So many things go into successful shipping processes for any business. And we do mean a ton of things. From budgets to supplies and everything in between, there are many little pieces that make up the full puzzle. It is very easy for one of those pieces to change shape and really effect what the puzzle is supposed to look like. It is incredibly important to know and understand every facet of the shipping process in order to effectively evaluate, and trouble shoot, the efficiency of any program.
The shipping and distribution industry is constantly evolving. Understanding your current processes and procedures is imperative, but so is keeping up to date on trends and other variables that could affect your business cycle. For example, one factor that not many distribution centers consider is weather. Not inclement weather in this case, although that can definitely affect things; but in the case I am referring to is the way customers order. The apparel industry sees this the most, and it can really change your forecasting model. What is normally purchased by customers in May could change to February. And your shipping center needs to be prepared for that shift. In fact, according to an article by Paul Myerson on Industry Week, this type of predictive analysis is now being taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology as a way to better predict trends in the market. This information can keep your fulfillment centers out of a bind by being able to prepare for the influx of orders; or conversely the opposite.
So where do you start with so much to evaluate? Well, you go back to basics. Were there times where your center excelled? Were there times when it failed in some way? Compare the two. That is always a great start.
- · Did you have a huge amount of unexpected orders? Or the opposite?
- · Plenty of supplies on hand? Or ran out and operations shut down?
- · Did you get new software/equipment and had to work out the bugs?
- · Did you have enough staff?
- · Were your sales projects on point?
Just asking a few simple questions gives you a starting place and you can go from there. Targeting those little pieces can make your distribution center much more efficient and increase profitability.