Tips for Selecting a Warehousing and Fulfillment Partner
Shippers know that competing in today’s business environment demands more agility than ever. Changing consumer demands are putting pressure on supply chains, triggering shippers to shift their approach to both warehousing and transportation. Rather than relying on full truckloads delivering into regional DC’s, shippers are relying on more frequent less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments, originating from a larger number of warehouses (or even retail locations) located as close to the consumer as possible.
This shift has caused ripples throughout the supply chain, driving changing expectations in the B2B space as well. Competition for customers is intense, transportation costs require constant vigilance, and growth is often hard-won. Even when you are winning, effectively managing and sustaining that growth is a real challenge.
Simply put, selecting your warehouse location(s), and a partner to help manage your warehousing and fulfillment needs, is one of the most important decisions you can make for sustaining the health of your business. Here are a few tips for selecting the right partner for your current needs- and your needs in the future.
- Integrated Solutions: Storing your products is only one part of the warehousing and fulfillment equation. Rather than getting locked in with a warehouse provider that only provides space, consider partnering with a 3PL that offers a full spectrum of fulfillment and transportation solutions. First, there are clear synergies that can be realized by selecting a partner that can provide both warehousing and transportation services, resulting in greater efficiencies, enhanced visibility, and lower costs. Second, as your business grows and changes, your needs will undoubtedly change as well. While you may not have a need today for specialized services such as assembly, kitting, or reverse logistics, you may very well identify a need for these services in the future. Experience shows that when the need arises, it is often urgent- you have customer needs to satisfy, and time is critical. Selecting a partner today that can offer a full suite of solutions may save you the hassle of finding a new partner in the future.
- Flexibility: In warehousing, scale is critical, and again, selecting the right partner has as much to do with your future needs as it does with your current challenges. Partnering with a provider that has immediate access to a large volume of warehouse locations nationwide provides you with the flexibility you need when you need it. While you might not need 50M+ square feet of warehouse space today, you’ll rest easier knowing that your warehousing partner has plenty of space and warehouse locations to support your growth.
- Technology: Whether you utilize a single location or multiple warehouses, a robust Warehouse Management System (WMS) is essential. The WMS not only helps manage inventory- it becomes a source for business intelligence and reporting, allowing you to track inventory turns, inventory on-hand, outbound orders and more. Shippers should seek a warehousing and fulfillment partner that can provide a WMS that is easy to implement and integrate with your ERP, TMS, order management, e-commerce or other business systems.
To discuss your warehousing and fulfillment challenges with our expert team, contact GlobalTranz at firstname.lastname@example.org.