Warehouses are huge and hold a lot of stuff – that’s their job – but for a well-run warehouse distribution center, attention to detail counts, from the need to ensure the right items go to the correct places in a pick-and-pack operation to sending out the right merchandise in eCommerce fulfillment.
At the same time, becoming so immersed in minutiae to the point of not being able to see the forest for the trees is a problem. While it’s easy to get lost in the details, never lose sight of the fact that fulfillment services involve many vital functions addressing specific needs. Following one item through the system may best illustrate this concept.
Rubber Ducky, You’re the One
Let’s say Mr. Duck is for sale through omni-channel retailing. A buyer goes to the store website and orders him. At this point, visions of some store employee boxing up the duck in a back room may come to mind. Banish those thoughts. Instead, picture the order going to a fulfillment warehouse, where the warehouse staff picks the item out and packs it up for shipment to the customer.
Elsewhere, a consumer goes into a brick-and-mortar store branch looking for the duck and is lucky enough to get the last one in stock. The store is able to quickly restock by contacting their distribution center for a shipment of rubber ducks.
Providing fulfillment and distribution services means Mr. Rubber Ducky (or a few crates of him) arrives at the warehouse safely and promptly, is efficiently checked in, and properly placed in the perfect location for later pick-and-pack for shipping to a customer or for shipment to restock a store.
So, how did the duck get to the warehouse? Using proven practices and efficient warehouse management systems (WMS), wholesalers and retailers should have the ability to arrange for direct shipment of their inventory from the manufacturer to the facility. This is one example of the importance of the physical location of a distribution warehouse.
A location near several shipping hubs – including air, sea, rail and road – is ideal because it promotes easy transport of goods from place to place.
Where’s the Duck?
Sure, it’s just a rubber duck, but for our purposes, that duck represents many types of inventory, therefore many people (including you) care about his whereabouts. A lot of money changes hands to bring products like Mr. Duck to market. That’s a good reason to keep tabs on traveling ducks throughout the warehouse distribution services.
Good distribution warehouse processes foster higher overall profits through inventory management systems that safeguard against misplaced or damaged inventory.
Somewhere, there is a child waiting for his or her new bath toy, and a set of parents wondering when it will arrive. If an order fulfillment warehouse integrates its WMS with its customers’ inventory systems, they can locate the duck quickly. Good WMS integration means customers have seamless access to order data and status.
Any outfits providing fulfillment and warehouse distribution management likely also offer value-added services, which may end up saving you money and time in the long run, so consider using them:
- Product labeling/ticketing
- Component assembly
A distribution center and its supporting services should have the means to cater to businesses of all types and sizes. Even companies of the same size, even in the same category, have varying distribution needs. For some, there may be a high volume of fulfillment services, so they must ship the duck to your customers, whether they want one duck or 1,000.
Keep your ducks in a row and ship them out in an orderly fashion, both to your customers and to your retail outlets, by keeping an eye not just on the details of warehousing distribution but on the big picture.
Efficiency combined with a realistic overall vision of how everything goes together means more money and happier customers – including that kids’ parents who just made bath time less of a struggle with a fun, new toy.