriers? The truth is, without the individuals who keep a given warehouse stocked, organized and able to pack and ship at a moment’s notice, it's little more than a very large concrete or metal box, filled with disorganized products. A trustworthy, intelligent employee is worth more, over time, than just about any product or component you could possibly stock.

From learned industry behaviors to innovative thinking, the humans between your shelves are the "brain cells" that keep your warehouse running. Lose too many of those cells, and you lose industry standing and reputation right along with them. Just as tasks like 3PL contract negotiations or making space for new product lines are integral parts of a logistics managers' job, so is the responsibility of attracting and retaining employees. Having too many new employees means a heavy burden of training and newcomer mistakes to contend with — so make sure you get it right the first time, and keep your talent in place. 

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Supply Chain Professionals Don't Have to Dread the Holidays

 

Even if your fulfillment center doesn't have Santa's workload to contend with, they'll still have to work a little holiday magic to keep the upcoming influx of holiday orders. As customers travel and gift-giving timelines become non-negotiable, your supply chain needs to be backed by a strategy that holds up to scrutiny and stress to remain viable. As with most supply chain planning, it's in your best interests to be proactive, not reactive, so here are a few last to-do list items to cross off before ecommerce marches into the busiest weeks of the year. 

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Take Your Warehousing to the Next Level, 7 Tips for Operations Managers

One of the biggest mistakes that a company can make is believing there's no way to improve, especially when it comes to warehouse processes. It's not a stretch to say that continuous improvement is the only surefire way to remain competitive, that standing still essentially means falling behind in the current business arena. Even if your team and facility work amazingly well together, chances are there's at least a few of these seven warehousing and logistics tips you can leverage towards fine-tuning.

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Is Supply Chain Disruption Unavoidable?

It's the nature of the supply chain professionals to feel a need to have contingency plans for their contingency plans and contingency plans for those as well. Designing and implementing a "tight ship" is more than a matter of pre-planning, however: Eventually, something unexpected will happen and even the best supply chain risk mitigation framework will bend in the wake of questions and uncertainty.

Good mitigation practice isn't necessarily about building a ship that's entirely waterproof, it's about knowing what to do and how quickly to do it when it springs a leak. Here's a few of the ways you can add more efficiency into your backup plans:

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The Fulfillment Value Equation

Your fulfillment partners are an integral part of your business, but to consider them a real part of your value chain initiative or support, you need to know what else they can do for your company. In short, their benefits should, whenever possible, become benefits to you as well—whether that be opening proverbial doors, banding together with your buyers for better pricing, or proactively researching and suggesting ways to tighten up your current fulfillment processes. Even in a situation where vendor A offers a better price per unit or service event than vendor B, that "smart bet" on A quickly becomes worthy of scrutiny if B can provide more opportunities to save money or boost efficiency.

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Fast Doesn't Mean Efficient

In the world of fulfillment it seems more than ever speed is the goal. Modern consumers have a short attention span and a low tolerance for delay. In today's pick-and-click world of shopping, customers can find whatever they need, in any color and any size, by simply picking up their phones. They expect the shipment of their purchases to be just as quick as their shopping experience and grow impatient when that's not the case.

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The Future of Fulfillment is Outsourcing

For most businesses, from start-ups to the most well-established corporations, their choice of outsourcing fulfillment services is a secondary concern to making sure that products are flying off the shelves and into shopping carts—both literal and digital.

And once you hit the point where you’re overwhelmed with trying to fulfill your orders, you have a limited number of options:

  1. Keep fulfilling orders yourself and never sleep again.
  2. Hire someone for shipping only. You now have a shipping department. Figure that your costs include salary and benefits, space, packaging supplies, shipping costs and probably some shipping department equipment.
  3. Use a third-party order fulfillment company
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Supply Chain Disruption

It's the nature of skilled supply chain professionals to feel a need to have contingency plans for their contingency plans. Designing and implementing a "tight ship" is more than a matter of pre-planning, however: Eventually, something unexpected will happen and even the best supply chain risk mitigation framework will bend in the wake of questions and uncertainty.

In short, good mitigation practice isn't necessarily about building a ship that's entirely waterproof, it's about knowing what to do and how quickly to do it when it springs a leak. Here's a few of the ways you can add more efficiency into your backup plans:

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Sustainable Packaging in Fulfillment

Reduce, reuse and recycle - the mantra of the eco-friendly movement, these three little words are more than an edict. They've grown, evolved and become a tagline for the "green" revolution, and they're ripe for the plucking by savvy business decision-makers. 

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Is your fulfillment center ready for the Holiday rush?

 With fulfillment centers facing down a proverbial tide of year-end business, productivity and efficiency soar to the top of managers' wish lists. Eager to receive these must-have gifts for your company? Here are five ways to prepare for the winter storm of orders without breaking a sweat or investing in expensive new warehouse technology:

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3 Easy Steps to Benchmark Logistics KPIs

Measurements — determining them, changing them, inferring from them — are a backbone of every industry. Whether the measure of success is something as simple as profit, or as complex as reducing the amount of time a product spends during its travels in the supply chain, having the right "ruler" is absolutely crucial. If you're using the wrong logistics KPIs, or endlessly tracking them for a future purpose that never manifests, you're not only wasting company resources — you're paying out an opportunity cost that could actually make a difference in your goal progression. In only three steps, you can clean up your approach to KPIs and maximize the value obtained from each one.

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Supply Chain Performance Metrics Can Dictate the Path of Your Business

The flowchart is a time-honored tool of decision making, a simplified blueprint for what to do if a situation matches certain parameters. It's also a vastly underutilized technique in logistics and supply chain performance decisions, likely due to the complexities of the chain falling short of the simplicity needed for such a chart. The quick decisions and experience-fueled moves that run a fulfillment center can't be codified as A or B choices — or can they?

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Look Beyond KPIs to Analyze Where Your Supply Chain Is Failing

Think, for a moment, of your supply chain as you would a balanced diet. Even if you’re carefully measuring your caloric intake, it doesn't necessarily mean that you’re eating well! The same can be said for operational measurement and supply chain analytics. They're helpful, but only as part of a broader approach that considers every angle, not just those derived from data. With much industry emphasis placed on supply chain KPIs, it's easy to hone in on them and miss the supply chain forest for the trees.

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Metrics That Matter: Set Up Your 3PFs With the Right KPI Structure

When outsourcing a vital operational task like fulfillment, the hiring company should always provide clear guidelines and KPIs to ensure things run smoothly even without direct, real-time supervision. Typically, 3PF and 3PL partnerships are initially created due to constraints — desired results that the original business lacks the time, effort or intrinsic resources to provide — which means that relative autonomy is an important facet. If service providers need to constantly stay in contact to verify and course-correct, any resource savings are whittled away. KPIs act as silent sentinels, giving outsourced teams an "instruction manual" in the form of concrete supply chain metrics and goals.

So, what should you include in these crucial guidelines? Start with these.

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