Fulfillment services and warehousing so often go hand in hand. Both tend to fall under the blanket term for third-party logistics providers—3PL for short—which is essentially outsourcing specific services. While warehousing and fulfillment services are usually lumped together they are completely separate and stand-alone operations. Some providers, like IFS, are a one-stop shop for these services, while others are more of a cherry-picking deal. But not all 3PLs do the same thing, and certainly don’t cost the same.
For some companies, fulfillment services and warehousing are a necessary evil, but finding the right provider can be an absolute game-changer. To understand what you need from your warehouse and fulfillment service provider, first, you have to understand what each accomplishes.
Fulfillment services are the heavy lifter of the two arms of this operation. Fulfillment services can include bulk product creation, primary and secondary packaging, as well as actual distribution of goods. The bigger your business gets the more unwieldy order fulfillment can get. It’s easy for fulfillment to get out of hand, things to get backed up, and quality to suffer if you’re attempting to go it alone. Trusting order fulfillment to professionals has the potential to pay for itself over time.
Along with creating, fulfillment services also take care of the packaging of your product. To state the obvious, the packaging is what keeps your products safe. Things like blister packaging, heat sealing, and boxing are what go into primary packaging. The safety elements of fulfillment services are rarely given a second thought by the consumer but are vital to distributors. While you may have a good system in place on your own, a facility specifically designed for fulfillment will simply be able to do more.
Despite the old adage, everyone judges books by their covers, which is why packaging is so important. We’ve gone over the importance of primary packaging, but secondary packaging is part of the most important part of a business—sales. Secondary packaging is the branded portion of fulfillment services. Boxes and wraps with your name and logo on them, extra coupons on store shelves, and the like are what secondary packaging is all about. This aspect of fulfillment services is what will draw consumers to your products and get you remembered for their future purchases.
Once your product is packaged, it needs somewhere to go. Fulfillment services, like Impact Fulfillment Services, also offer assistance in distribution. No more shuttling your own product from the kitchen to the distributor. Bringing on a fulfillment service will get your products in the best shape possible and get them to where it needs to go.
All of the great things that come with fulfillment services would mean little if there’s no place to keep everything. For the most part, 3PLs deal in bulk packaging, rather than smaller orders. Bigger orders mean the need for more space. Finding space for your product is a problem that can be easily sorted out by bringing on a warehousing service.
With a good warehouse in the picture, you will be able to keep more of your product ready for distribution. Having more products at the ready will cut down on the time it takes to restock, so customers will never be left wanting. Being able to mass-produce your product is great, but you want to make sure it’s being kept safe as well. Warehouses like those built by Impact Fulfillment Services are climate-controlled and the perfect place to keep your products safe and ready.
Warehousing seems a simple enough venture, but these facilities are anything but. The tech behind warehouses lends to safety as well as inventory. Keeping track of all of the units you have on the shelves will never be easier than it is with a warehouse.
Fulfillment services and warehouses can exist separately from one another but work best as a package. An all-inclusive 3PL experience is the easiest way to handle all of your fulfillment, distribution, and storage needs. Impact Fulfillment Services offers everything under one roof. Warehousing and fulfillment services can rack up quite the cost. But IFS offers competitive rates for the services. Top of the line across the board, IFS has streamlined every process and put in place check systems to keep your product perfect. If your business is ready to take the next, and one of the biggest, look to IFS to give you the best offer around.
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There are several attributes that are greatly desirable in the warehousing world, and the top of the list is transparency. Transparency, especially in co-packing and warehousing, is fundamental for good business practices. If a company is outsourcing the packaging and distribution of its product to an entirely different entity, there is a natural amount of hesitation involved. The only way to alleviate these nerves is to be upfront at every turn.
IFS takes special care to make sure its warehousing practices are as transparent as possible. Being known as a trustworthy and transparent company is worth its weight in gold to any brand. The success and reputation of a brand are directly linked. Having return customers and good word of mouth is a reliable path to success. The importance of transparency cannot be undersold, particularly in warehousing.
The first step to true transparency, in business and in life, is communication. Effective communication includes quick and concise responses and well-informed responses. Having a role, like a client solutions analyst for IFS, on the floor helps with troubleshooting the onboarding process for each client. A client solution analyst will set up project trackers, including milestones and any foreseeable issues, and create a link between client and company. Having this kind of liaison in place is the easiest way to promote clear communication and transparency. Not only does this kind of communication help keep the client abreast, but it can also help to reveal shortcomings on the operational side, like reducing redundancies.
Communication creates a good relationship between customers and businesses. Secret keeping and covering tracks never works in the long term, and always comes back in the end. Honesty in how companies and clients communicate will create better business relationships. Being a warehousing company with a reputation for open channels of communication is a good spot to be in. This element of transparency might seem simple enough, but proper communication does require dedication and commitment. Promoting communication at every level of business, internal and between analyst and client, will not only improve a business’s reputation but their day-to-day productivity as well.
Modeling is a price structuring tool that is the pinnacle of transparency in business. When setting up a model all variables are taken into account. For warehousing and co-packing these price variables include things like whether the order is palletized, or needs to be palletized, the count of the entire order, what exactly needs to be picked, and the like. Additionally, on the warehousing side, things like inbound and outbound handling and storage of completed orders must be taken into account. All of these costs are compiled into a model and the proper rate is tabulated and presented to the client. Even if these prices are a simple estimate and subject to change, customers know where they stand.
Pricing and money are huge components and outsourcing in general, everyone wants to know what they’re paying for. Modeling allows for that level of transparency. There are no questions and no surprises when a model is in use because everything is taken into account and presented in black and white. Warehousing and co-packing can come with all kinds of hidden costs, the best way to get ahead of that stigma and be completely transparent is through modeling.
Short of actually being on the floor, reporting is the best way for clients to keep tabs on their orders. For IFS, dashboard reporting is tracking essentially everything that happens in the warehouse and beyond. Inputs and outputs, orders received and shipped, orders picked, and any discrepancies that pop up along the way are all tracked and reported on.
Customers have access to their data through a personalized dashboard that gives them the data they need to make decisions without having to be directly connected to the operation. Customers can track their orders either on the granular level or as an overall order, depending on their preference. To simplify, companies can track each and every step their order takes, from who has their hands on what and movement throughout the entire process, or just the big milestones. These analytics are compiled into user-friendly tracking dashboards that can be accessed by both client and company. At IFS, all of this information is updated in real-time to be as transparent as possible. IFS also reports on any potential delays from the jump, so there are no surprises or misunderstandings.
Having access to all of this will help clients prepare on their end. If they know a shipment is due soon, or that a delay is expected, they will prep their sales teams or make any necessary adjustments. Reporting on every aspect of the process is true transparency, and more than that promotes accountability. Giving clients access to everything that happens in the warehouse can seem risky, but withholding information or making false promises will always fail.
A transparent approach in a warehouse setting makes for happier and more at ease clients. Partnering with a co-packer or warehouse can sometimes be a risk, but being a company that doesn’t shy away from communication will always help your brand. Transparency not only helps create better company/client relationships but also has the potential to provide information that can improve internal functions.
Transparency in warehousing is the best way to create a stellar relationship, understand your own business better, and keep a machine well-oiled.
To learn more about our warehousing services, speak to a specialist!
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