Using third-party warehousing and fulfillment can truly allow fast-growing companies to thrive and scale fast. They can also allow highly seasonal companies to accommodate and ship large volumes of products during peak season. While costing very little, during the off-season, to maintain the ability to use the warehouse’s services when needed.
Depending on the location of your business, opposite coast warehouse and fulfillment centers can offer companies a drastic time and cost reduction to ship to their end clients. So if you want to understand the warehousing services most good 3PL warehouse and fulfillment centers can provide your company, read on.
You might also like some of our historic warehousing service articles here.
Devanning or Unloading
Devanning is the process of offloading the contents of your products from inbound containers from overseas factories, or truckloads from your domestic production facility. Generally, a 3PL warehouse will already have a copy of your item master and will have uploaded it into its Warehouse Management Software. Making it fairly easy and automated to verify the contents against your inbound container’s packing slip. Generally, if the contents of the inbound shipment do not match the packing slip, the warehouse will notify you before uploading the inventory into its WMS, palletizing it, and putting it away in storage.
If your items are pre-sold or consist of a lot of pre-orders. 3PL warehouses can generally facilitate a cross-docking service. Where the warehouse will simply offload the contents, cross pack if necessary, and label outbound shipments for pick up immediately via parcel or freight. Cross-docking can also provide a more economical way to ship large quantities of pre-ordered goods to the opposite coast of the country.
Palletizing and Putting Away
If goods are not pre-sold or pertain to pre-season orders, generally the warehouse and fulfillment center will palletize the goods and put them away by sku using a forklift. Goods are generally stored in racks if possible and bulk stacked if necessary. However, bulk storage is way less efficient for maximizing the warehouse’s true capacity, so it generally costs more per item per month. Standard racked pallet positions are generally 40x48x 56 inches or so.
Monthly Storage in racks or bulk/floor stored
Once the 3PL warehouse puts your goods away they generally charge you per pallet per month stored. This can seem expensive at first, but you are truly only paying for the space you are utilizing and nothing more. Additionally, if you are a highly seasonal business, paying for only monthly storage per pallet, can provide you all kinds of benefits compared to having your own warehouse. As you only pay for whatever products/pallets are left during your slow seasons, greatly reducing your fixed costs during slow seasons.
Once your company receives a new order, that order is generally transmitted over to the 3PL warehouse and fulfillment centers WMS via API, CSV, or perhaps even via email. The warehouse management software then checks to make sure you have sufficient stock to fulfill and ship the order, and then release the order to be prepped and shipped. This process also keeps accurate track of your inventory for future sales and orders. Many times we have seen that our 3Pl warehouse management systems are more transparent and easy to use than our client’s internal inventory setups.
Pick and Pack Order Prep
Once the orders are released your 3PL warehouse will generally pick the items in the order and repack them if necessary into a large consolidated box for outbound shipping. In the case of bikes or surfboards or other larger products, we can sometimes slip accessories into the master box without having to rebox all items and save a bit of money and time. Regardless once the items are picked and packed the order is generally ready for shipment booking
Shipment Booking and Shipment Prep
Once the order is packed and ready generally the warehouse will measure and weigh the boxes or pallets for accurate shipment quoting and booking. Depending on what shipment mode the order is utilizing this can be fairly easy or a bit more complicated. Parcel or ground shipment generally are pretty straight forward traveling by size and weight. However, LTL freight shipments can be a bit more complex, as most freight carriers make you rate your freight shipment by freight class from 50-500 or at least density. If you would like to understand our best practices for getting freight quotes see another article we recently wrote
The warehouse services will also provide for any last-minute box or pallet prep for shipping. So that the products are secure as possible and to protect against transit-related damages.
Depending on the warehouse and the size and weight of the orders, ground versus larger palletized freight-sized orders. The warehouse services may call for an outbound handling fee per box or per pallet moved to the dock doors for shipping pick up. This warehouse service is generally provided once the shipments have been booked. The warehouse will then transport or handle the shipments to the edge of the docks for easy pick up by shipping carriers.
You might also like this additional info from a recent article on warehousing and logistics here.
If your shipment requires any special labeling like Hazardous stickers etc the warehouse will apply those. We have also applied labels for high-value items, highly damageable items, do not stack, and notify end clients to thoroughly inspect their shipment before signing the delivery receipt. With the rise of other large online sales channels. Drop shipping orders for other large online retailers like Walmart and Amazon, labeling requirements have become more commonplace
Depending on how new your product is, some clients will ask to have their 3PL warehouse provide Quality Control Services. Generally, clients will provide pictures or short video training for what they would like the warehouse staff to check in particular. But as with all things, most any warehouse service can be provided as long as the client and warehouse can agree to a fair price and process for each type of work.
If your products arrive by SKU in bulk, but ultimately ship comingled into the same basic mix the warehouse can provide kitting services. This generally entails warehouse employees picking each item and re-boxing all items in bulk quantities for outbound shipping easy. Most warehouses charge for kitting projects by the hours it takes to pick and pack in bulk. We generally perform some sort of time trial, to see approximately how long it will take to kit each order and then agree to an approximate time and cost per kit.
Special Projects and Hourly Labor
Special projects and hourly labor warehouse services are generally reserved for anything that is outside of normal warehousing and client scope. Most of the time when we encounter or are asked to perform a special project. We quote the requirement by the time it should require and our hourly labor rate. Once the client has agreed to our assessment, we then facilitate the special project.
We generally see this in cases where items come in wrongly packed and we need to unbox and repack products. Products come in mislabeled and we have to re-label whole containers worth of products or things of that nature. It can be anything, but you just want to make sure your 3PL warehouse has the flexibility of providing special project services. You also want to make sure you get ala carte pricing upfront for most or all conceivable
Amazon and Walmar.com and other sales channel fulfillment
With the rise of larger online retailers like Amazon and Walmart.com we have seen a whole host of new drop ship and fulfillment requirements. Many times smaller companies can earn their way into these large online sales eco-systems by being able to drop ship off of those platforms sales to their end customers. It’s a little more complex from a warehouse’s perspective perhaps. But it allows smaller companies to leverage massive sales traffic of these larger online sites to grow their business faster.
API E-Commerce and ERP Connectivity to WMS
Most technology forward warehouse and fulfillment provides will have easy, robust, online tools to manage orders and inventory levels. In most cases, modern Warehouse management software is most easily connected via API or application protocol interface. API is basically a standard language that allows different software and platforms to communicate back and forth easily. This could involve your E-Commerce site pushing orders to the warehouse’s WMS or your ERP software pushing bulk orders to the warehouse for picking and shipping
Let Easy Logistics Management and its warehousing partners take better care of your warehousing service needs!
We have been involved in providing warehousing services for over a decade now. We have strategically located warehouse and fulfillment centers within a 1-2 day transit time of most anywhere your orders need to ship. Our warehouses have easy online and very easily connected API enable Warehouse management software. We also have some of the best outbound shipping discounts.
Whether it be UPS and Fedex ground rates, or deep freight shipping discounts with all top carriers. Our deeply discounted shipping rates, comingled with our top-notch warehousing services should make our offering a win-win for any company. It is my company, we are looking to grow, and we would be honored to look at helping you get set up and managing your warehousing services needs.
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