I’m a big football fan. I grew up watching the game, following along with my dad as he cheered for his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. I always remember him shouting at the television “the best offense is a good defense.” The same can be said about fulfillment. To stay ahead of the game, so to speak, businesses require a fast and efficient order fulfillment center while also protecting their bottom line. From strategy to operations, knowing the ins and outs of your fulfillment process is vital to any successful company.
Often referred to as a third-party logistics provider, or 3PL, a fulfillment center has three key functions:
- Receiving and storing inventory
- Fulfilling orders for customers
- Packing and shipping goods to their final destination
Fulfillment centers store products for short periods of time with lower inventory levels. The goods kept at fulfillment centers are usually in great demand and are constantly used to fill orders, resulting in high product turnover.
With the spike in e-commerce over the past year, fulfillment centers have been under fire to become faster, more efficient operations. Businesses were forced to invest in cutting-edge technologies to stay ahead of their competition. The outcome has been immense advancements in automation technology that have streamlined, and improved fulfillment centers capabilities.
The most common fulfillment technology we encounter is order fulfillment software. This software allows your business to process orders from customers and prepare them for shipment from any business location. This technology automates inventory and warehouse management operations resulting in more efficient order fulfillment.
Fulfillment software also integrates with warehouse systems providing data in real-time. This level of transparency throughout the fulfillment process allows businesses to stay in the know on order fulfillment, tracking, inventory, and even delivery, guiding strategy, and staying ahead of disruptions.
Size doesn’t matter
With the right foundation, the size and frequency of your shipments become less important. When you don’t have the right setup, these details can waste time and money. To ensure that your fulfillment center is maximizing your resources, your shipment strategy, though fluid, needs to be established. There are three main areas to focus on:
- Rates and methods: With more and more businesses offering free shipping, it’s hard to not play the game. This means that your company will absorb some of the shipping costs, but will ultimately drive revenue for your business
- Size and weight: Using technology, like fulfillment software, will help determine the size and weight of each of your products, alleviating fulfillment and packaging issues during processing. As new SKUs are added, you can easily manage and track size and weight through the software program and have exact measurements and details available when you need them.
- Packaging: Packaging is extremely important when it comes to fulfillment. From heavy-duty boxes to small plastic slip bags, packaging can be costly and in turn, add drive up your shipping costs, but cutting cost on packaging materials can also result in damaged goods and unhappy customers
Once these key areas are determined, the relationship between shipping and fulfillment begins to work harmoniously, increasing efficiency and driving profitability. It’s easy to see how all the working parts come together, much like the offense and defense of the Green Bay Packers, to achieve a higher goal, in this case, a fully operational, highly productive fulfillment center.
Here at WSI, we offer specialized fulfillment services to B2C and B2B industries. Our 3PL capabilities can transform your existing supply chain into a robust system allowing your company to stay ahead of the game. Our fulfillment experts work with your team of leaders to run the ball across the end zone. Contact WSI today to discuss what we can do for your eCommerce operations.