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What Is a Contract Warehouse?

What Is Contract Warehousing?

A contract warehouse is a third-party logistics (3PL) storage facility that stores goods on behalf of a client. The client and the warehouse enter into a contract, which can range from months to years. The agreement may have a fixed fee structure or operate on a cost-plus model. Contract warehouses can also perform many other services, such as handling, packing, labeling, fulfillment and similar activities. Let’s talk more about this potential solution for your long-term storage needs and how to find warehouse contracts that will work in your favor.

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Contract Warehousing Defined

Many companies need to store their goods or supplies for various reasons, and contract warehousing is one of the many dedicated storage options to choose from. Companies that don’t want to build, buy or rent their own warehouse space can enter into a third-party warehouse agreement with an outside provider who specializes in dedicated warehousing. This third-party warehouse provider will handle the storage, shipping and receiving of merchandise on behalf of their client. They can also add value by taking on more logistical tasks such as inventory management and making sure to follow distribution best practices.

Differences Between Contract Warehousing and Other Options

One of the main differences between contract warehousing and other popular options like shared warehouse space or private warehousing is that a contract warehouse is dedicated to a sole client. All the dedicated warehouse’s resources and the entire facility go toward one company’s goods. The tenant commits to occupying that fixed space and relies on the contract warehouse to manage it. Because of this factor, contract warehouses usually require their clients to commit to a specific contract length, often months or years.

There are two other variations on the contract warehousing model. The first is when the contract warehouse company owns the physical facility and allows the tenant company to operate it with their own employees and equipment. In the other alternative, the client owns or leases the warehouse facility and hires a contract warehouse to staff it and handle all operations. Contract warehouses may also parcel out a larger facility for several contract clients. In this arrangement, the contract will dedicate a certain amount of square footage and resources to each client.

Contract Warehousing

 

Types of Warehousing Options Explained

When your business needs more storage capacity, you have three types of warehousing options. They include:

  • Private warehousing: When a wholesaler or manufacturer uses a private warehouse, it owns or leases the warehouse building and is 100% responsible for managing inventory and warehouse operations. This approach is highly involved and requires a hefty investment compared to other warehousing options. Typically, it takes 30 years to see a return on investment when a company builds a private warehouse.
  • Public warehousing: Under public warehousing or shared warehouse space, the client does not contract for a dedicated amount of space or resources. Instead, they share the warehouse with other clients. They pay a monthly bill based on the number of pallets that come in and out so they can occupy more or less warehouse space depending on their inventory needs. While the client only pays for the space they use, the warehouse operates on a first-come, first-served basis. A public warehouse may not always have the space you need if your inventory fluctuates often. Usually, these warehouses work best for short-term storage needs, such as seasonal inventory.
  • Contract warehousing: Contract warehousing, also known as dedicated warehousing, is when a company outsources warehouse operations to a larger facility or 3PL. Since a contract warehouse dedicates a certain amount of space on a long-term basis, it’s the best option for companies with a consistent inventory volume. Contracts usually last years so they work well for medium- and long-term storage needs.

 

Benefits of Contract Warehousing

For many customers, contract warehousing is the perfect balance between the total freedom and control of owning a private warehouse and the low cost and low involvement of using a shared warehouse. Some of the advantages of third party contract warehouse agreements include:

1. Lower Capital Investment

Consider that in New York City, it cost an average of $117 per square foot to construct a new warehouse or logistics center. The average newly built warehouse is just shy of 185,000 square feet, so constructing a new warehouse is typically a multimillion-dollar investment. While real estate costs are a little lower here in North Carolina, warehouse investments are too costly for most businesses to justify. Setting up an existing building for warehousing also requires investments in warehousing equipment like forklifts.

When you choose to contract your warehouse space, the warehouse space is readily available without the high cost of construction, renovations or equipment. When you hire a warehouse, you can use it for a shorter time frame to meet your current needs. When your contract is up, you can choose to contract for more space if needed without another significant upfront investment.

2. Lower Costs and Fees

Contract warehouse companies are experts at what they do. Often, they can develop strategies to make your storage, logistics and fulfillment more efficient, resulting in cost savings. For example, at Crown LSP Group, we can perform transportation and logistics services alongside value-added warehousing services. By keeping all these operations under one roof, where an expert logistics team can manage everything closely, you’ll save money and time.

Meanwhile, when leasing or owning a warehouse, the property usually comes with many fees and expenses. Utilities, building maintenance and property taxes can all add unpredictable costs to your monthly bills. When you choose a contract warehouse, all the costs you’ll incur will appear upfront in your written warehousing agreements. You can enjoy predictable overhead and share costs like utilities and maintenance with other contracted clients.

3. Value-Added Services

One excellent benefit of a contract warehouse over a public warehouse is that it can provide a dedicated workforce. While a public warehouse is mostly concerned with keeping its storage at full capacity, a contract warehouse knows it can rely on predictable storage needs and assign more resources to individual clients. For example, some companies need temperature-controlled storage facilities, which require expert monitoring from dedicated staff members. When you have a contracted staff committed to managing your goods, they can also offer other valuable services such as:

  • Cross-docking: Cross-docking improves supply chain efficiency by reducing the time products spend in storage. It helps you get products to your customers faster and is extremely effective for companies in the consumer goods industry. For example, at Crown LSP Group, we can build personalized cross-docking solutions for your shipments. We’ll receive deliveries at our warehouse, organize them or break them down into smaller shipments right away, and send them out on the next available outbound trucks. That way, shipments spend less time in storage, which reduces handling, storage costs and inventory management needs.
  • Pick-and-pack: Pick-and-pack is a complex e-commerce order fulfillment strategy where warehouse workers will pull items for many customer orders at once and then pack them all for shipment. This method lets you prepare e-commerce orders and get them ready to ship quickly, so you can guarantee faster delivery times. An e-commerce order fulfillment company like Crown LSP Group can develop an effective pick-and-pack solution for your warehoused products.
  • Rework: If you ship in products from a manufacturer in another country, it costs a lot of time and money to send back damaged items that need to be reworked. Entering into a third-party warehouse agreement can help mitigate minor rework issues, such as reprinting labels or instruction manuals, replacing broken or missing components or repackaging items. This improves supply chain efficiency by taking care of product quality concerns right from your stateside warehouse.
  • Palletization: A contract warehouse can also organize incoming shipments onto pallets or break down and rearrange products on existing pallets. Depending on your needs, Crown LSP Group can store your products on pallets for long-term storage or prepare them for their next destination.
  • Advanced inventory management: E-commerce businesses and manufacturers that frequently ship goods in and out of their warehouses need to track what’s in stock and what they need to reorder. Contract warehouses can record valuable inventory data like real-time available quantities, current locations, serial numbers and manufacturing dates to streamline inventory management operations. Dedicated warehouse providers add value to inventory management with advanced warehousing support like helping you set a sustainable safety stock level for your products. Many companies find they need more safety stock to get ahead of potential supplier delays, and we can advise you on an amount that makes sense for you.
  • Greater reliability: Many businesses choose to work with a contract warehouse so they can continue focusing on their core strengths. You can leverage the expertise of a dedicated warehouse, which can develop personalized solutions for your business. This partnership eliminates the growing pains of learning how to operate a warehouse internally. A contract warehouse dedicates a set amount of warehouse space and personnel to your business, so you can rely on having the storage space you need at all times.

 

Resolved your contract warehousing concerns

 

Resolve Your Warehousing Concerns With Crown LSP Group

Crown LSP Group is flexible, reliable and committed to finding the solutions that work best for you. We recognize that while most businesses benefit from using a 3PL contract warehouse, every company uses these services a little differently. As your expert warehousing partner, we’ll act as an extension of your staff and personalize our solutions to serve your operation best.

We have the contact warehouse capabilities to accommodate several locations across the east coast. These include contact warehouse space near:

Learn more about contracting warehouse space through our third-party logistics services and reach out online to request a quote.

Request a Quote Today

 

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How Do Value-Added Services (VAS) Add Value?

How Do Value-Added Services (VAS) Add Value?

Value-added services in logistics allow businesses to provide more comprehensive benefits, which has become an essential tool in increasing customer satisfaction. Using these services is especially vital in operations based on customer trust. Supply chain and logistics are some of the most competitive sectors and adding value can give your organization an edge.

Value-Added Services (VAS) Defined

The term value-added services refer to the additional distribution and warehousing services offered by third-party logistics providers to business looking to outsource their supply chain operations.

Whenever logistics providers add value the right way, it affects the level of customer satisfaction, while indirectly increasing their bottom line. Service providers know the ins and outs of the business and they can assist companies in responding to customers’ needs. Companies partnering with value-added logistics providers can focus on their core business and work on being more competent in the market. Value-adding is not a one-time task — it requires continuous maintenance and 3PLs are working toward providing value-added services in conjunction with their more traditional offerings.

Adding value to your packaging and transportation process can give your company an edge in the market and enable you to stand out from the competition. Service providers offer a range of contributions that add value to your brand, but how do they do that? And is it advantageous? Let’s look at some offerings and how they can benefit your organization.

How Do Value-Added Services Help My Business’s Supply Chain & Logistics?

Forward-thinking companies use their supply chain to gain market share and get ahead of their competitors. Spending time and resources to keep this supply chain smooth has become a notable trend in the logistics industry. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs work toward maintaining supply chain excellence, and it has become a widely accepted business strategy in today’s market. Value-added logistics services are not only for customers but also for management. Consider these reasons behind the importance of common supply chain value-added services.

Staying in the competition and emerging on top will require a redesign of supply chains and traditional methods.

1. Increased Price Pressures and Competition

Previously, brand recognition and product features were more than enough to set companies apart but things have shifted. After commoditizing several products in the market, organizations need better methods to stand apart.

Brand equity and product innovation are no longer the only tools that can allow a business to set a higher selling price. Staying in the competition and emerging on top will require a redesign of supply chains and traditional methods.

Companies are using two methods to adapt to this trend. First, they assess cost-reduction strategies and create new techniques to build a more efficient value chain. These changes will allow them to retain a competitive edge. Second, companies are searching for strategies to provide value-added services that will enable them to meet savvy customers’ demands.

2. Outsourcing

As the market evolves, many companies are taking a step back to evaluate their core competency and some organizations realize that outsourcing part of the supply chain can be beneficial.

The marketplace continues to revolve around three pillars:

  1. Cost and quality of global manufacturing and distribution
  2. Information mediums and systems
  3. Product design capabilities

By outsourcing their supply chain and logistics operations, companies can breathe new life into their business. Still, without the correct systems, processes or organization management, the risk can rise to unmanageable levels. When their business model relies too heavily on outsourcing, companies must implement solutions to make up for off-site supply chain capabilities. The need for details becomes the foremost priority in an outsourced logistics environment.

3. More Complex and Shortened Product Lifecycles

Companies are under significant pressure to develop cutting-edge products and launch them to market quickly, without maximizing or compromising the integrity of their high-demand existing products. To meet this ever-growing need, companies require streamlined product lifecycle management processes, which emphasize new product launches, product discontinuation and design.

The primary benefit of product lifecycle management technology and processes is that it helps companies design products that can share components, operations or materials — reducing the risk of obsolescence write-offs, ensuring optimal use of all infrastructure investments and limiting increased costs when buying essential materials. In addition to all these benefits, it will also shorten the time to market. Companies can focus on product lifecycle management efforts in all these areas and buffer themselves against the risk of any unexpected cost increases, spontaneous obsolescence write-offs and underwhelming product launches. These practices will also enhance customer perception of your company and establish yourself as an innovative reformer.

Top benefits of using value added services

Top Benefits of Using Value-Added Services for Your Business

You can find several positive reasons to consider a 3PL provider for value-added logistics services. Here are a few notable benefits of value-added services that can readily translate to a competitive advantage for your business.

1. Flexibility

The most significant benefit of using a 3PL provider is flexibility. Partnering with them will allow you more flexibility in labor, space and equipment. They can offer all these components to enable you to meet your customers’ requirements more effectively. Some 3PL providers also offer extra physical space for a specific time as a value-added service, which could be a warehouse for storing rush inventory or a meeting space for discussing on-the-fly software updates. Labor resources are also available as part of value-added services. If any of your product campaigns require a more hands-on approach to attract your audience’s attention, a 3PL can quickly shift their staff to your project and keep your labor cost to a bare minimum.

2. Quality

A 3PL’s added-value services department is primarily a team of specifically trained staff who can assist you in executing specialized projects. With the assistance of a dedicated professional team working or overseeing any customization, you can focus on quality and work efficiency. The value-adding team provided by a trusted 3PL provider might collaborate with customers. They can outline the project, ensure accuracy and precision and take the necessary steps to complete the project on time.

3. Ease of Integration

Partnering with a 3PL provider’s value-added services enables the seller or company to work with one partner for all their logistics needs. A reliable 3PL can assist you in managing warehousing, transportation and all the value-added services you need. This help can make the process more seamless to integrate any updates or changes along the way. Keeping the product in a single fulfillment center can also minimize the cost of moving products and transportation.

Types of Value-Added Services That Improve Your Competitiveness

Types of Value-Added Supply Chain Services

In warehousing and distribution, value-added services go further than normal operations and can set you apart from your competition. Among these types of activities are cross-docking, transloading, palletizing, kitting, and return processing.

Here are some value-added service examples that decrease your costs and impact your business operations.

Cross-Docking

A cross-docking system allows companies to move products directly from the receiving dock to the shipping dock. This streamlined method saves space and eases manual handling in the distribution center. Cross-docking requires close synchronization of all outbound and inbound shipping movements and reduces the cost by decreasing stockpiling. Cross-docking also involves re-packing, inspection and labeling.

Transloading

The process of transloading requires more than one transport mode. Businesses primarily use this solution when one mode of transport, like land, air or sea, is insufficient to deliver the goods from the origin point to the destination. International shipments, which require multiple modes of transportation, are the best example of transloading. The international shipment process usually begins by air or sea, followed by a truck.

Transloading lets you arrange and sort the shipments before delivering them to the distribution center or warehouse. This streamlined process removes any expensive or unnecessary land transportation. All shipments get grouped upon arrival, eliminating the need for any distribution center.

Transloading also enables your business to save money by removing any less-than-truckload costs. In addition to benefiting the companies, the process is also speedier, thus bringing your customers more satisfaction. You can reach different areas with transloading by using various local and international shipment methods, increasing business possibilities and growth.

Palletizing

In palletizing, you place items or goods on pallets. Depending on the business and product, you may use manual, semi-automated or fully automated methods to put the shipments on pallets. Moving palletized products is more efficient, with a quicker delivery turnaround. With palletizing, you can move perishable goods faster and decrease the risk of spoilage. The palletizing process also reduces labor requirements.

With standard pallet sizes, you can optimize warehouse workflow and operations. Palletizing significantly reduces the risk of worker injury. Since the pallets are more durable than other shipping containers, they can allow you to carry more products at a single time.

Order Fulfillment Services

Order fulfillment services provide the highest customer satisfaction among all the value-added services, and it is one of the top value-added services in logistics. These services can simplify your supply chain and allow you to move your products faster. The order fulfillment services can help you delight your customers with a streamlined process and faster deliveries. This service includes in-house packaging with the latest technology tools. Order fulfillment services perfectly handle labeling and new product launches. When you employ a trusted partner’s help, you can increase your efficiency in handling operations and save a substantial amount of money on purchasing and maintaining expensive equipment.

Return Processing

Returns can cause financial and logistics problems, but they are an unavoidable part of doing business. Returns can require substantial effort and time and sometimes companies can get themselves in trouble trying to handle them. With value-added services, you can outsource your return processing. These service providers have dedicated warehouses and ample personnel to process and manage the returns as required. When a return arrives, workers scan it into the system to determine whether it’s possible to resell. Quick action can keep your business reputation intact and monitor the return patterns for insights.

Pick and Pack

Pick and pack is part of the order fulfillment process, but sometimes you need to pay some extra attention to ensure uniform packing and delivery of all products. A pick-and-pack service can streamline all your packages and deliver them before the expected date. Value-added service providers have the latest technology that assists them in finding the best route and double-checking the delivery address to reduce any chances of mistakes.

Kitting

The kitting process includes combining multiple products into a simple and easy-to-pick package. The process works in many ways, whether it’s banding two similar items or creating an integrated solution by pairing two commonly purchased products. This solution can significantly reduce transportation costs and delivery time. It can also slash your company’s combined costs.

What Are Customized Value-Added Service Solutions?

Value-added services can transform your supply chain, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Service providers must understand a supply chain’s business model and weak spots. With an effective solution, you can optimize your supply chain’s operations.

Besides solving logistical challenges, an expert service provider can also provide other long-term benefits. Customized value-added services can build delivery models that will improve inventory and transportation costs, enhancing your operations and saving time and money.

Value-added service solutions can work on distribution channels to address your company’s trucking capacity and assist you with time-sensitive deliveries. Service providers can offer consultations and innovative solutions to address your trade landscape and warehousing requirements.

A significant benefit of customizing value-added services is an improvement of the supply chain by finding discrepancies in the process and taking corrective measures to improve them, so you can focus on customer satisfaction by providing optimum services.

Crown LSP Group Can Be Your One-Stop Solution for Managing Your Supply Chain

Choose Crown LSP for Managing Your Supply Chain

When you go toe-to-toe with your competition, it’s essential to partner with service providers who take care of your fundamental requirements while offering insights on distribution best practices to help you stand out from the competition. Being able to offer value-added services has become the latest norm in the constantly evolving market. Partnering with a reliable logistics service provider is paramount in optimizing your supply chain and distribution channel. Your partner should understand your business’s unique needs and deliver on them to achieve quantifiable results.

At Crown LSP Group, we can assist you with our value-added offerings and establish your business in the market. Take a look at the wide range of solutions we provide and get in touch with us for a customized value-added solution.

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Trends in Consumer Goods and Retail Supply Chains

Trends in Consumer Goods and Retail Supply Chains

The consumer goods and retail market has seen some new challenges in the last few years, spearheading the rapid adoption of innovative technology and new business strategies to help companies stay competitive. A particular area seeing a massive transformation is the supply chain. Consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands and retailers alike are working to bolster their supply chains against growing risks, improve resiliency and better meet customers’ needs and expectations.

Let’s talk about some of the retail and consumer goods supply chain trends that are seeing huge success and changing the industry for the better.

1. Importance of Location to Customers

The location of strategic links in your supply chain is critical to your end customers, even if they do not even know where they are. While businesses employ many strategies to optimize their supply chains, locations play a critical role.

Better locations can reduce shipping and transportation costs. If you charge for shipping, your customers will appreciate the lower costs, and if you include shipping for free, you can still pass on cost savings and sell your goods for a more competitive price. Strategic locations also make it easier to get your products into customers’ hands faster.

Distribution Centers

One of the latest consumer retail distribution trends involves strategically adding more distribution centers to fulfill two-day, direct-to-consumer shipping alongside traditional retail deliveries. In physical retail, a prime distribution center location means you can restock bulk orders quickly, ensuring your goods are always in stock in your customers preferred retail locations.

In e-commerce, having a warehouse and fulfillment center in a central location allows you to speed up delivery times. Online shoppers expect their items to arrive in just a few days in today’s economy, and the expected delivery window is shrinking. In 2019, 40% of holiday shoppers indicated that they would expect their deliveries within two days, and 18% were only willing to wait for next-day delivery. Having items in stock at a nearby location allows you to meet those ever-increasing delivery speed demands and shorten last-mile delivery distances, saving both time and money.

in 2019, 40% of holiday shoppers indicated that they would expect their deliveries within two days

However, there’s one caveat for picking locations for consumer goods distribution and fulfillment. The closer you get to densely populated cities, the higher warehousing real estate costs by the square foot. A good strategy is to locate a distribution center in an area where it’s more affordable to rent space that still has excellent access to your customer base.

North Carolina represents an excellent opportunity for a CPG distribution center that offers the best of both worlds. It’s centrally located along the east coast, making for a short travel distance to the southeastern and northeastern United States alike. A distribution center in North Carolina offers easy access to an international shipping port and sits within 700 miles of 70% of the U.S.’s industrial base.

Manufacturing Facilities and Suppliers

There’s also a critical tradeoff in location for manufacturing — offshoring versus near-shoring. Offshoring lets CPGs take advantage of low production costs in emerging markets around the globe, providing higher margins even with the high costs of international shipping and trade tariffs.

However, offshoring introduces risk in the supply chain. Political unrest, natural disasters and extended shipping times can all cause disruptions in the supply chain. They make it impossible to source products from a usual supplier. Long shipping times, as is common when items ship by boat, can make it more difficult for consumer goods brands to react to new trends in their home markets.

Near-shoring some or all of your manufacturers and suppliers can be a helpful strategy in minimizing risks, shortening travel time between supply chain links and improving flexibility. If a particular product is underperforming and your company wants to pivot to another product or include gifts to boost sales, having suppliers and manufacturers closer to the point of sale lets them make this transition quickly. A company that relies only on offshore suppliers may have to wait weeks for their new products to arrive.

Having nearby suppliers is vital for customers who are looking for the next big thing and want it quickly. Further, many Americans specifically seek out U.S.-manufactured products to support local businesses.

2. Customer Ordering Changes — Omnichannel Capabilities

Omnichannel retail has been gaining traction for years across many product categories. Omnichannel retail refers to a company’s ability to sell its goods in all the sales channels where its customers are likely to shop. Omnichannel retail includes e-commerce through seller marketplaces, online stores, shopping apps, social media, physical retail and in-store pickup options.

The basic principle of omnichannel retail is that by being in every place where their target customers like to shop, they can earn more customers. This principle can also serve the varying needs of individual consumers. For example, sometimes they need something within the next few hours and use an in-store pickup option to ensure they can reserve the item they need and get it quickly. Other times, shoppers want to buy entirely online and avoid driving to the store — they are willing to wait a few days for shipping.

An omnichannel retail strategy also assists shoppers who use more than one channel throughout their journey. For example, 46% of consumers check inventory online before going to a store to complete their purchase. Omnichannel customers — those who use multiple channels during their shopping process — spend an average of 4% more in stores and 10% more online.

Changing customer needs amid the pandemic has only heightened the need for flexible omnichannel solutions. Sellers that had e-commerce capabilities were able to survive the slump in physical retail. And even as shoppers return to brick-and-mortar stores, the ability to sell online remains critical. Now, 60% of retailers and consumer goods companies are planning investments in new facilities that can handle e-commerce fulfillment to bolster their omnichannel capabilities.

customer ordering changes and omnichannel capabilities

Effects of Omnichannel on the Supply Chain

As it continues to rise in prominence, omnichannel retail affects supply chains in many ways. To meet the needs of online shoppers and retail partners, businesses need a flexible warehousing solution with capabilities for e-commerce and bulk order fulfillment. Selling directly to the consumer also opens up the need to accept returns and thus handle reverse logistics and returns processing.

A distribution center that fulfills e-commerce orders needs staff members dedicated to picking and packing individual orders. They must manage incoming orders across many e-commerce sales channels and prioritize everything so that customers get what they’ve ordered in a matter of days. A warehouse or distribution center that supplies goods to retail partners needs additional capabilities — practicing inventory management, coordinating transportation and scheduling various inbound and outbound trucks at their loading docks. Some facilities even handle assembly and packaging.

Because of the added complexity an omnichannel strategy places on the supply chain, it’s often helpful to work with a distribution solutions company, such as Crown LSP Group, that can handle a wide range of value-added warehousing services. Our capabilities include cross-docking, shrink-wrap bundle packing, pick and pack fulfillment, carrier selection and routing, assembly and packaging, inventory management, reverse logistics, direct customer shipping, order processing and more. With our help, your supply chain will handle everything an omnichannel strategy demands.

3. Stocking Issues of Quickly Changing Supply and Demand

Recent times have amplified stocking issues and shown us how quickly supply and demand can shift in the modern retail environment. Before the pandemic, many brands relied on the “just in time” inventory approach, which dictates that you should only acquire inventory as soon as you need it. This method can work great, so long as there’s always a reliable supply.

However, the pandemic sent shockwaves through the retail and consumer product goods supply chains, and we’re still experiencing the fallout. At first, many countries and states placed a hold on “non-essential” manufacturing. At the same time, individual factories got hit with safety constraints such as fewer staff members on-site or even temporary shutdowns due to outbreaks of illnesses among workers.

Thus, suppliers were stretched to their limits and still feel the ramifications today. As the pandemic and other global events progressed, we’ve seen surprise shortages affect consumer goods across various sectors. Some of the widespread product shortages we’ve seen as of May 2021 include:

  • Computer chips, which were in short supply before the pandemic and are now facing additional supply chain challenges.
  • Plastics and palm oil used in many plastic products.
  • Lumber, with exacerbated shortages due to coronavirus-related shutdowns and a housing shortage.
  • Furniture, a product typically manufactured offshore and that now involves months-long delivery estimates.
  • Chicken, bacon and hotdogs, stemming in part from outbreaks at meat-processing facilities.
  • Imported foods such as olive oil, coffee and cheese.
  • Shipping containers, placing additional constraints on practically every supply chain.

Besides restricted supply, another constraint was the sudden boom in demand. Stay-at-home orders revolutionized consumer behavior trends, causing massive waves of pantry-stocking and a sudden increase in sales for products that could entertain people staying at home. Consumer-packaged goods sales jumped 9.4% in 2020, and many surprising product categories enjoyed a sudden spike in consumer demand, such as:

  • Hair dye
  • Webcams and radios
  • Baking yeast
  • Pet food, treats and supplies
  • Sporting goods
  • Musical instruments
  • Gardening equipment
  • Books

Despite the increased unpredictability, retailers are holding higher expectations for consumer goods brands. For example, in 2020, Walmart upped its on-time, in-full (OTIF) demands. Now, its suppliers must achieve a 98% OTIF delivery rate, a steep increase from the prior 70% requirement. CPG supply chains must adapt to catch up.

Solutions for Supply and Demand Challenges

Consumer goods brands now realize that just-in-time logistics introduces too much risk into the supply chain. When a sudden spike in demand or supply shortfall strikes, they must have enough inventory to compensate. It must be somewhere close to their retail partners so they can restock store shelves on a tight deadline and close to their consumers so they can continue selling online. Meanwhile, they must avoid the weeks-long delivery times of reordering overseas. As such, consumer goods companies are increasing their safety stock levels across the board.

Even with adequate safety stock, the current marketplace remains unpredictable, which underscores the usefulness of flexible warehousing space. Just as quickly as demand spikes, a product can fall out of consumer favor. Likewise, demand can rise and decline with the time of year. Thus, many brands need extra warehouse space during high demand and do not need it when consumer interest falls again. If such a company owned its warehouse, it might have extra space that goes to waste when sales are low.

With customized warehousing services from a partner like Crown LSP Group, your business can rent out the space they need for excess safety stock, whether it’s to cover a temporary demand spike or a long-term solution. Renting warehouse space is more cost-effective for most businesses, as they can find the space they need for the amount of time they need. Building a warehouse is an expense that may not see a return on investment for as long as 30 years.

supply chain digital innovations

4. Digital Innovations

The modern supply chain is digital. Newer, more advanced technology can drive supply chain innovation in everything from inventory and warehouse management to supplier networks and speed-to-market.

Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can make predictions and suggest courses of action based on microscopic changes in the market and logistics environment. This technology can predict future inventory needs, times when a supplier is at risk of becoming a liability or times when warehouse and assembly machinery needs servicing. Software-based consumer goods supply chain management can assist in scheduling operations to enable advanced processes such as cross-docking, efficient returns processing and digital inventory management. Transportation management systems can facilitate route and carrier selection to optimize transportation costs and reduce travel times.

Some of the top digital retail supply chain trends driving efficiency and innovation include:

Predictive Planning and Demand Forecasting

One of the most promising new technologies for the supply chain is predictive planning and forecasting tools. An impressive 56% of consumer goods and retail companies are planning investments in this technology. This software uses analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase supply chain visibility, uncover bottlenecks within the supply network and find new channels to address these shortfalls. They can also use data from many sources to predict changes in demand, allowing logistics managers to optimize inventory levels and plan reordering of schedules.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

In manufacturing, warehousing and other aspects of the supply chain, the IoT is a transformative technology. Sensors and IoT devices now let various machinery and equipment integrate and share data. One application of this in retail is that vending machines can have sensors that tell bottling plants about future restocking needs and indicate when it needs maintenance.

3D Printing

3D printing improves the supply chain by allowing companies to produce runs as small as a single product, made-to-order. It enables manufacturing to take place closer to the end customer and gives the customer options for customization. It also lets consumer goods companies produce both prototypes and finished products quickly, shortening the speed-to-market. By producing on-demand, companies can save on warehousing space for custom products and shorten supply chains.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Besides the various product shortages affecting supply chains, the supply chain has also faced a labor shortage since before the pandemic. The manufacturing skills gap will likely leave 2.1 million jobs vacant by 2030. Labor shortages are also affecting warehousing and transportation jobs.

Augmented and virtual reality offer ways to close the gap by facilitating training modules, simulating complex, real-world scenarios in safe, virtual settings to close the skills gap. They can also allow managers, consultants and specialists to virtually visit a plant and offer their insights while working from home. This ability allows the logistics industry to offer an in-demand perk to jobs traditionally requiring a physical presence. Augmented-reality glasses can also let workers see real-time data about the plant and equipment.

Find Success in Your Supply Chain With Crown LSP Group

Keeping up with the latest supply chain trends is easy when you have a logistics partner you can trust. Let Crown LSP Group take on your toughest warehousing and transportation challenges. We’re a third-party logistics provider who can handle your transportation and warehousing needs in North Carolina. We personalize all our solutions to our customers’ unique needs and offer the flexibility, scalability and value-added services you need to stay competitive, no matter what supply chain challenges come your way.

Contact Crown LSP Group to discuss your needs and learn how we’ll build a custom logistics solution for you.

find success in your supply chain with crown lsp group

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