As pick and pack fulfillment marches into 2015, the industry is being trailed by two concerning problems nipping at its heels: accurate data management within its own ranks and a troubling shortage of professionals to get finished products from point A to point B. All is not lost for fulfillment services, however, it just takes a little foresight, staying a step ahead to prevent these nagging issues from taking a bite out of productivity or the bottom line.
Choose Your Transport Provider Wisely
The adage linking a price tag with results isn't just about end-user purchasing; it applies to vendor services as well. While the low-bid or existing partnership option for transportation may be tempting in the short term, it's a good idea to take a peek at how they stack up to the industry. William B. Cassidy of JOC provides an eye-opening statistic. There is currently a whopping 90% turnover rate for large truck carriers. That means 9 out of every 10 drivers will leave the company within a year, incurring additional training costs and delays as new drivers adjust to the route or even the industry as a whole.
Even if you focus only on your direct cost, you are still acting as a subsidy to this practice, in effect encouraging the delays and issue-prone turnover cycle on the backs of your own products. Worse, the less that companies fail to act to stem this outflow of experienced workers, the more shallow and bleak the talent pool will become.
When working with a new transport provider or assessing a current relationship with one, ask them how they compare to current pay rates, time off, and expectations within the industry and make your vendor selection accordingly.
Don't Bite Off Less, Chew Better
For pick and pack fulfillment services, increasingly complicated supply chains too often translate to uncertain success in terms of tech implementation and data sharing. When legacy systems fail to process input accurately or choke on a massive influx of data, the knee-jerk response is to scale back to prevent disasters, but this isn't necessarily the best option. Sooner or later, an accurate top-down view won't just be a handy tool to leverage for competition's sake, it will be a vital cog in the machine— remember, computers were once considered superfluous too.
As Laura Cecere writes for Supply Chain Shaman, having a clear set of goals in mind before contacting a provider will eliminate a lot of "fuzziness" in initial discussions and implementations, as well as cut back on misfires. It's far better to tackle link-forging in your supply chain's technology outlook now, rather than scrambling to fix it in the future when it's overdue and stressing your fulfillment capabilities.
More Than an IT Fix
Bringing your IT-based supply chain practices into line with data sharing also offers additional opportunities for improvement that shouldn't be ignored. As you're checking off your "2015 Fulfillment To-Do List," consider tightening up security once your code is cracked open for adjustments.
With cybercrime on the rise, Thor Olavsrud points out in CIO that it's never too early to start keeping increasingly-devious waves of hackers at bay. Additionally, reviewing privacy policies and legal text for up-to-date accuracy and compliance is considerably easier when you've already gotten your proverbial sleeves rolled up as a company. Once these approaches are appropriately covered, instructing users with access— from direct employees through supply chain vendors that use your systems— in appropriate use and security measures strengthens these measures even further.
While the beginning of 2015 looks to bring a set of small steps towards technological advancements for pick and pack fulfillment services, there's a good chance these may be giant strides by the end of the year. Face these challenges head on and take a little time to smooth out rough edges and your supply chain can look forward to smooth sailing, no matter what headwinds the new year brings.