Furniture warehousing and delivery processes rely on robust logistical strategies so that products reach customers. However, the pandemic has created additional logistical problems.
Selling and delivering furniture differs from smaller commercial transactions such as clothing, home care products, and electronics. Sellers may store and ship furniture in large sizes, from assembled bookcases to whole dining room sets. These large pieces may raise the costs of long-term storage and delivery. It also creates liability costs if the furniture becomes damaged during the last-mile delivery process.
Sellers explore several options when it comes to furniture storage. In the case of e-commerce sellers, they may not have a warehouse location for furniture. Instead, they send an order directly to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then ships it directly from its warehouses. The seller may also opt to use a third-party (3PL) fulfillment, warehouse, or distribution center to store and ship the products whenever orders are placed.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated many of the logistical challenges faced when it comes to shipping furniture. A recent report found that 97% of manufacturing and logistics executives had undergone a supply chain disruption due to the pandemic. Roughly 73% plan to pursue major shifts in how they run their supply chains.
Furniture Logistical Challenges
Each furniture seller and warehouse supervisor may experience unique logistical challenges based on their specific supply chain operations.
These problems may entail one or several of the following aspects:
- Increased online shopping demand: With the pandemic forcing stores to close, shoppers may make more online purchases. This increase in furniture demand results in added shipping delays with fewer available shipping resources, since many sellers never made contingency plans to handle a pandemic.
- Driver shortages: The transportation industry has experienced driver shortages for several years. For furniture sellers, this problem becomes compounded for drivers who not only make deliveries, but also assemble the furniture for homeowners as another complementary service. With fewer drivers, sellers may stretch delivery times/schedules to allow drivers to provide full services.
- Higher shipping and liability costs: Furniture is typically delivered with other furniture. Packing other items may lead to damage when boxes and crates shift in delivery trucks. Due to the size and bulkiness of the furniture, sellers may ship fewer pieces on each vehicle while adding additional delivery routes. This problem leads to higher transportation and fuel costs.
- Inventory management issues: Warehouse layouts may create issues for sellers trying to fit as much inventory as possible within the allowable square footage. Due to space limitations and warehouse location relative to shoppers, sellers may opt for more direct manufacturer-to-consumer supply chains, which create production scheduling disruptions.
- Last-mile logistics: Customers desire perfection when it comes to furniture delivery services. They want the fastest service with the highest-quality furniture. Even the slightest ding or scratch during transportation or when moving the furniture into the home may cause the customer to return the piece. This issue creates higher last mile and reverse logistics costs.
Optimizing Furniture Logistical Processes
To tackle these logistical issues, furniture manufacturers and distributors should perform an enterprise-wide evaluation of their supply chains. This evaluation may help discover the exact nature of issues in their furniture delivery logistics to implement the appropriate measures.
Several solutions to implement may include the following.
- Increase warehousing and distribution center locations: increasing the number of warehouses or using distribution centers closer to where customers live, helps reduce furniture shipping costs. You may also increase delivery schedule times as drivers do not have to make longer transportation hauls to reach customers. In these instances, working with an experienced 3PL that offers distribution and warehousing services may provide competitive pricing and inventory management solutions.
- Implement white glove services: White glove services may lower the amount of returned furniture due to damage during the last mile delivery. Workers unpack and inspect the furniture before it gets placed in the truck for final delivery. This process helps guarantee that the furniture was not damaged when leaving the manufacturer and cuts on additional transportation costs. Then, two drivers accompany the shipment during the last mile to install or assemble the furniture, ensuring the customer’s satisfaction.
- Invest in inventory management and logistical software: Technology offers numerous ways to optimize warehouse receiving processes and sorting processes and develop logistical strategies. You may use inventory management software to track furniture placement in warehouses and vehicles, allowing for more efficient item placement in warehouse zones and on delivery trucks. Sellers may also use artificial intelligence technologies to perform visual inspections of furniture to spot damage while enhancing supply chain productivity.
WSI Furniture Logistical Solutions
At WSI, we understand the hurdles that sellers face when storing and shipping furniture pieces to customers. Our 3PL solutions help streamline the warehousing and delivery process by providing enhanced inventory management solutions, scalable warehousing and distribution centers, and reliable fulfillment center services. We help sellers get their furniture on the road and to their destinations on time and at competitive prices.
Contact WSI to learn more about our consumer goods logistical services.