A very small operation might have “great” order fulfillment for their size and scope, but that doesn’t mean they are capped in their potential.
We will describe what great order fulfillment looks like at TQS Logistics when order volume is high, SKU velocity a blur, and your reach is international. Then you’ll quickly be able to see what you’re doing well, and where your growth opportunities are.
Read on for the details.
Defining the term
The semantic waters get muddy whenever we don’t define our terms from the start. Here, we’re using “great” to mean “at full potential,” specifically in a high-volume warehousing context. So unless yours is one of the most effective supply chains in the world, we’ll assume you have room to grow.
With that said, “great order fulfillment” can be defined as:
- .5% error rate or less.
- SKUs never (or very rarely) out of stock.
- Turnaround time within 24 hours, or the shortest standard that is feasible in your industry.
- Multiple warehouse locations, to keep delivery times short while your range is long.
- Inventory is classified and organized well, keeping your handling times to a minimum.
- Order Promising is not based on shipping schedules, but has built-in buffers. In the event that any hiccups happen, you should be able to still meet your delivery promises.
- Orders are assembled and packaged with care.
- Any customer-specific or product-specific needs are accounted for with every order.
- Competitively priced
- Costs will continually fluctuate (though trend upwards) over time, so you should always be on the lookout for ways to reduce operating costs, passing some of that on to your last-mile recipients.
- Every customer and every sales channel will have attendant needs. Be ready to say “yes” when a customer asks if you support their particular circumstances.
- Customers will change their minds, and their orders. Be ready and able to make last-minute modifications to orders, or to receive returned merchandise.
- Warehouse should have Cycle Counts implemented.
- Everyone who needs it should have easy and organized access to customer information, detailed purchase orders, relevant carrier information, and any special considerations.
- Orders should have a real-time bird’s-eye-view available, in every phase from receipt to delivery.
- Clear KPIs and benchmarks to gauge success and growth.
- Inventory, orders, and shipping information should be thoroughly documented.
- Physical warehouse capacity has room for growth.
- WMS does not have an upper limited.
- Qualified labor is readily available during each growth phase.
- Your warehouse and docking facility isn’t going to become a strip mall in three years.
- The right employees have been cultivated and incentivized to stay.
- Customer service should be available in one form or another. Questions arise and last-minute changes happen; follow-through is crucial.
- Special delivery services should be available (reefer trucks, lift gates, etc).
- Your Order Fulfillment process (rather, the WMS which keeps track of it) should have a detailed history on every customer, helping you to predict each customer’s seasonality. This will keep you prepared for peaks in order volume.
Defining the tools
The right WMS will improve your score card in almost every area. Short for Warehouse Management System, a WMS is the combination of tools, technologies, and software which will help you – you guessed it – manage almost every aspect of your warehouse.
The only pieces of the above list that a WMS won’t help with are those which pertain directly to your customers, your employees, or to the physicalities of your warehouse. This includes the headings of thorough, durable, available, predictive, and part of scalable. These headings require a personal touch. Everything else can be directly improved by implementing the right WMS.
We at TQS have developed our own WMS for use in our facilities. Our years of experience in Shipping Logistics and Supply Chain Management left us with a range of likes and dislikes with other third party solutions out there, so we cultivated the best-of-the-best technologies in the industry to better meet the needs of our customers.
This solution is called TQS™ Fusion, reflecting the synthesis of the best traits of every WMS we’ve worked with. And it comes as an integral part in each of our facilities.
Defining the strategy
This is where most companies falter. They look at the above list, get an idea of the scope of expertise and expense required, and begin to wonder if they’d rather stay small in order to stay afloat. After all, without some pre-existing infrastructure in place, getting to this level of quality would be a nearly insurmountable undertaking.
Unless you outsource these things to a Third Party Logistics coordinator, like TQS. We already have the infrastructure and expertise in place, ready to take your order fulfillment process from Good to Great – greatly extending your reach without overextending your budget. We’ll start you off with a free quote, to see how we can help you grow.