Modern business relies on fulfillment activities to deliver goods and services to customers, whether in business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions or as a business-to-business (B2B) organization.
What Is B2B Fulfillment?
B2B fulfillment services concentrate on satisfying orders between one business and another instead of a business to an individual. This process can take many forms and often involves high-volume or bulk orders.
How Does B2B Fulfillment Work?
For example, a B2B-focused organization may deliver large quantities of goods to a wholesale company. In turn, the receiving company stores, sells and ships the products to retailers who make the final sale to consumers. Another common application is a corporate office with many branches that buys necessary operational supplies in bulk to take advantage of quantity discounts. The company can then allocate these resources to their satellite offices from their stockpile as needed.
Consistent delivery of goods and services is frequently essential to a business’s core purpose or operations. B2B fulfillment practices must be reliable, swift and efficient to prevent costly delays and support an effective supply chain.
The Difference Between B2B and B2C Fulfillment
While both B2B shipping and B2C fulfillment focus on order delivery, their characteristics can vary widely.
B2C e-commerce fulfillment generally involves higher numbers of smaller and lighter-weight packages. Parcel delivery services can easily transport and deliver these smaller packages affordably, leading many companies to offer B2C perks like free shipping.
In contrast, B2B orders are less frequent since they’re larger. Because of the volumes involved and the fulfillment speed necessary, shipping costs are generally higher.
B2B order fulfillment can be complex since customer demands may vary. Larger companies may require electronic documentation or value-added services like drayage and barcoding for better inventory management.
Similarly, a recipient may restrict deliveries by specifying certain days or times of the day for receiving. Narrow delivery windows can add to the shipping costs, and delays can result in penalties or denied deliveries.
Conversely, B2C orders generally carry no limitations. Parcel companies can deliver at any time of day or day of the week, usually with no documentation necessary.
When to Choose a B2B Fulfillment Provider
B2B fulfillment services are ideal for companies that have commercial customers or want to attract them. These specialized services can help you ship swiftly, efficiently and cost-effectively to meet your customers’ needs. Plus, effective B2B order fulfillment can create repeat long-term customers, reducing your cost-per-acquisition numbers.
How to Choose the Right B2B Fulfillment Provider
Consider several factors when identifying the best B2B partner for your company.
The B2B fulfillment process may follow similar steps for each company, but you need more than a cookie-cutter approach. A knowledgeable and experienced 3PL fulfillment provider works with you as a consultant to understand your unique business challenges and designs a solution to answer them head-on.
Whether you have hundreds of B2B customers or you’re seeing your first sales, you need an agile partner. Carefully assess the 3PL company to ensure they’ll be able to handle increased order processing demands and support continued growth.
Your 3PL B2B fulfillment provider should offer an extensive range of capabilities for your success.
Consider whether your prospective 3PL partner can handle extras like labeling and barcoding, which may be essential for inventory management. Offering advantages such as goods palletization and robust quality programs can ensure your products’ integrity on arrival. Other value-added services — like order picking and packing, transloading and cross-docking — can also help you take your business to the next level.
Your ideal 3PL fulfillment partner should demonstrate a shared focus on your success through exceptional customer service. You should see your B2B fulfillment provider responding to issues and rapidly engaging to resolve them.
Plus, an experienced B2B fulfillment services company can help you proactively identify opportunities. As a result, your business gains additional efficiencies and cost savings while improving customer satisfaction.
Choose Crown LSP Group for Your B2B Fulfillment Needs
Crown LSP Group is a full-service distribution solutions provider in eastern North Carolina with extensive B2B fulfillment experience. Our team believes your organization has unique needs and deserves a one-of-a-kind fulfillment answer. That’s why we create custom strategies for our customers. When you work with us, you also benefit from scalability, flexibility and a commitment to partnership. Find out how we can help with a tailored solution for all your fulfillment needs, from warehousing to transportation.
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping allows you to combine smaller shipments with other businesses sending goods to the same area. By filling a truck together, companies pay only for the space they need.
Many businesses — especially small ones — need transportation for goods that don’t occupy an entire truckload. Ensuring on-time delivery often means paying for full loads while shipping products that only take up part of the truck’s available space. LTL shipping changes that by consolidating cargo from different companies for a full-capacity truck.
The concept is similar to a group discount, where you team up with other businesses sending goods to a common destination. You each pay for the portion of the truck you use while getting your product where it needs to go.
When you choose LTL cargo, the carrier must work to find compatible partners to share the load. This additional step reflects in their charges. That means you’ll generally pay a higher rate by volume for LTL shipping than if you were filling the entire truck. In other words, if each pallet costs a certain amount to ship in a full load, you’ll pay more per pallet to transport with LTL freight.
Benefits of LTL Shipping
LTL shipments offer numerous benefits for those transporting smaller loads.
LTL shipping allows you to transport goods more affordably when you need only partial trailer capacity. Since you pay only for the space you use, you avoid excess costs associated with unused space. The result is shipping that costs a fraction of standard, full-load costs.
Most LTL cargo is securely palletized before loading. That process offers your products extra protection against potential damage, especially when compared to individual handling units.
LTL shipping offers increased visibility into your shipments. You can track them in multiple ways, including:
By the purchase order number.
Through the bill of lading identification.
With the progressive (PRO) number.
By the pickup date.
This enhanced transparency allows for easy documentation of the chain of custody, so your audit trails maintain accuracy.
LTL freight is ideal for maximizing efficiency. You can transport goods to customers as soon as possible rather than waiting for area demand to increase to total truckload capacity. Plus, you access regional and national carrier systems. As a result, you make the most of your company’s time and resources.
LTL shipping is the ideal solution for today’s emphasis on sustainability and greener business practices. Sending fewer trucks with complete loads translates to fewer separate shipments, lower emissions, and reduced carbon impact for your company.
LTL shipments arose in response to the need for more flexible shipping options and helped support a shift to “just-in-time” inventory management for many companies. This transportation agility proves critical when supply chain challenges arise and consumer buying patterns change.
Plus, you can access other special handling options to meet your business’s needs when you ship LTL. Today’s choices include conveniences like:
Inside deliveries and pickups.
What Determines LTL Shipping Rates?
Many considerations affect the ultimate total of LTL freight.
National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)
The NMFC is the industry’s framework for determining a product’s transportability. Under this system, your cargo receives a grade from 18 separate classes, from low-end class 50 to high-end class 500. The standards include categorization of properties like:
Dimensions — often referred to as cargo stowability
Generally, higher class numbers carry higher freight charges.
Origin and Destination Locations
Two primary factors influencing shipment costs are where your cargo comes from and where it’s going. The further your shipment must travel, the higher the price you’ll pay because the transport costs the carrier more in equipment use and driver labor.
Shipping lanes also impact the total fees. Typically, busy routes are more affordable than less-used ones. As a result, it’s often more cost-effective to transport goods to an active, urban area than to a remote, rural one.
Cargo that requires special handling is generally more costly to ship. Options that can contribute to your LTL freight costs include:
Expedited shipping or guaranteed delivery dates.
Fragile products requiring extra protection.
LTL shipments often tip the scales between 150 pounds and 10,000 pounds, though some carriers accommodate greater weights. Heavier shipments can produce higher costs, but carriers commonly use a hundredweight or centum weight (CWT) pricing approach. This model means that the heavier your shipment is, the lower your rate per 100 pounds of freight.
LTL experts like Crown LSP Group offer freight brokerage services based on negotiated rates with a network of LTL carriers. This approach ensures you get the best possible LTL rates with the carrier most able to meet your unique business demands.
With a dynamic pricing market, many carriers pass on a fuel surcharge to their customers. Often, these fees appear as a percentage added to the negotiated or base rate. These charges change based on the travel distance and help offset fluctuating and variable fuel costs.
When to Opt for LTL Shipping
LTL shipping is ideal for many types of businesses, industries, and applications. These include:
Shipment weights under 10,000 pounds: When you exceed the size and weight limits for parcel carriers but tip the scales at 10,000 pounds or less, LTL shipping can provide an effective solution.
Budget-conscious transportation: Small businesses must maximize their resources to keep profitability levels high, and LTL freight helps you make the most of shipping spending.
Shipments concentrated in certain areas: If you commonly ship goods to one area of the country or along well-traveled shipping lanes, LTL is efficient and affordable.
Less than 10 to 12 pallets of goods: LTL is a perfect choice for smaller businesses shipping up to 12 pallets of goods.
Non-time-sensitive deliveries: While expedited or guaranteed deliveries are possible, LTL cargo often makes more dock stops along the way and is best for flexible delivery windows.
Contact Crown LSP Group for LTL Shipping
Crown LSP Group is a complete distribution solutions company based in eastern North Carolina. Since 1987, we’ve been a trusted logistics and transportation excellence source. Our team will help you secure the best LTL rates and classify your products according to NMFC guidelines.
Warehouse operations and transportation take effort to manage. Different procedures and strategies can potentially influence production, costs, efficiency, compliance, accuracy and data collection. To stay ahead of these concerns and enhance the functionality of your warehouse distribution, it’s important to learn about the various elements you can practice to strengthen sustainability and capacity.
Warehouse and distribution center best practices provide a structure that can lead to success. Implementing these practices in your system can help you reach your goals, whether you’re aiming for reduced costs or labor, increased productivity and efficiency, organization, data and information accuracy, or regulated transportation.
Warehouse and Distribution Center Management Best Practices
Efficient warehouse operations are crucial for optimizing distribution strategy and organization. With improved efficiency, you may see an increase in productivity and a reduction in costs. Here are some of the most efficient warehouse best practices you can implement in your management.
1. Regulate Vendor Compliance
Vendor compliance programs may be crucial for collaborating and communicating about products and requirements. Warehouse distribution centers can enable a working relationship between suppliers and vendors to enhance efficiency and improve internal facility operations. Vendor compliance programs may help the supply chain process by:
Leading the way to increased customer satisfaction
A vendor compliance manager can handle and oversee these processes. Compliance managers are also responsible for monitoring all requirements and performance. With a manager in place, any concerns, issues or feedback with products or merchandise can be properly communicated to the vendor to reach a solution. Vendor compliance programs may also ensure suppliers provide sufficient information regarding standard case quantities, accurate bar code labels and advanced shipping notifications.
Observing the process of labels helps organize and optimize the warehouse distribution process. These processes may help identify any issues with non-compliance, which can produce ways of fixing the supply chain to enhance strategic relationships. Non-compliant shipments from a warehouse may cause a retailer to issue deductions or fees from a vendor.
Making specific changes without authorization can incur additional expenses that cause issues for your company. Minor improvements over a period of time that satisfy business rules and requirements can lead to overall efficient and productive operations that make a difference. Using your business guidelines, history, goals and customer service standards may help internal and external cost reductions as they comply with terms and conditions.
2. Employ Advanced Shipment Notifications
Advanced shipping notifications (ASN) can go hand in hand with vendor compliance. These notifications allow suppliers to see consistent status updates about when their product has been shipped from the warehouse and when it’s expected to arrive.
This information exchange is typically done with electronic data, which is part of an overall warehouse management system. With these notifications, you can improve efficiency by reducing delays or disruptions in the supply chain process.
When receivers are notified of when to expect an incoming shipment, they will be better equipped to direct that product to the proper place. ASN also helps with management functions such as adequate staffing and receiving information about when shipment orders or inventory requirements are fulfilled. When transportation and labor are appropriately distributed and optimized, you can then begin to reduce the overall cost of operations.
Some issues and questions that ASN can help resolve among vendors, retailers, businesses, suppliers and receivers include:
Notifying what orders have been shipped
Describing the items that are being shipped and their quantities
Notifying when the order is expected to arrive
Detailing if the shipment contains the complete order
Notifying if the load is packaged with bar codes
Listing the shipment or package tracking numbers
Many modern sellers may not even accept certain packages or shipments without an ASN, so you should implement this practice to help maintain accuracy and consistency. If someone identifies any error after a shipment label is scanned, you can immediately notify the supplier and quickly resolve the issue.
ASN can also provide efficiency with outbound transportation once the warehouse team is notified of incoming shipments. This procedure can help save time and reduce the likelihood of human error causing issues with sorting, unexpected delays and missing inventory.
3. Implement Automatic Data Collection
Automatic data collection, such as using bar codes, is more efficient than using manual processing. This implementation helps lower labor costs because most of the work can be done with technology.
You can also use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to help with this process, as they help prevent human errors in counting or data information. In this instance, utilizing a company like Crown LSP Group lets you focus on what you do best with the help of flexible and scalable automated solutions.
Removing the need to handwrite long tracking or shipment numbers significantly advances your tracking process, increasing order visibility. In warehouse distribution, tasks or steps you can replace with technology make it easier for management because they will have fewer trivial things to focus on. Utilizing automated data collection technology gives you more time to focus on making decisions and streamlining your turnaround process.
Additional examples of ways that automatic data collection can help improve productivity in your warehouse can include:
Providing shipping and label bar codes
Boosting efficiency with handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets
Giving you control over inventory loss
Enhancing management and count of inventory
Improving data accuracy and analysis
Providing access to lot tracking and expiration dates
Establishing software to help with order management and production consumption
Implementing automatic data collection can help your warehouse benefit from these services, letting you meet business goals and customer demands. It may be helpful to evaluate your warehouse to identify areas that automation technology can improve. When establishing automation processes, check your existing records to ensure information accuracy, which helps you anticipate challenges or difficulties if you are new to the process.
Once you can verify that there are no outstanding maintenance issues, you can expect increased productivity and, therefore, increased sales.
4. Minimize Touches
By utilizing automation technology, you can also reduce touchpoints in your distribution strategy. Minimizing manual touches in your warehouse can affect almost all elements of distribution processes. This can include eliminating packing stations and replacing them with automated ones or implementing print-and-apply technology for labeling processes. An order fulfillment company like Crown LSP Group can help minimize employee touches and improve pick-and-pack operations by reducing unnecessary steps for orders to go through.
For example, picking to a shipping carton rather than a bin or tote would be much faster and may lead to improvement in overall systems and cost reduction. Essentially, every time a product or shipment is touched, it creates room for more expenses, errors and time delays. When innovation is disrupted, it can lead to obstacles that hinder acceleration.
Some other ways that minimizing these physical touch aspects can improve your warehouse operations include:
Minimizing operational costs
Reducing the likelihood of errors and time delays
Improving storage capacity
Streamlining process handling and internal procedures
Meeting higher demand
Processing faster deliveries
Maximizing profit margins
Gaining a competitive advantage
Regulation requirements for many industries are rapidly growing and changing, so you can further benefit from these advantages by staying ahead of the game. While changing your traditional distribution model or system may seem challenging, staying up to date to deliver a reliable flow is important for your business’s efficiency and success.
Being proactive is an essential strategy in any business or industry, so it’s worth taking the time to locate where you can reduce costs and generate improvements. Minimizing product touches can also allow you to minimize waste and allocate the extra time, energy and labor to more important processes that cannot be automated. This may be very helpful for the efficiency of your warehouse operations.
5. Engage in Cross-Docking
Cross-docking is a method that can help improve order fulfillment and enhance competitive advantages in many ways. Cross-docking involves taking incoming delivery shipments or products directly to outbound transportation vehicles.
This practice helps with overall quicker processing for high-volume shipments by speeding up the flow of goods between distribution centers and consumers or store locations. There are several kinds of cross-docking, including manufacturing distribution, transportation, retail and other types that can satisfy vendor and customer needs.
This procedure has many benefits that help your warehouse operations run smoothly, such as reducing:
Production to consumer turnaround time
Shipment delays and costs
Inventory management risks
Packaging and labor costs
Holding and storage costs
All of these advantages benefit your warehouse and optimize your supply chain by increasing customer satisfaction and lowering overall costs. Cross-docking terminals let your business consolidate packages and deliver them to one destination without additional hassle and excessive transfers or storage. Moving goods from one delivery truck to another can help maximize productivity and ensure your time and money are being used wisely.
When administering the practice of cross-docking, it’s essential to maintain inventory control processes to stay on top of accountability and invoices.
6. Record Movement as a Transaction
All steps and movements within the warehouse process should be recorded as transactions to help determine which procedures are necessary and which are not. This action commonly relates to inventory transfers — when stock or shipments are moved between warehouses — but it can also refer to good issues and receipts. This method may help eliminate certain steps that take up time or money that can be improved or altered to contribute to efficiency.
In warehouse distribution, these steps or movements that should not be part of the operation are known as turnbacks, which typically need to be reported to help enhance optimization.
Removing certain components such as damaged goods and issuing returns and transfers must be recorded in a stock account to help maintain count and transaction information. Continuously recording these movements as a transaction can help improve operations when products and assets are continually scanned to maintain the integrity of your inventory data.
This process may also help prevent any disruptions or deviations in the management system and identify solutions. Inventory transfer documents and movement transactions should also contain information on:
Inventory postings and offsets
Pricing and purchasing analysis reports
Materials that are moved from one storage type to another
Invoices for needed items and quantities
Transfer request status updates
Recording all steps in the distribution process can help in many additional ways, such as making it easier for you to determine when to reorder as well as improving accountability. Having all information documented improves the inventory process and reduces human error during the movement of materials. The retrieving process is also streamlined because, with fewer inconsistencies, there will be more time to properly control and track essential warehouse procedures.
7. Utilize a Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) provides a framework for keeping all functions and operations organized and in line with compliance regulations. Your WMS can be tailored to fit your business’s specific needs and requirements, especially with logistics services like Crown LSP Group, making it easier for you to customize solutions to your specifications along with any updated changes or regulations.
This flexibility positively impacts warehouse procedures that need to be simplified while showing what processes can benefit from automation. A WMS can help you increase visibility and monitor aspects that may lead to inefficiencies, such as:
Defective or damaged goods
When these issues, along with many others, are more closely monitored and observed, it may create more room for components that actually add value to the supply chain. Using a WMS, you can more easily eliminate challenges that interrupt your order processing time by reducing any unnecessary transportation or movement that doesn’t contribute to productivity.
Having this system in place can optimize overall warehouse performance by:
Increasing distribution center efficiency
Identifying and reducing risks
Organizing execution processes and systems
Integrating workflows that meet demands
For manufacturers looking to use 3PL distribution centers, companies like Crown LSP Group help you structure these practices into your warehouse. Using an experienced company to generate your WMS helps your business set new standards and reduce diversions in your packing or transportation process. A WMS will help ensure you consider all critical success factors and that key elements are configured to fit your existing approach.
Before implementing a WMS, it’s important to address any possible concerns or challenges with your vendors and associates so you’re better prepared to adjust to the new change.
8. Evaluate Requirements
Regularly evaluating certain practices in your warehouse or distribution center is essential for effective adaptation. Being aware of requirements for your customers and operations provides an excellent opportunity for growth once you recognize the areas that need improvement. After planning, designing and employing effective operations, regularly check in on them to see how needs and demands have changed. Customer requirements tend to change frequently, so evaluating them often can help you stay on the path to achieving the results you wish to see.
Some additional ways that can help you evaluate customer and industry requirements are:
Verify quality and validation criteria
Consider significant supporting processes
Keep up with market conditions
Understand your accessibility, space and workflow
Monitor regularly to make corrections
Estimate consequences with change effect analysis
Warehouse and distribution centers may need to consistently adapt to environmental or internal changes, which can relate to the goods themselves or the inventory layouts. In any business, it’s always a good idea to review system processes and performance to see how they measure up to expectations and if you can alter them for efficiency. Practice this method by generating a consistent evaluation schedule that will allow you to get a better look at what strategies are working best.
Contact Crown LSP Group for Warehousing Services and Transportation Requests
Crown LSP Group is a distribution and third-party logistics company that offers flexible and scalable services for your warehousing and transportation needs. We strive to provide you and your business with operational efficiency, cost-savings and value-added services to address your concerns and improve productivity. Our experience will give you the quality you deserve and allow you more time to focus on manufacturing and selling products.
Our services act as an extension of your business so you can move materials or products at a lower cost and increase your profitability. At Crown LSP Group, we understand that your needs are unique, so we are proud to adjust our capabilities to find new, customizable ways that benefit you.
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.
What is a Value-Added Service (VAS)?
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.
Enhance Your Supply Chain with Value-Added Services
Elevate your supply chain performance by leveraging value-added services that deliver exceptional value to your customers.
How Do Value-Added Services Help Improve the Supply Chain?
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.
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.
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:
Cost and quality of global manufacturing and distribution
Information mediums and systems
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top 4 Retail and CPG Supply Chain Trends
Let’s talk about some of the retail and consumer goods supply chain factors that are seeing huge success and changing the industry for the better.
1. 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.
Revolutionize Your Retail Supply Chain with Consumer Goods Expertise
Propel your retail business to new heights by leveraging consumer goods expertise in your supply chain.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Webcams and radios
Pet food, treats and supplies
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.
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 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.
While solar panels can take a beating from direct sunlight for more than 12 hours a day, they aren’t immune to cracks, micro-cracks and other forms of damage during transportation and warehousing. In times when you need to store your solar panels in a safe and secure location with a third-party logistic (3PL) team, you can rely on Crown LSP Group.
How Does Solar Panel Transportation Work?
Although there is no universal standard regarding the loading, transporting, unloading and storing of solar panels, we know what it takes to get the job done in a way that replicates an extension of your current business tactics. Crown LSP Group works with you to understand your precise requirements to create a customized solution for warehousing solar panels.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are devices that convert energy from the sun into electricity — often for residential and commercial zones. However, solar panels can also provide energy for individual homes in remote areas or even satellites.
Each solar panel is made of solar cells. Elements like phosphorus, silicon and boron make up each cell and work together to form energy via the photovoltaic process. When boron forms a positive charge and phosphorus forms a negative one, the cells absorb the sun’s photons. From there, these three chemicals pull the electrons into a current, releasing energy for electricity.
Solar panels are a sustainable and renewable alternative to coal and natural gas. Their environmental benefits and their ability to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels are major reasons for their growing popularity.
How to Properly Ship, Handle and Store Solar Panels
Shipping solar panels and storing them safely is a process that unfortunately doesn’t have industry standards across the globe. But here at Crown LSP Group, we have designed a detailed and stringent process to ensure your solar panels are securely handled.
Challenges in Transporting Solar Panels
In general, transporting solar panels is challenging because they are fragile and heavy. The key for storing solar panels is to protect them from the weight of each other and external transportation damage.
We uphold unique solar panel loading, transporting and unloading stipulations at Crown LSP Group. We understand that solar panels are sensitive components that, when under even slight pressure, can experience micro-cracks. As a result, these minute damages can affect how the entire system operates. Several negative effects of micro-cracks include:
Inactive cells (power loss)
Solar panel performance
How to Ship Solar Panels Safely
Stacking solar panels horizontally can cause damage to each panel that you can’t always see. If possible, you may be able to spot micro-cracks in a panel from a change in color, making it darker than the rest of the unit — but this is only out of luck. More often than not, micro-cracks go unnoticed and grow over time, and they eventually become even more detrimental defects.
Vertical stacking is a method that can form minimal pressure on the modules when stacked on a pallet. This strategy reduces top-to-bottom pressure and the stress of large amounts of weight.
Other components that can help protect solar panels in storage include:
Protective outer layer
Separators between each panel
Straps on corners
Crown LSP Group has high standards in place to prevent even the tiniest of scratches. We ensure each panel is secure so that there is no room for movement, keeping individual units protected during transportation.
Knowing how to store solar panels in a warehouse is a technique that ensures each panel is free from cracks and other damages.
Partnering With the Right 3PL
Partnering with the right 3LP for your solar panel transport and warehousing needs is critical to keeping each unit secure and ready for consumers. The right partner will understand that solar panels are high-value items that are delicate and require careful storage.
They should also cater to your unique solar panel needs and understand the care that’s necessary to prevent any damage. Your panels should arrive safely at the warehouse and be stored properly until you need them.
Whether you’re transporting and storing an entire truckload of solar panels or several at a time, proper processes are essential for delivering your products on time to consumers.
How Crown LSP Group Can Provide Third-Party Logistics Solar Panel Solutions
Crown LSP Group protects your solar panels every step of the way.
We implement storage techniques that can withstand mechanical stress and heavier loads than normal to safeguard each panel from damage, dents, cracks and micro-cracks. Our experts are here to manage your inventory and prepare outgoing products for you or your consumers when needed while also offering climate-controlled storage solutions if necessary. We help transport panels to and from the warehouse while delivering additional benefits, such as:
Ability to handle MBLs
Exceptional understanding of load configurations
Mobile scanning equipment
Reports necessary for you and your customers
Special equipment to accommodate oversized pallets of solar panels
Specialized forklifts and equipment (damage-free handling)
Our transportation department also supports the moving of pallets to your job site and bringing in containers from the port. To date, Crown LSP Group has supported about 40,000 pallets of solar panels with previous customers.
Contact Crown LSP Group for Warehousing and Transportation Requests
When you rely on timely deliveries to clients and need extra space for storing your solar panels, Crown LSP Group has you covered. As a family-owned business, we know what it means to take care of our clients and their products. Our goal is to create an extension of your business unit when transporting and warehousing shipments of solar panels. Whether you need to store panels for future use or need to transport materials, Crown LSP Group is here to work with you one-on-one.
Winter weather can be hard on the supply chain, from blizzards to freezing rain to brittle cold snaps. Cold weather can affect supply chains in many ways, including disruption in transportation routes, damaged cargo, and sudden power outages. Businesses can prevent costly delays and fulfill orders efficiently by planning ahead for the impact of winter weather on supply chains.
This guide to preparing supply chains for winter discusses the importance of planning ahead for winter and some of the top ways cold weather affects the supply chain. We’ll also provide tips on preparing your supply chain for winter weather and the benefits of partnering with a trusted third-party logistics provider for all your winter transportation and logistics needs.
Importance of Preparing Your Supply Chain for Winter
When entering the winter season, it’s important for businesses to prepare for the changes that come with cold weather and changes in consumer behavior. Preparing your supply chain for winter challenges ensures your business remains successful and can weather any storm ahead.
Here are some of the top reasons why it’s important to prepare your supply chain for winter:
Prevent increased overhead costs: As the season changes and temperatures drop, the ability to keep a steady supply chain is disrupted. These disruptions lead to companies needing to make additional expenditures to support their supply chain efforts, including additional labor. To minimize unexpected increases in overhead costs, companies must prepare for potential winter disruptions.
Keep goods secure: Preparing your supply chain for winter is critical to ensure you have enough warehousing space to store goods as needed. Disruptions in the supply chain can cause goods to become backed up at certain distribution points. Securing enough warehouse space can help protect your goods and keep them safe while transportation routes clear up.
Meet customer demands: Failing to prepare for winter supply chain challenges can lead to disruptions in customer service and maintaining customer relationships. To meet customer demands and expectations, prepare ahead of time for some of the potential challenges during the winter season.
Planning for winter supply chain challenges will reduce impacts on your bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.
Supply Chain Challenges During Winter
To prepare for supply chain challenges during the winter season, it’s critical to be aware of the most common issues impacting businesses this time of year. The major difference between the winter supply chain and supply chain practices the rest of the year is the cold weather that causes freight transportation and delivery delays.
In addition to weather, businesses face other unique challenges during the winter that can affect supply chain management. Knowing what to expect can help your business acquire the necessary resources and assistance for a successful winter supply chain.
Below are the top supply challenges during the winter.
The biggest threat to the supply chain during the winter is the risk of extreme weather. Though some regions face more extreme winter weather than others, cold temperatures, and snowy conditions affect businesses across the country when the supply chain is nationwide.
Some of the major impacts of winter weather on supply chains include:
Road closures due to snow and ice delay freight trucks
Extreme weather that grounds cargo planes
International delays in cargo flights, ground transport, or sea freight due to weather in other countries
Power outages that affect distribution centers and warehouses
All of the above winter weather hazards can result in delays, accidents, and safety risks that impact the supply chain.
Increased Holiday Demand
Another one of the challenges of the supply chain during the winter is the increased consumer demand that occurs ahead of the holidays and in the months afterward. There is a general nationwide increase in demand during the holidays and an increase in demand for certain types of products that require unique warehousing and transportation needs.
It’s crucial to know the type of demand your business can expect during the holiday season to plan for your increased supply chain needs. Using forecasting tools can help you predict holiday demand based on the records from previous years.
Longer Lead Times
The combination of severe winter weather and increased seasonal demand creates a ripple effect that impacts the rest of the supply chain. As a result, it’s important to anticipate winter’s impact on the supply chain timeline. Many businesses experience longer lead times during the winter, as it can take longer for trucks to turn over products to and from the warehouse and delivery points.
While it’s difficult to predict from year to year just how much winter weather and demand will impact the supply chain, you can mitigate the risk of these delays by setting the expectation of longer lead times.
When consumer demand increases in the lead-up to the holidays, it can create a shortage in warehouse space across the country. When companies fail to plan ahead for an increase in consumer demand, they often are left scrambling to find ways to warehouse goods strategically in anticipation of increased customer orders.
Additionally, when winter weather impacts major transport routes, warehouse turnover rates slow down, leading to a backlog of goods that would otherwise already be out for delivery. This creates a bottleneck in the supply chain that further impacts lead times and drives up supply chain costs.
Increased Transportation Costs
When winter weather impacts the supply chain, the net result is an increase in operational costs, particularly in the cost of trucking or transportation. When demand starts to exceed supply, this naturally results in an increase in the cost of all goods related to the supply chain. From fuel to labor to shipping containers, supply chain cost increases affect all areas of logistics.
Because the increased costs associated with a lagging supply chain get passed on to the customer, it’s important to prepare financially for the effects of the winter supply chain.
Tips for Preparing Your Supply Chain for Winter
Despite the challenges that winter weather and holiday demand cause for businesses and their supply chains, there are concrete steps you can take to mitigate these issues. Preventing winter weather from impacting your supply chain starts with preparation. Knowing which issues arise during the winter ahead and how to plan for them can determine business success.
Here are some of the top tips for preparing your supply chain for winter.
1. Monitor Weather Reports
Keeping your pulse on regional weather reports is one of the smartest ways to prepare supply chains in winter weather. By monitoring weather reports, you can be alerted to some of the weather patterns impacting key areas of your supply chain. You’ll become aware of weather issues such as extreme cold and ice that can delay truck traffic and cause collisions. You’ll also be able to anticipate any forthcoming blizzards that might interrupt the power grid.
If you rely on air cargo as part of your supply chain, following commercial and cargo airline delays can also help you predict and react to disruptions. As you continue monitoring the weather, adjust operations as necessary to accommodate interruptions. This can include rescheduling workers or updating shipment tracking information.
2. Implement Time Management Practices
While you can’t do anything to change the weather or consumer demand, you can implement strategic time management practices that will help alleviate pressure from the supply chain. When shipping to regions with known inclement weather patterns, set longer lead time expectations with customers. This allows you to buy time to explore other routes or logistics options without affecting the customer.
Because severe weather can cause closures at ports, runways, and highways, it’s critical to have a flexible schedule that can incorporate other solutions that still meet customer demands. Setting realistic timelines can reduce the impact of delays and decrease the number of shipping errors.
3. Consider Freight Protection
How does cold weather affect the supply chain? Unpredictable winter weather does more than impact the ability to transport cargo. It can also impact the goods themselves. Certain types of goods may be more susceptible to damage with sudden temperature drops. Cold and freezing weather can damage goods like precision instruments and appliances, perishable foods, chemicals, and paints.
When preparing supply chains for winter, be sure to consider whether your goods are temperature-sensitive and what additional protection they may need to arrive safely. Most trailers aren’t temperature-controlled and cannot protect goods from freezing weather. Arrange to have sensitive products shipped in climate-controlled trailers for guaranteed freight protection.
4. Improve Communication
To ensure your supply chain functions properly in cold weather, businesses need to have excellent communication among their own staff and outside warehousing and logistics partners. It’s also important to maintain communication with the customer.
If extreme winter weather is anticipated, ensure each point along the supply chain is up to date with new procedures and contingency plans. Having transparent communication with your logistics partners provides you with peace of mind and more control over your operations. This allows you to update your customers in time should any shipping delays occur.
5. Create a Backup Plan
Though it’s hard to predict the impact of winter weather on supply chains, it’s still possible to prepare for potential delays by creating a contingency plan. When creating a winter weather supply chain backup plan, it’s important to know whether you will adopt alternate modes of transportation and logistics. Alternatively, you may be able to split your loads across multiple different modes of freight to minimize disruptions.
As part of your contingency plan, it’s important to budget for the possibility that you will need to switch to an alternate mode of transportation that costs more. By planning ahead, you can have the financial and logistics strategy to accommodate weather delays.
Benefits of a 3PL for Your Winter Supply Chain
For businesses to thrive, they need reliable systems and processes for streamlined order fulfillment. Efficient order fulfillment ensures businesses can meet their customers’ needs and continue to grow their sales. However, fulfilling orders can become increasingly more difficult to do in-house, especially during challenging winter weather when the supply chain is impacted.
Turning to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Crown LSP Group for help with order fulfillment can help businesses overcome winter weather supply chain issues. 3PLs provide an array of logistics and supply chain management services that support businesses in managing and moving goods to their final destination efficiently and securely.
Here are some of the ways 3PL services from Crown LSP Group can become an integral part of your winter supply chain.
When you partner with a 3PL provider like Crown LSP Group, your business can rest assured that your goods will be properly managed and tracked at all times. When winter weather delays the supply chain, businesses need real-time information about the status of their goods to ensure open communication with the client.
3PL providers are able to transport your goods in safe and secure truckloads and track them at every stage using GPS technology. This ensures that businesses are always informed about the flow of goods and when shipments are delayed or on the way.
More Transportation Options
Part of winter supply chain planning is knowing what additional or alternative modes of transportation you may need to rely on when bad weather impacts logistics. 3PL partners can take on this responsibility, freeing up businesses from finding alternative transportation and logistics solutions on their own.
3PLs are experts in supply chain transportation solutions and can offer creative solutions in the event of inclement winter weather. 3PL providers at Crown LSP Group can offer less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment solutions, which allow businesses to save money and maintain productive lead times.
If increased winter demand causes constraints on your in-house warehousing solutions, a 3PL can provide additional overflow warehousing that accommodates fluctuations in supply. Relying on a trusted 3PL for warehousing services helps businesses save time and resources, particularly with labor and management costs.
Additionally, 3PL warehouses are strategically located, ensuring your goods can be housed and shipped from a location that mitigates delays, including weather-related disruptions.
Improved Safety and Security
One of the supply chain issues that businesses face during the winter is the impact of freezing temperatures and hazardous conditions on the safety of goods. To ensure your goods are transported, stored, and managed safely and securely, rely on a trusted 3PL.
Professional 3PL services from Crown LSP Group offer integrated technology and systems to keep track of your goods and ensure their safe transportation and arrival. With warehousing services, 3PLs can provide the safety and security your goods need, including temperature-controlled storage.
Contact Crown LSP Group for Help Preparing Your Supply Chain for Winter
Preparing supply chains for winter requires advanced planning and effective logistics strategies and solutions. Knowing the common issues that impact supply chains in the winter can help you prevent logistics disruptions and delays. To keep your supply chain running smoothly in the winter, getting the help, you need from a trusted 3PL partner is important.
Crown LSP Group is your third-party logistics solution for better winter supply chain management. We offer various transportation and logistics services to fit your supply chain needs. We have the flexibility and scalability you need to accommodate winter supply challenges. Contact us today for more information on our personalized 3PL solutions or request a quote.
After years of development, CSX’s newest intermodal terminal — the Carolina Connector — is moving toward completion and streamlining distribution in North Carolina. It’s an innovation that will allow users throughout North Carolina to efficiently transport goods across the state and into other regions.
What Is the CSX Carolina Connector?
The eastern United States railroad company CSX has moved forward with construction on an intermodal terminal in eastern North Carolina, ideally positioned halfway between Boston and Miami. Located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the Carolina Connector — or CCX — will be the first CSX terminal of its kind in the state. This significant asset for the logistics industry will enable efficient, convenient access to customers for all companies in the region.
While it has encountered many obstacles along the way, from the initial deal falling through to the COVID-19 pandemic slowing progress, the plan is to complete the project in early 2021. With various offerings for businesses throughout the area, this new development will be a significant milestone for many industries. It will make transportation more cost-effective, sustainable and reliable, letting companies move goods from one place to another more efficiently than ever before.
Advanced technologies and optimized terminal designs will make the Carolina Connector more usable and sustainable for years to come. Features such as machine vision technology, zero-emission electric cranes, X-Gate and self-service kiosks also offer various benefits for companies looking to take advantage of CSX transportation.
Advantages of Using NC Warehousing for Intermodal Freight
When you’re moving products over significant distances, using warehousing near CSX can be highly effective and efficient. CSX transportation can help you easily access North Carolina warehousing and more efficiently reach your customers throughout the region.
If you’re looking to integrate CSX transportation into your operations, finding a warehousing third-party logistics (3PL) option in the region can help you handle numerous processes more efficiently. Store goods and get them from the warehouse to customers quickly and effectively. With the services of 3PL providers such as Crown LSP Group, you can get support for warehousing and other crucial operations in the Carolina Connector region.
How Crown LSP Group Stands Out
At Crown LSP Group, we’re here to go beyond maintaining transactional relationships — we want to be your trusted business partner. Our convenient locations in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, allow you to maintain highly efficient, cost-effective operations directly beside the CSX intermodal terminals.
As a distribution solutions provider with extensive experience in the industry, we understand that every business is different. We’re committed to delivering solutions that fit your unique needs, prioritizing personalization over a one-size-fits-all approach. Whether that means we adjust our shipping hours to match your requirements or provide storage space near your location, we’re here to create a scalable strategy for your business.
Find Trusted Warehousing Near CSX With Crown LSP Group
The CSX intermodal terminal offers an exciting opportunity for North Carolina businesses. Take advantage of the benefits the Carolina Connector can offer and partner with Crown LSP Group to make it happen. To learn more about the benefits of working with a 3PL when you contact us today!