Tag Archive: warehousing

Warehousing Strategies for Success

July 12th, 2018

The Amazon Effect is creating elevated levels of stress in the warehousing and distribution world. The key question is how to provide immediate deliveries, customized service, easy returns, and more for a reduced cost – a very good question indeed!

A few considerations to ponder:

  •  Storage capacity -What is your storage capacity?  How does that compare with your requirements?  And how can you maximize what you can store in your warehouse?
  • Flow – Are you running in circles around your warehouse to support your customers?  Similar to a manufacturing environment, flow can be an essential ingredient to warehousing success – or not.
  • Productivity – Have you automated what makes sense and will increase your speed/ throughput? If it doesn’t improve speed (and accuracy) to your customers, is it really more productive?  Similarly, is outsourcing truly more productive?
  • Equipment – What equipment is built into your warehousing strategy?  Would an upgrade provide a return on investment?
  • Data – Are you using predictive analytics and data analysis to make informed decisions to stay ahead of your competition?
  • WMS tools – Whether “poor man’s” or sophisticated, do you have a way to pick, put away and sort efficiently?
  • Inventory – Don’t ever forget inventory.  Without having the right product in the right place at the right time at the lowest system-wide inventory (and potentially end-to-end supply chain network inventory), what else will matter?

We have yet to come across a warehousing or distribution client that didn’t have at least a 20% improvement opportunity.  Have you looked into your opportunities lately?  Most likely your competition is!

If you need help thinking through your warehousing and distribution strategy, contact us.

 



Top Importers & Exporters… E-Commerce Impacts

June 2nd, 2017

According to the Journal of Commerce, the top importers were impacted by e-commerce and that trend is expected to continue. Imports grew by 8% last year (2.2 million TEU) whereas exports grew by 3% (just under a million TEU). The rankings are showing signs of a shakeup with the surge in e-commerce and Amazon. In 2016, Walmart rated #1, Target #2 and then Home Depot and Lowe’s as #3 and 4.

e-commerce

For example, the retail industry woes are highlighted by Sears and Walmart. Sears sales slid by almost 10% whereas Macy’s slid almost 4% and Payless filed for Chapter 11 protection (all top 100 importers) while Amazon increased 27%. Last year, e-commerce accounted for 8.1% of retail sales and it’s expected to increase by 10% by 2022. Walmart fared a bit better but spent several billions to purchase JET.com. And, Target is also testing next day deliveries. Small orders delivered rapidly is the future!

Not to leave exporters out of the mix, as a matter of interest, the top exported product is wastepaper with beef products also high on the list. 5 of the top 6 relate to paper and packaging such as Koch Industries with the holdout being an animal feed/grain exporter.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Clearly, we must pay attention to what our customers are communicating — they want small orders more frequently — with rapid deliveries. How will we accomplish this goal? We can certainly outsource the capability or, if we see it as a strategic aspect of the business going forward, perhaps we should think about how to incorporate into our strategic capabilities.

From a sales and customer perspective, start looking at e-commerce capabilities. 24/7 access is a must with the ease of doing business built into the process. You’ll need to integrate into your ERP system or find a way to work collaboratively from a process and systems perspective one way or another to maintain high service levels at reasonable efficiency levels.

From a warehousing perspective, handling e-commerce is quite opposite of handling pallets and bulk shipments. Think about them as two separate warehousing functions. There is quite a bit of automated equipment and technology that can help you automate and increase efficiency. But don’t just jump in and sink. Start researching, ask experts and build a plan. There is no time to waste!

 



Staples & the Power of Customer Service

August 11th, 2016

supply chain

When I’ve needed customer service the most, Staples has been there! A while back, my house burned down. When that happened, the manager of the local Staples went WAY out of her way to help dig up old invoices to assist with the arduous accounting process. However, the reason I’m thinking about Staples now is because they came to my rescue again.

Last weekend, I attended the APICS district meeting in Newport Beach. After Friday’s Presidents meeting, I went to dinner with two colleagues. I left my laptop sitting on the desk in the hotel, knowing I had to write a proposal upon my return. When I got back to the room, my laptop was DEAD. I tried all sorts of things to make it work, looked up solutions on my phone, etc. It was hopeless. Thus, instead of writing a proposal, I was searching on my phone for a new laptop and sending emails to IT support resources to try to get help. Of course, my laptop would crash on Friday night with no provocation.

I have to say, several of my IT trusted advisors responded Saturday morning (nice to work with the best!); however, I couldn’t do much more until Monday. I planned to miss a session on Saturday to find a Best Buy. I looked out the window in the morning and saw Staples.

The tech guy at Staples (who was also an Assistant Manager but he came to help because the regular tech guy was tied up) was EXTREMELY helpful and tried all sorts of things to get my laptop working. He went over and beyond and made me feel much better. Although he couldn’t fix it while there, he set me up with the right hardware and people to save my data and work next steps. And he charged me $0. I left with a broken laptop — and happy.

After the meeting, I stopped at the Ontario Staples on the way home to pick up an interim laptop I purchased. Unfortunately, it turned out, it was in Ontario, Oregon; not Ontario, CA, but they were so helpful and made sure the LaVerne store was prepared for my arrival the next day that I felt good about my experience anyway. They even offered me free items for my trouble. Next, the LaVerne tech guy actually found the magic formula (that no one thought existed) and got my laptop working — same day, on a Sunday. More than the laptop help, they shined when it came to customer service. I will be back!

One tip to implement this week:

None of these folks were technically in customer service yet I will return to Staples because of their customer service. They were exceptional. They made me believe that my laptop troubles and helping me with my problem was their most important item of the day. Do you make your customers feel that way?

If you are in customer service, sales or an executive, you are on the front lines with your customers. Believe me, they always have a choice. Customer service will help you stand out from the crowd.

If you are in any other support position, you still have customers. For example, if you are in production, you probably have shipping and warehousing as your customers. If you are in production planning, customer service, operations and accounting are your customers. Everyone has customers. Do they want to work with you? This is certainly something where you can make an immediate impact. Think of how you want to be treated. What would stand out for you? Pass on the goodwill.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”



Trends: Are You Looking for What’s Coming?

March 28th, 2016

My most successful clients are constantly searching for what’s around the next corner. You cannot become complacent! Unfortunately, while you are resting on the sidelines, your competition will pass you by. Instead, be vigilant about looking for what is coming around the next corner and spotting trends.

A Supply Chain In a State of Flux

In supply chain, the world is constantly changing. Strikes occur. Storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like are very hard to predict. Natural disasters strike. Political unrest is significant. Costs evolve, especially in comparison to one another. Imagine how complex things get with currency fluctuations! Countries struggle – just look at what’s been going on in China. Oil and gas prices can have a great impact. Just look at products and countries dependent on the oil industry. The products cost less to produce but the countries and companies with significant oil exports are struggling. And the list goes on…

There are also strategic changes taking place. Amazon has created quite the stir with immediate deliveries and a membership model. This has created havoc in the distribution industry as e-commerce has become a necessity which also drives completely different warehousing and fulfillment operations to maintain efficiency. The green and sustainability movement has created many new requirements as well. How about water? Talk about a hot topic in California!

APICS-IE Event to Examine Supply Chain Trends

APICS, APICS-IE, Symposium, trends, supply chain trendsWhat is next on the horizon?  To be successful, you must keep up!  Join APICS Inland Empire for our executive panel and networking symposium on “Emerging Supply Chain Trends” at Eagle Glen golf club in Corona on April 30th.  We welcome members and non-members alike.  You’ll walk away with new ideas from top executives and supply chain gurus.  RSVP before it sells out.

 



Supply Chain Collaboration

October 7th, 2013
Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaborating with supply chain partners not only develops stronger partnerships but it also can deliver significant bottom line business results.

I’ve noticed that my strongest clients dedicate time and attention to developing relationships and collaborating with their suppliers, customers, transportation partners, brokers, trusted advisors etc.

There are countless options to think about …

1. Collaborative ordering – I’ve worked with multiple companies to set up processes so that they can determine what to order and when for their key customers (such as Boeing) – this creates a win-win.  You are a stronger partner to Boeing and you have the opportunity to optimize inventory, freight and internal efficiencies.

2. Supplier partnerships – Instead of win-lose negotiations; successful companies find win-win opportunities.  How can both companies increase profit, reduce time etc.?

3.  Warehousing partners – Look in unusual places for partners to share warehouse space – customers, suppliers, friendly competitors, other key relationships?  For example, who does your commercial banker know who might need to share costs?

4. Transportation partners – There are an amazing number of options to get from point A to point B.  Do you just hire a carrier or ship everything via UPS?  Have you thought about using rail in collaboration with local companies?  Pooling trucks?

5. Collaborative R&D – Are you involving your customers, suppliers, equipment suppliers, transportation providers and others in your product development process?  How else will you optimize packaging, customer needs, material options and more into one plan?

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Supply Chain Collaboration