Tag Archives: warehouse

3 Benefits of Warehousing Services for Your Business

With the growth of the international trade and retail sector, the importance of warehousing services is increasing as well. Proper storage of goods has always been an essential asset of a smooth logistics strategy. In fact, warehousing services can greatly impact your supply chain efficiency.

It is crucial for the company to have enough space to store inbound shipments and consolidate outbound freight. Good warehouse management can provide substantial benefits to your order fulfillment, service, and customer satisfaction.

Here are 3 main benefits of good warehousing services for your business:

Better operational efficiency

Regardless if your warehouse is in-house or you are outsourcing warehouse management, it should result in better efficiency. When you have enough space and it’s being managed the right way, this can reduce costs and make processes run faster and smoother.

Inventory and stock management

A good warehousing service provider has advanced technology and tools to give you increased visibility into your product stock. Therefore, it lets you manage and track all the shipping processes and forecast the next steps according to the data analysis. With accurate inventory insights, you can see what operations require optimization or elimination, and where you have strategy gaps.

Customer satisfaction

In the retail business, the customer’s experience is the ultimate assessment of a company’s success. Customer service is often a weak link in the business strategy. Perhaps effective warehouse management can fix it in your case? It may seem like there’s barely any connection between purchasers and storage facilities. However, properly managed inventory and visibility into the stock can greatly affect the speed of order fulfillment and delivery. All of this results in fast shipping and increases your customer satisfaction within your company’s services.

Although warehousing and storage are often underestimated, they are major contributors to your businesses performance. Practicing an efficient warehouse and inventory management strategy can take your customer service and productivity to another level.

warehouse management

Best Practices for a Robust Warehouse Management

In the fast-changing world of commerce and transportation, the role of warehouse management and inventory facilities becomes more and more important.

What is warehouse management? 

warehouse management

Warehouse management is a complex series of activities, steered toward maintaining and reviewing all of the processes within the facility. Warehouse management includes:

  • Setting up the warehouse and inventory
  • Optimizing facility space to fit the maximum volume of products in a properly sorted way
  • Maintaining the required equipment
  • Picking, packing, and shipping orders
  • Control and maintenance of the entire warehouse performance

Why does warehouse management matter?

All forward-looking companies that manufacture or retail goods think about delivering better customer service for their customers. The great service often suggests fast delivery, which includes order fulfillment time combined with transit time. While a lot has been already said about route optimization and faster transits, fulfillment strategy can often be overlooked. Warehouse and inventory management is crucial for faster, efficient order fulfillment. A well-thought-out fulfillment strategy and warehouse organization process lets companies operate faster and increase productivity.

What are the warehouse management best practices?

There are many different ways to improve your warehouses’ operational performance, as well as boost the efficiency of order fulfillment. Here are some tips on technologies and strategies you can use to improve your company’s warehousing:

Make sure you are using the space efficiently

Re-organizations of storage planning are useful, as you can define the misused or extra space in your facility. The more optimized your warehouse space is, the faster the shipping process will be. A great tip is to sort your products in the following way: high-selling ones should be put near the packing section for easy access, and all the other goods should be sorted according to demand.

Use a robust warehouse management system (WMS)

This is software for tracking, documenting and keeping everything organized. WMS is an essential tool for any company that wants to take its performance to another level. Choosing a well-oiled management system matters, as it helps simplify the process of order circulation.

Automation

Digitization and new technology are affecting all industries, especially the logistics sector. In a global supply chain, innovations are driving progress and warehouse automation lets companies enhance operational performance with robotic systems, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Such shifts may be hard to implement and can even disrupt the fulfillment process, but the end result is believed to be worth the efforts. Automation makes operations much faster, eliminates manual tasks and collects data more efficiently.

Final thoughts

After all, a thorough analysis is key. Discuss with your team all of the major drawbacks and pitfalls of your current warehousing strategy, and define an action plan. Who knows, maybe updating your warehouse management strategy will be a major uplift for your business!

Whose WMS To Use When Outsourcing to a 3PL?

An efficient warehouse management system (WMS) is an invaluable part of a company’s distribution strategy. As omnichannel fulfillment becomes increasingly more popular and complex, WMS systems are too. Companies need to be able to plan and optimize orders quickly and accurately.

However, most companies will struggle with the decision of using their own WMS or using that of their logistics provider.

In an ideal world, the company would manage all of its information within a single WMS platform to increase efficiency and visibility. This could happen with their own WMS or the 3PL’s.

Companies may choose to stay with their own system for the sake of integration and cost controls. Jim Stephens, chief information officer at Port Logistics Group, says “[companies] may not want to invest the time and IT resources to integrate with a new WMS, or fear that they will lose control of how the system is updated and upgraded over time.”

A good 3PL will recognize the importance of this decision. It’ll work with clients no matter which WMS they choose to use. Of course, there are pros and cons to both avenues.

Using the Company’s Own WMS wms

When a customer decides to retain its own WMS, the 3PL must provide a trained staff with the expertise to accurately execute operations. The team should be skilled enough to act as if they were an extension of the customer’s supply chain network.

Although utilizing the customer’s own system optimizes their visibility and increases consistency within the supply chain, it has its drawbacks for the 3PL when the customer experiences dramatic spikes in volume, as it makes it more difficult for the 3PL to quickly move staff to and from accounts to deal with the abrupt change.

Companies also choose to use their own WMS to ensure data and operations uniformity when working with multiple warehouses and logistics services partners. Some supply chain professionals attest that there is a loss of control when they utilize the 3PL’s system.

Using the 3PL’s WMS

A logistics provider increases its ability to move labor around on the customers’ behalf when it uses its own WMS across all customers and facilities.

Change is a constant in many industry verticals, and keeping up with the changes entails system modifications that can be costly. When the 3PL uses its own WMS, it eats that cost. The customer would have to foot the bill if they chose to stick with their own system.

Every customer is different, so 3PL’s must be, and have become, skilled in integrating data from all of their customers into one system – their own.

When it’s all said and done, there are three major advantages to relying on the system of the logistics provider. They include faster implementations, relief from the burden of updating the WMS. Also, it means more flexibility in changing locations in the future.

But, these advantages are contingent upon the skill of the provider’s IT staff. Without an IT department that possesses the competence to integrate quickly and adequately, these benefits are immediately negated.

Bottom line?

The decision of which WMS to use is not one that should be taken lightly. The pros and cons of both avenues are undeniable. However, the most important issues need to be identified and addressed upon the initial contemplation of a business relationship. Only then will the relationship be beneficial to both the logistics provider and the customer.

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More Inventory, Less Warehouse Space: How Virtual Inventory Works

The omni-channel environment consists of demanding, knowledgeable consumers who expect a seamless, customized shopping experience. They want to order from anywhere, at any time – these empowered shoppers have changed fulfillment and transportation in retail supply chains.

To enhance the customer’s shopping experience, retailers are building virtual inventories. Virtual inventory is an all-inclusive list of a company’s products that can be sold to a consumer; the products might be in a retail store, stock room or warehouse.

Think about it like this: When a customer places an order for new shoes, a system scans and checks the virtual inventory list to determine the product’s location in correlation to the customer. Based on this information, the employee has the shoes picked, packaged and shipped to be delivered to the requested destination.

Inventory management is a differentiator in the omni-channel retail world. Creating inventory visibility means shared data across all shopping channels.

Effective virtual inventory optimizes retail fulfillment by locating the product closest to the consumer and choosing the best routing option, determined by time and cost.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has an enormous library of virtual inventory. They operate out of more than 100 fulfillment centers and offer unrivaled options in shipping. Amazon has significantly influenced customers’ expectations in service and product options.

Now, these expectations are universal and all businesses are expected to provide the highest level of service. This strains logistics functions – especially transportation, which struggles to provide the necessary capacity for increasing freight tonnage and arriving at varying destinations on time.

Virtual inventory practices help meet high expectations. Using various stores and warehouses as sources of inventory, a retailer provides superior customer service through faster delivery at lower costs.

Even smaller companies can emulate the virtual inventory process and compete with Amazon and other mega-retailers. Virtual inventory providers assist companies to build inventory in various locations and enable them to offer their consumers fast and cheap fulfillment.

But, like other supply chain practices, a virtual inventory comes with risk:

Benefits Risks
·         Shorter transportation routes/ less OTR miles: Shipping from location with the closest proximity to consumer. ·         Poor delivery performance directly affects the brand’s reputation.
·         Offer customers products that aren’t in-house. ·         Integration and adoption of the order processing system across all inventory locations.
·         Offer more brands within product categories. ·         Accommodating the increased inventory.
·         Increase product offerings without buying additional warehouse space. ·         Shipping strategy must meet demand.

 

Virtual inventory is a key component to retail’s omni-channel strategy because it permits retailers to sell store products in locations outside of their own store fronts and distribution centers. For virtual inventory to be a successful strategy, it requires technological integration and buy-in from the company, its suppliers and its distribution and store operations.

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What is Cross Docking in Supply Chain Management?

what is cross dockingWhat is cross docking?

Cross-docking is a logistics strategy when carrier immediately unloads the cargo from an incoming container and then loads it directly to an outbound carrier. It is a practice that keeps supply chains moving in a productive, effective manner.

How does cross docking work?

Instead of a standard distribution center (DC), cross-docking facilities are more of a “sorting center”; a place where goods quickly pass through. These facilities require far less storage space than a DC. The docking terminal consists of inbound and outbound lanes. So, inbound shipments go to a receiving dock and then the products go directly to outbound destinations on forklifts or conveyor belts or sorted and consolidated before making their way to outbound shipping. Usually, the goods spend less than 24 hours within a docking terminal.

Types of cross docking

1. Continuous Cross-Docking

The simplest and fastest process. It provides a central site for products, so they are immediately transferred from an inbound truck to an outbound truck. If trucks arrive at the terminal at different times, they will incur a waiting time.

2. Consolidation Arrangements

The process of merging several smaller product loads into one truck or one big load in the dock facility. This way, incoming freight is combined with goods stored at the terminal to form full truckload shipments.

3. Deconsolidation Arrangements

This process is the opposite of consolidation arrangements. Large product loads are broken into smaller loads for easy transportation. Usually, these small loads go directly to a customer.

When cross-docking is used?

Moving from traditional DCs to facilities would enable a company to increase inventory turns and reduce material handling and distribution costs. Effective cross-docking leads a business to cost savings by eliminating the need for warehouse space and labor costs (less packaging and storing).

This method seems to be a universal upgrade for the supply chain. However, there are some industries that especially benefit from this method, they include:

  • Perishable goods, foods, and beverages
  • Inbound supplier components and raw materials
  • Already packed and sorted products, parcels

It is cost-effective for a company with high-volume shipments and substantial transportation needs – otherwise, shipping won’t be smooth or fast. Also, the method requires a heavy investment in automation, visibility, outbound, and inbound logistics.

How can you benefit from cross docking?

Trucking companies love this shipping practice because trucks have fuller loads and exact destinations for each shipment which saves transportation costs. This way, a shipper can adapt quickly to new selling channels and market conditions; this shipping method reduces the overall time to reach each customer.

Although this practice delivers significant financial and operational advantages, to achieve effective performance, companies must implement proper tracking and compliance. Just like other data-driven supply chain practices, cross-docking requires control and visibility of shipment from supplier to end customer. For more information about how PLS can help your company with customized logistics solutions and supply chain design, click here.