It is an important practice to regularly evaluate your business to ensure that you are on track for success. One of the most vital parts of your business is inventory management. If you have had the challenge of getting the right products in stock for when your customers need them, or if you have lost money due to excess stock in your warehouse, it is highly recommended that you improve your inventory management strategy. Here’s what you need to know about inventory management systems and some best practices for managing inventory effectively.
What Is Inventory Management?
An inventory management system is one of the most important parts of a business’ supply chain. It aims to ensure that the right products are always stocked, and that the right quantity is available for sale when customers need them. It also ensures that the business owner is fully aware of when each product comes and goes from the manufacturer, to the warehouse, to the distribution method, to the customer. When inventory management is done effectively, businesses can lower their costs while maximizing sales and streamlining the process.
Inventory Management Best Practices
Here are some best practices to help you manage inventory effectively.
Use the FIFO Approach
The FIFO approach stands for “First In, First Out”. You should sell your goods in the same chronological order as they were purchased or created. This is extremely important if you are selling perishable products like food, makeup, and flowers. The best way to apply FIFO in a warehouse or storeroom is to add new items from the back so that older products are the first items that are picked.
Fine Tune Your Forecasting
Accurate forecasting is vital to ensuring that you make the right decisions about your inventory and are always prepared if there is an issue. You should base your projected sales calculations on factors such as historical sales figures, marketing trends, predicted growth, the economy, promotions, marketing efforts, and more.
Identify Low-Turn Stock
If you have stock taking up space in your warehouse because it hasn’t been sold in the last six to 12 months, it is best for you to stop stocking that item. Instead, you should consider different strategies to clear the space of that stock. You can offer it at a special discount or promotion. Excess stock wastes your space and capital, so it is best that you get these items moving as quickly as possible.
Audit Your Stock
Even with the best inventory management software and strategy it is still important for you to periodically counter inventory to ensure that what you have in stock matches what your records say. There are different techniques for auditing your stock including an annual year-end physical check where you count every single item. You can also do an ongoing spot check which can be useful for products that are fast moving or have stocking issues.
Use Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software can help you track your products in real time and provide you with accurate counts so you can give your customers current information. It also helps you know where items are in your warehouse so that you can make the best decisions for organizing and route planning. When choosing a good inventory management software, you can expect to reap the following benefits:
- Reduce costs, improve cash flow, and boost your bottom line
- Track inventory in real time
- Forecast customer demand
- Prevent product and production shortages
- Prevent excess stock and raw materials
- Easy inventory analysis on any device
- Accessible from your point-of-sale (POS) system
- Optimize warehouse organization and employee time
- Quick and efficient barcode scanning to speed up intake
- Multi-location management (tracking inventory across several locations or warehouses)
Hire a Stock Controller
If you have a lot of inventory it may be in your best interest to hire one person and make them responsible for managing it. A stock controller will process all purchase orders, receive deliveries, and ensure that everything that enters your warehouse matches what was ordered.
Remember Quality Control
No matter what industry you are in, you must ensure that all your products are in great condition and work as they should. Quality control is a vital part of inventory management because you do not want to be sending your customers defective items. Ensuring quality control can be as simple as having your employees quickly examine the items during stock audits. They should follow a checklist for signs of damage and correct product labelling to make sure everything is in order.
Get Inventory Management Help from Lean Supply Solutions
Proper inventory management requires the right processes and tools. Simply tracking everything with pen and paper will consume your time and will produce serious errors. Setting up a quality inventory management system will save you the hassle, save you money, ensure accuracy, help you prepare for any potential issues, and improve the way you run your warehouse. When you partner with a third-party logistics provider (3PL), you’ll have incredible cloud-based inventory management solutions and the manpower to run your warehouse for better optimization.
If you’re looking for the right 3PL partner to help you implement your inventory management solution, look no further than Lean Supply Solutions. We can help you if you are looking for a 3PL company with the latest technology and cloud-based software systems. Our 3PL and 4PL services include pick-and-pack, inventory management, delivery, and more, and we are dedicated to helping you achieve consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team, or to ask any questions, contact us today!
- Published in Blog
It’s easy to get excited at the prospect of improving your warehouse organization and management with a new Warehouse Management System (WMS), but there are some important things to consider to ensure you are using this software as effectively as possible. Here are some tips from the experts to help you get the most out of your WMS, and how a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can offer this and much more.
Evaluate and Choose the Right WMS
The first step is choosing the right WMS for your needs. Unsure of where to begin? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you narrow down your options:
- What problems have you been facing in your warehouse?
- What opportunities for improvement have you yet to take hold of?
- Do you need to access data from multiple sources to gather an accurate inventory count?
- Has your inventory grown to the point where you have difficulty locating items in your warehouse?
- Are you struggling to create efficient and time-saving paths for your employees to retrieve and store items?
- Which processes of your warehouse need improvement?
Choose a Deployment Method
There are three deployment models to choose from with WMS. Here’s what you need to know about each of them to help you choose the best option:
In this model, the WMS is installed directly onto your company’s system and you are responsible for sourcing and running the program. These roles include network infrastructure, power supply, servers, etc. You may also need to pay for updates in the future.
A hosted WMS is like the on-premise model, but the infrastructure requirements are rented on an as-needed basis from your provider or a third-party. In other words, although your WMS is remotely hosted, you still own the software on your system.
If you’re familiar with Software as a Service systems (SaaS), cloud-based WMS is quite similar. You can access the data from the software using your personal login, regardless of what computer you use. You own this software and can access it if the program has been installed on other devices. Many WMS providers today offer cloud solutions as they are a safer and more efficient way to store information so managers can always have real-time updates without paying extra.
Build an Implementation Team
Once you have chosen the best WMS model for you, it’s time to get the system in place and build your implementation team. Here are the people involved in the process:
This is the high-level decision-maker who requested the WMS and determines the scope of the project, budget, etc.
The project manager is responsible for daily activities related to implementing the WMS. They are the primary contact between the vendor and the company and will delegate tasks, create schedules, and monitor deadlines to make the WMS as seamless as possible for IT and operations teams.
The person responsible for the technical aspect of the WMS is the system or data administrator. They will ensure it integrates with the company’s existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and that the data is safely migrated from the current system to the new one.
Business Unit Leaders
These people are employees you assign from your operations team, IT, and warehouse staff, who will be part of the implementation process. They should attend meetings and daily activities and stay informed to train other workers later.
Provide Training Sessions for Employees
The provider of your WMS should properly train your employees involved to ensure they are familiar with the system and receive hands-on support. These employees will become the internal experts to train and assist other members of your organization. Proper training is vital to ensure you are getting the most out of your WMS and streamlining warehouse processes.
Create a Communication Plan
Since implementing WMS can mean a lot of changes for each of your departments, schedule a company-wide meeting to explain this change. Without clear communication of how to use and access the WMS data, you’ll have confused or disengaged employees that don’t know how to adapt. At worst, implementing without communicating could lead to an increase in worker turnover and slow you down, defying the whole purpose of your goals. Here are some tips:
- Appoint spokespeople who provide updates to your teams
- Market the project internally, explaining why this implementation is beneficial to everyone
- Communicate in-person as much as possible
- Create a dialogue and let your team weight in on their thoughts, questions, or concerns about the new system
- Use multiple communication channels
Review Your WMS
Once you’ve implemented the WMS and a month has passed, it’s time to evaluate. Have there been any issues with it so far? Has it been helping you plan and budget better? How have the forecasting features and data collection helped you stay organized and improve customer service? Have a team meeting to see how everyone is doing and do regular follow ups until everyone is on the same page.
Get Warehouse Management Help from Lean Supply Solutions
A warehouse management system is an asset to help you optimize your operations and prepare for any potential issues. When you partner with a 3PL provider, you’ll have access to WMS and much more, plus, they will help you and your team get trained on how it works and benefits everyone.
If you’re looking for the right 3PL partner to help you implement a WMS, look no further than Lean Supply Solutions. Our 3PL and 4PL services include pick and pack, inventory management, delivery, and more, and we are dedicated to helping you achieve consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team, or to ask any questions, contact us today.
- Published in Blog
Choosing the right software solution to manage and streamline your warehouse processes is essential to productivity and efficiency. Without a proper management system in place, your warehouse cannot function in a way that works for your team and your customers. The two main options for warehouse management include the traditional warehouse management system (WMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Although they have some similarities, these two systems are distinctly different and have their own benefits. Here’s what you need to know about each of them, and how to find out which is the best option for you.
What Is WMS?
As mentioned before, WMS stands for warehouse management system. This system is used to manage the storage, order processing, and movement of inventory in your warehouse. It helps you track the progress of each item at each stage: receiving, picking, packing, and shipping. With this real-time data, you can optimize based on historical trends and information. You can make better decisions during peak times and slower times. With WMS, you can reduce shipping errors, which account for 54% of returns. It also establishes a seamless link from order processing and logistics to the physical movement of the product out of the warehouse. The very best WMS will allow you to seamlessly connect your e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, accounting platforms, shipping carriers, and more.
Pros of WMS:
- Adaptable to the needs of each business
- Focuses on real-time operations—changes and grows with your inventory
- Makes your warehouse efficient and productive with multi-functional components
- Reports help you predict your inventory needs, even during high peak events
- Lower risk investment
Cons of WMS:
- You will need to set aside time to update and set up your warehouse locations with the WMS
- WMS only covers your order fulfillment, inventory, and warehouse management
What Is ERP?
The second option for your warehouse management is enterprise resource planning, or ERP. Both small and large businesses can use this to stay competitive and efficient with the way they store and access information. ERP seeks to achieve this by streamlining all processes and information into one solution. WMS focuses on the warehouse inventory alone, while ERP automates every department in your organization including inventory, service, sales, human resources, purchasing, customer relationship management (CRM), material requirements planning (MRP), financials, and products. ERP contains some of the same capabilities as WMS as well, but they are not as thorough. With ERP you can track inventory and get information about when items are picked, packaged, and shipped, but it focuses on creating a streamlined flow of information between all areas of business.
Pros of ERP:
- Streamlines all platforms
- Makes the warehouse functions seem like a “free bonus” since it includes all processes
- Able to automate different aspects of your business—increases productivity and efficiency
Cons of ERP:
- May cost more in implementation and in the long-term
- May not be as flexible in terms of sharing data with vendors
- Lacks an in-depth look at inventory and reporting to maximize warehouse space
- Rigid and transactional because they operate across multiple departments
Which Management System Is Right for You?
The benefit of having two options is that you can choose the right system for your goals, challenges, and budgets. A few aspects to keep in mind before you choose the right system for you include the following.
Consider the long-term goals of your business. What is required to get you there? Take time to define the measurable outcomes you hope to achieve and the functional requirements your business needs to get there.
You should also consider the technical requirements for storing and moving your products. What equipment do you need to integrate? This assessment will help you avoid problems related to your storage and delivery processes.
Return on Investment
Finally, you should calculate the return on investment (ROI) of each system by matching the costs of your long-term goals and needs to the implementation and integration costs. Consider how the increase in productivity will affect your bottom line. Each operations area of your business will be affected by your software, so it is important to carefully assess the pros and cons to make the best decision.
Get Help Managing Your Manufacturing Process with LSS
Both systems are important aspects in helping you manage your supply chain, but to meet your goals in the best way possible, you need to decide which of them is best for you. It is important to note that you can set up one of these systems on your own, or partner with a third-party logistics provider who can offer you these systems and more.
Lean Supply Solutions can help you if you are looking for a 3PL company with the latest technology and software systems. We are aware of the rising trends in the logistics industry and always strive to stay up to date. We commit to being aware of our clients’ operational challenges as they arise and help them get the most out of their supply chain processes. Our 3PL and 4PL, packaging, and supply chain management can streamline your processes for better success, as we deliver your products to your customers on time and help you achieve consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team or to ask any questions, contact us.
- Published in Blog
Steve Jobs once famously said “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” For apparel manufacturers and retailers, this idea could not be closer to the truth. A good advertiser knows what their customers are looking for and delivers it. In this day and age, consumers want to search for the items they want, compare prices, and move between purchasing channels fluidly. Without seamless purchasing experiences, manufacturers and retailers miss incredible opportunities for sales. Learning to move with your customers, however, is more challenging than it sounds. Creating an omni-channel fulfillment solution through a third-party logistics (3PL) provider is the best way for you to achieve this goal. How do omni-channel supply solutions help you achieve success? Here’s how.
Invest in Fulfillment Technology
Today’s supply chain has access to multiple technologies that can optimize your processes. Some of these underutilized technologies include Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Distributed Order Management (DOM), and demand planning. With technology, you can become more efficient as you allocate inventory to your stores, warehouses, and customers in an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective manner. In addition, you can capture all information in the order management process and make it available through your channels to those who need visibility.
Use the Right Technology
When choosing technology to support your omni-channel fulfillment solution, don’t simply purchase the newest solution. You need to find out what works best for your specific needs. If customers are expecting fast shipping, your wholesale accounts and retail partners will also require quick packaging and fulfillment of orders. You can use the services of a 3PL provider to help you keep up with demand. Every brand is unique and depending on your business partners and where consumer demand is, you should seek a best fit strategy to meet these expectations.
Choose the Best Talent
Having the right talent is key for a successful strategy. Identifying the necessary skill sets and jobs required to help your business run properly is important. Take the time to consider what roles are crucial to your organization’s long-term success and find a partner that can help you achieve them.
Maximize Sales with Automation
Every business knows that to increase sales, manufacturers need to accurately forecast demand for each channel. The process of allocation can be tedious yet leveraging an intelligent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is essential to making this work. ERP software helps to automate the allocation process and make smart decisions that lower your costs and resources. For example, if you are scheduling a flash sale, your solution should make this event more important over other channels and you should have allocation rules for a specific time frame to ensure that all these orders are fulfilled. Automation, robotics, and actionable intelligence can help you reduce the amount of labour-intensive aspects and make omni-channel fulfillment a reality.
Target High-Growth Markets
The omni-channel fulfillment market is expected to grow at a fast pace, reaching over $3.7 billion by 2020. To help boost this growth, companies like yours need to target high-growth markets. One way to do this is to consider the Tier 2 market. While most of the big businesses are actively targeting the Tier 1 market, there are increasingly more small companies that are switching over to omni-channel fulfillment solutions. This second tier of customers provides an excellent area of growth for suppliers.
Why You Need Omni-Channel Fulfillment Solutions
The omni-channel paradigm is not a fad that will go away. In fact, omni-channel commerce is only expected to grow. Whether you are a practitioner or a software supplier, you must establish and follow a road map for success to prevent yourself from getting left behind. By getting on board now, you can keep up with the changing nature of the e-commerce and omni-channel paradigm.
As mentioned above, if you invest in technology and adjust your operations to make your solutions more accessible, robust, and user-friendly, you will improve your customer reputation and see exceptional growth. Additionally, by reading and understanding data about your customer demands, you can adjust to meet their expectations and turn new customers into faithful clients. Even if you are a small company, there are ways for you to access this strategy to improve your business.
How Does Lean Supply Solutions Differ from Other 3PL Providers?
With so many 3PL providers to choose from, it can be challenging to find the right one for you. There are some aspects a good 3PL provider should have:
- Proven knowledge and experience that meets your needs
- Collaboration abilities with suppliers, customers, intermediaries, and other 3PL services
- Problem-solving skills
- Variety of Services
- Custom Solutions
- Technology and Software
At Lean Supply Solutions, we strive to stand out from the competition by offering all the above services, as well as our Lean Methodology principles. This mindset and value of our organization focuses on eliminating any operations, equipment, and resources that do not bring success and value to our clients’ supply chain. We ensure that your customers get their products at the right time, and offer you consistent, accurate, and quality results.
Our services include contract logistics, manufacturing support, consulting and project management, product and order fulfillment, warehouse and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, pick and pack, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you!
- Published in Blog
E-commerce businesses need to pay attention to the quality of their shipping services. Savvy retailers in the online retail market know this goes beyond just sending a box to a customer. Shipping gives you the opportunity to impress your customers with tidy, well-packaged items that arrive to their address earlier than they expect or right on time. However, guaranteeing this service every time can be complicated and costly as you try to avoid shipping mistakes. Here are some helpful tips for e-commerce businesses and a breakdown of how our third-party logistics company can help you avoid common shipping mistakes.
1. Choose the Right Packaging Size
Packaging is very important as it protects your products during shipping. It also builds your brand’s image and identity, and depending on the size and weight, it determined how much carriers will charge to ship the product. Packaging and size are important aspects to consider with any item you plan to ship. If you try to save money and ship your product in a box that is too small or doesn’t have enough stuffing and bubble wrap, you could risk damaging the product. A good rule of thumb for packaging size is to choose a box that has two inches of cushioning room.
2. Don’t Overpay for Shipping
You can save yourself from wasting money by taking the time to research your shipping costs. Some shipping carriers have a network that allows them to offer faster delivery, weekend delivery, discounts on fuel charges, and more. You may need to pay for these extra services, which is why it’s important to understand them in advance. Only choose a package or carrier that brings features that are valuable to you and your customers. Don’t waste money on services you don’t need.
3. Be Prepared for Changes
The prices and policies for shipping change every year, and although they tend to change at the beginning of the year, they can still happen mid-year. Always be prepared for changes from your shipping carriers. For instance, USPS recently decreased their prices for electronic postage, while UPS and FedEx are now charging by DIM weight.
4. Check That the Address Is Correct
One of the most common shipping mistakes is sending orders to the wrong customers. It’s important that shippers take the time to ensure that the right destination address stated on the bill/invoice is reflected on the packaging, so the package ends up where it needs to. Even the wrong ZIP code can result in a lengthy process of tracking down the shipment and sending it to the correct customer.
5. Take Note of Customer Reviews
You should always pay attention to what your customers are saying about your products and service. Their feedback can help you improve your services and indicated where you need to make adjustments. For example, if your customers are dissatisfied with delivery times, you can consider providing a better shipping option. If your customers are always praising you for quick delivery times, it’s a good sign that the services you’re offering are meeting and exceeding their expectations.
6. Track Your Shipping Supplies
Managing product inventory is crucial for an optimized warehouse, but what about your shipping supplies? These supplies are necessary for sending customer orders out, so if you don’t pay attention to the number of boxes, packing supplies, tape, and labels you have, you run the risk of delaying customer orders as you wait for more shipping supplies. When you track your shipping supplies, you can create re-order points to keep more supplies coming in as you need them.
7. Audit Your Shipments
Studies have shown that 10% of packages arrive late, but shippers only refund a portion of these arrivals. By doing regular audits of your shipments, you can be reimbursed for any carrier shipper errors including late deliveries, incorrect charges for Saturday delivery, duplicate charges, and issues with incorrect address deliveries. Checking each shipment on your own can get extremely time consuming, which is why it is beneficial to partner with a third-party logistics provider and have this process automated.
8. Automate Your Shipping
If your business is growing or if you have a lot of product inventory and customer orders, you won’t have time to create shipping labels by hand. Automating this process can save you valuable time. With e-commerce shipping software, most of the manual tasks involved can be automated (ex. retyping addresses). You can also create customized invoices and packing slips to make your packaging and products look more professional. Automation lets you save hours each day and makes shipping processes run smoother and more accurately for you and your customers.
How a Third-Party Logistics Company Can Help You Improve Your Shipping Processes
Choosing the right shipping carrier is a big decision, which is why you can benefit from the advice and connections of a third-party logistics provider. They will have the services you need to exceed your customer expectations, get better tracking of your inventory and supplies, prepare and forecast changes, and more. They can help you thrive in challenging situations and predict errors so you can make changes to avoid them. When it comes to shipping, there is little room for error if you want your business to grow and profit, so get in touch with a 3PL provider soon and seek services that can help you.
If you are looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, order fulfillment, shipping and delivery, and more. To learn more about outsourcing to us, or to ask any questions, contact us.
- Published in Blog
There is only one way to know if your company is getting what it needs from its third-party logistics provider: fulfillment reports. These reports are essentially measurements of certain benchmarks and are necessary for ongoing evaluations of your progress with that partnership. Your company is unique, so you’ll need customized third-party logistics metrics to help you find solutions for optimization. Here’s how fulfillment services and reports can help you make your business work better.
Types of Reporting
Real-Time Inventory and Order Reports
The purpose and benefit of fulfillment reports is that they can show you in real-time when your customers order, what they order, and the status or count of inventory in your warehouse. This information is used to provide you with the data you need to manufacture and deliver products in record time, so customers get their orders when they expect to. Additionally, shrinkage is one of the biggest issues in a retail market, which is why you need to know how well your fulfillment partner is handling and protecting your inventory. Reports will reflect all of these metrics.
Usage reports are a great way for your company to learn about your customers and fulfillment partner’s habits over a certain period of time based on data generated. These reports can help you predict patterns, correct errors, and alter your processes to be more efficient. Usage reports give you the information you need to have better control of your systems.
Expense reports detail the items that your fulfillment provider purchased for the sake of your business and the costs of each item. These reports are very important for you to get an understanding of what aspects of your business you can scale back on to save, and which areas require more investing. Expense reports can help you plan your strategy accordingly, and will allow you to spot errors early to prevent them from reoccurring. Some of the information fields in an expense report include the following:
- Date that the expenditure was incurred (receipt date)
- Nature of the expense
- Amount of the expense
- Account charged for the expense
- Subtotal of each type of expense
- Grand total of the amount of reimbursement requested
Optimization According to Fulfillment Reports
Here are some of the specific ways you can optimize your business with the help of fulfillment reports from your third-party logistics provider.
There are several factors that influence a product’s velocity (the rate of which the item moves through the supply chain). These factors include seasonality, availability of good labour, recent marketing promotions, and the weather. Patterns emerge as more data is collected, so you can make predictions and adjust your inventory to suit demand. Inventory adjustments can be made in real time to gain an advantage in your supply chain.
Identifying Error-Making Carriers
When it comes to choosing your carrier, there are more choices available now than ever before. It’s wise to negotiate contracts and compare them to others, but this can be a tedious process. A good way to gauge a carrier’s speed and reliability is by generating reports on various performance indicators. These may include frequency of invoicing errors and number of delayed deliveries. If you notice carriers that continue to make invoicing errors, you know to stay clear of them.
Product Addition or Removal
In some cases, available data may not be sufficient to capture a clear pattern. However, if sales trends show that an item is heading downward, you can assume it is losing popularity. You can use this information and decide not to restock the item.
Find Where You Can Save Money
Sometimes it can be challenging to find areas where you can save money, but this is an important aspect to include as you strive for optimization. The data collected in your reports may be enough to make the right adjustments, but you can ask yourself the following questions to help you decide where to cut back:
- When is labour needed more often? When do I notice an oversupply of workers and when should extra workers be sent home?
- Are there better ways to reduce picking time for larger items?
- Which venders have the tendency to short-ship or ship damaged items?
- Which carriers are the best options in which regions?
Choose Lean Supply Solutions for Your Fulfillment Reports
At Lean Supply Solutions, you can benefit from quality and accurate fulfillment reports that help you make wiser decisions about optimizing your supply chain. We are a third-party logistics provider in Toronto, and our Lean Methodology helps our clients eliminate any operations, equipment, personnel, or resources that do not add value to their supply chains. We do our best to ensure that you consistently deliver the right products to the right customers at the right time.
When you outsource your fulfillment to us, you can benefit from long-term savings, customer satisfactions that deliver the best return on investment, lower operating costs, improved focus, high-end technology, and more. Our services also include warehousing and distribution, pick and pack, repackaging, integrated solutions with companies like Amazon, labelling, online reporting, transportation, and more! You can trust us to provide consistent, predictable, and quality results. Contact us today to learn more!
- Published in Blog
Fulfillment centres provide a great option for businesses to expand their fulfillment capabilities. For businesses that have an online store, outsourcing fulfillment is a great way for them to streamline their operations and provide better service overall. E-commerce fulfillment has made it easier for customers to get the products they want at the best price, but, as a business owner, you need to be able to deliver on those promises. With the right logistics provider, you can gain access to limitless scalability and a worldwide customer base. Here are some of the ways that a fulfillment centre can boost your business.
What Is a Fulfillment Centre?
A fulfillment centre is essentially a warehouse or physical space that processes and fulfills orders made by customers. When a customer places an order from an e-commerce retailer, the company will gather the purchased items from inventory, package and label them, and give them to a shipping carrier to be delivered to the customer. Depending on how many orders your business gets, you could be spending a huge amount of your time preparing shipments for your customers. The more orders you get, the greater the risk of error as you try to meet the demand. Therefore, if you’re trying to manage your inventory yourself, you should consider partnering with a third-party logistics provider. Giving this responsibility to them prevents you from making costly mistakes and lowers the number of items that end up on backorder.
Fulfillment Centre vs. Warehouse
When you partner with a third-party logistics provider, each customer’s order information goes directly to them. The fulfillment centre already has your inventory in their warehouse, so they will take the purchase orders, package them, and hand them over to be shipped and delivered to the customer. This entire warehousing process can be taken off your shoulders, and in most cases, it can be completed quicker and more efficiently. Fulfillment centres are designed to do this task in a fast, efficient, and cost-effective manner. They have the capacity to process various orders, and can scale to peak and low seasons.
Although the term fulfillment centre is often used interchangeably with warehouse centre, the two are very different. A warehouse is simply a storage solution that is used to hold a business inventory for a certain amount of time. This is the best option for retailers who need to stock large quantities of their products or who have diverse inventory. On the other hand, a fulfillment centre provides multiple services, including those that a warehouse does. In addition to storing a business’ inventory, a fulfillment centre will do the process of fulfilling customer orders. They will pick the product, package them, label them for shipment, and ensure that they are sent to the customer. The fulfillment process is more in depth and takes a bigger burden off your shoulders. It also helps your business meet and fulfill customer orders.
Benefits of Fulfillment Centres
- With the help of a fulfillment centre, you won’t have to seek out physical space for your inventory or flood your home with items.
- They will handle your inventory, so you won’t have to pack boxes and run to the post office to fulfill customer orders.
- They will negotiate with shipping carriers to give you the best rates and costs.
- They speed up the order fulfillment process and they provide you with same-day or next-day shipping to your customers.
- Your inventory will be properly organized and stored and you will have a real-time view of what you have in stock.
- They will handle returns and exchanges to save you time and energy.
- They can save you money by building your storage and shipping solutions from one place.
- By taking on your inventory management and warehousing and fulfillment, you can focus on other important tasks such as growing your business through marketing, product development, and customer service.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Fulfillment Centre
When choosing the fulfillment centre you want to partner with, here are some areas to consider and some tips to help you make the right selection for you:
- Take some time to look at your current inventory and shipping process—find out what problems exist.
- Do some research about your options for a 3PL provider in your region.
- Compare the services provided by each option.
- Reduce your list to your top three preferences and then dig deeper.
- Consider how compatible they are to your existing management software.
- Plan ahead for scalability and choose a provider that can accommodate your changing business needs.
- Choose a provider with multiple locations, so you can keep costs low and optimize your efficiency.
- Find a provider with multiple industry references and customer satisfaction.
- Negotiate the pricing with your chosen 3PL partner based on what service packages work best for your needs.
Let Lean Supply Solutions Handle Your Fulfillment Processes
There are many benefits of hiring a 3PL provider, including those mentioned above. While they take care of your fulfillment and warehousing responsibilities, you can take care of your core goals such as communicating with your customers, boosting your sales and marketing strategy, and ensuring that you are doing everything you can to reach your goals. If you are looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, order fulfillment, and more. To learn more about outsourcing your fulfillment and warehousing in Toronto to our team, or to ask any questions, contact us today.
- Published in Blog
Are you thinking about starting an e-commerce business? Have you been selling products for a few years and are now ready to consider a warehousing and distribution solution? If your sales are rising and you’re wondering if you have the tools in place to scale, there are some important things to be aware of. Partnering with a third-party logistics provider is one of the best options for a growing business—here’s how you can tell if you’re ready.
Running and staffing your own warehouse may not be the most cost-effective and efficient choice if your order numbers fluctuate throughout the year. Logistics providers can scale to meet your needs, so you don’t waste a cent. They will provide increased personnel and attention when orders are high and scale back when orders are low. With their software, they can record data that helps you predict when you need to order more inventory and when to slow down.
No Time to Manage
If your fulfillment duties are taking up all your time—so much that you are unable to focus on initiatives that would improve operations and increase sales—you need help. A fulfillment partner can take over the role of ensuring your daily warehouse operations are properly managed so you can have more time to focus on your strategic work.
Lack of Infrastructure
A quickly growing business may outgrow its current infrastructure before you’re able to adapt, which is another reason why you can benefit from partnering with a logistics provider. They are better equipped to make adjustments to suit changes in your supply chain.
Contact Lean Supply Solutions for Outsourced Supply Chain Services
There are many benefits of hiring a 3PL provider—they can help you ensure you are giving your customers quality customer service by providing accurate inventory counts; they can help get your orders to your customers on time; they can get you better rates and provide excellent services to meet the needs of your growing business; and they can manage your entire supply chain so you can focus on other core aspects of your business.
As a growing business, you can benefit from their efficiency, talent, and resources, as well as reap the benefits of their supply chain management software and technology to increase visibility and communication between you and everyone in your business network.
If you are looking for the right company to partner with, look no further than Lean Supply Solutions. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services, which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, order fulfillment, and more. To learn more about outsourcing to our supply management in Toronto, or to ask any questions, contact us today.
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What could a third-party logistics provider possibly bring you? If it seems like managing your own warehouse will give you better cost savings and control, think again. For any business that expects growth, a 3PL provider offers endless benefits and solutions that help you run a better supply chain and stay competitive. Here are the top five benefits of teaming up with these experts.
1. Saves Time
Managing your supply chain will take up a lot of your time because you will have multiple responsibilities to manage and optimize. If your business is growing, you should consider partnering with a third-party logistics provider. They can shoulder that entire workload so that you can focus on your core business. Their experience can also help you avoid costly shipping mistakes that take even more time and resources to resolve.
2. Avoid Long-Term Leases
Another advantage of working with a third-party logistics provider is that they offer flexible pricing. As your business grows or enters periods where things are slow, your provider will adapt to your needs and adjust the costs accordingly. If you try to save money up front by renting your own warehouse space, you may end up wasting money and getting stuck with a longer commitment. Many 3PL companies don’t require long-term fixed leases. Instead, you can pay month to month for space that you use, which saves you money and gives you more control.
3. No Staff Is Required
Choosing to run your own warehouse may sound like a good idea; however, you will need to hire staff to fulfill and ship your orders. Managing your staff will take up valuable time. The benefit of working with a 3PL provider is that they will be responsible for finding and hiring the right people for every job. They have their own warehouse staff and personnel who can handle all the labour required, including receiving, inventory management, order processing, and shipping.
4. Optimized Operations
A 3PL partner will ensure that every aspect of your supply chain is working its best. They will utilize the latest techniques and technologies to constantly update and implement best practices throughout the supply chain.
5. Reduces Cost
Like any smart business owner, you want to find ways to save money without compromising your effectiveness. In the long run, partnering with a 3PL company can save you money as your business grows. You can benefit from their efficiencies and leverage their buying power on packaging and shipping costs. You will also save money on employee cost and taxes, warehousing costs, and overall rates.
Contact Lean Supply Solutions for Supply Chain Management
Working with a 3PL provider can help you deal with multiple challenges that a growing business will face. With our experience in strategizing the supply chain, we can provide you with many benefits as we handle your warehousing and distribution.
If you are looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, order fulfillment, and more. To learn more about outsourcing to our supply management in Toronto, or to ask any questions, contact us today.
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Warehousing and distribution services have never been more complicated than they are today. The digitization of the warehouse, the rise in customer expectations regarding delivery and customer service, and the competition of markets put a strain on overall operations. Here are the top 10 warehousing mistakes that many organizations make, and how you can avoid them to run a better business.
1. Lack of Inventory Accuracy
The most important responsibility in your warehouse management is inventory accuracy. Without using a warehouse management system or inventory management system, you will face serious challenges in your supply chain. Managing your inventory levels and ensuring accuracy between all your locations will not be possible without proper planning and software.
2. Failure to Optimize Picking Paths
Another common mistake organizations make is poor optimization of order picking paths in the warehouse. The most variable aspect in your warehouse is the cost of labour, and it can impact your profitability. You need to be sure that your warehouse workers are operating as efficiently as possible. To make the best use of their time and energy, you should carefully study the location of your items in relation to their pick speed. You should place products that are often picked together in close vicinity to each other as much as possible. Achieving this type of analysis can be very complicated, but with the right software packages you can resolve this challenge.
3. Holding Excess Inventory
A good practice when managing your warehouse is to reduce your inventory on a regular basis. When you hold excess inventory, you increase the chances that you have money stuck in stock. Items that sit at the back of your warehouse can become obsolete and forgotten, preventing you from making profits off those items. Reduce the levels of inventory as much as you can to gain a leaner supply chain. You can do this by receiving large orders in smaller batches.
4. Lack of Safety Policies
If your employees are constantly getting injured, they will need to spend more time off work or will work slowly to prevent their injuries from getting worse. If you try to cut corners or look the other way when there are workplace safety issues, you are making a grave mistake. Worker compensation claims can cost you a lot of money. Instead of waiting to apologize after an event like this, get proactive by optimizing your safety practices. Do your best to ensure that your workers are in a safe environment when they walk into work, and take the time to keep them up to speed on current safety procedures.
5. Poor Housekeeping
Messy warehouses aren’t just hazardous, but they also obstract the flow of goods and people, reducing productivity. Establish a housekeeping routine by regularly tidying up and cleaning after every shift. This will allow the next shift to be more productive as they begin working in an organized and clean environment.
6. Neglecting Goods-in-Process
It can seem overwhelming to dispatch customer orders on time, but this pressure should not cause you to neglect the goods-in-process aspect of your supply chain. To avoid neglecting this process, assign dedicated staff to ensure that it is effectively maintained. Make sure that you have enough people responsible for receiving the goods.
7. Failing to Measure the Right Things
It’s easy to get caught up in the obvious responsibilities of managing your warehouse, which is why many organizations forget to measure less obvious operations properly by overlooking important key performance indicators. One of these operations that are often forgotten is the goods receiving process. Good warehouse management means that you need to pay close attention to your entire environment, all the people involved, and every process.
8. Sticking to the Paper Process
There is no reason that you should still be using paper to document your workflow. There are so many options available in the digital realm that can optimize your documentation. Embrace the technology that is available to you by installing effective software to manage your data and inventory. It will also help you gain better visibility, so you know exactly where your products are at all times, how much you have in stock, and when you need to restock or filter out an obsolete item.
9. Lack of Proper Staff Development and Training
Another big challenge in warehousing is employee turnover. When a worker leaves an organization, there is a significant cost that comes along with it. Employees leave for various reasons, but one common reason is because they don’t believe they are receiving the right amount of training and development opportunities to exceed expectations and grow. Employees that do not receive training and development opportunities also affect you. Without proper training, they’re more prone to mistakes, thereby reducing quality and increasing inefficiency in your supply chain. You should ensure that there are detailed training plans for each position, and that every employee has a career development plan that is specific to their goals.
10. Failing to be Ready for the Future
You will set yourself up for failure if you don’t plan for the future. If your company isn’t constantly growing and evolving, it will eventually fall on its face. Although growth rates are different depending on the industry and company you manage, you should still consider your future growth plans. Ask yourself questions such as, how can we expand our current processes, what new technologies are available to help me be more efficient, and does our current infrastructure support growth?
How Lean Supply Solutions Can Help You
Lean Supply Solutions provides quality warehousing and distribution in Canada, California, and other parts of the USA. We are aware of the rising trends, technologies, and challenges organizations like yours faces each year and we can help you track and understand your metrics better. We commit to staying up to date on our clients’ operational challenges and strive to help them get the most out of their processes. We offer consistent, accurate, and quality results by ensuring that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, while saving you money. Our services include warehouse pick-and-pack, contract logistics, manufacturing support, technology, warehousing distribution services, e-commerce fulfillment, consulting, and more. To learn more about our warehouse value-added services, or to ask any questions, contact us today!
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