8 Best Practices to Improve Your E-commerce Warehousing and Distribution

E-commerce distribution and fulfillment strategy isn’t a “one and done” exercise. The market can change unpredictably from one year to the next, and you’ll need to change with it. There are several ways to thrive with this variability, of course. A universal method  is to orient your business around a handful of core “best practices,” which – like taking a “wellness” approach to your physical health – can help make your operations robust enough to keep rolling through good times and bad.

Maximize Your Distribution Footprint

Amazon’s move to two-day shipping left a lot of companies scrambling to catch up. For smaller players with one or two main distribution centers, it’s difficult to match Amazon’s speed of delivery across a large geographic area. Utilizing a number of satellite distribution points, especially in areas where you have high customer density, can help keep you competitive.

Don’t Over-Commit to Warehouse Space

Owning or leasing your own space in core geographic areas is useful, but as your shipping volume and geographic footprint expand, it quickly becomes costly. Worse, the drain on your financial resources can limit your ability to respond to market changes. Instead of negotiating to purchase or lease increased capacity, consider partnering with a warehouse-sharing service. You’ll have real-time access to warehouse space when and where you need it, without paying for excess capacity. Additionally, you can turn any existing excess into a revenue stream by hosting inventory for third parties.

Invest in A “Crystal Ball”

That isn’t as facetious as it sounds. The more closely you’re able to forecast the demand for your products over each planning period – month, quarter, year – the more improvement you’ll see in your operational efficiency. Your management systems software should contain all the data you need to project this year’s sales from previous years’ data. You may need to upgrade its reporting and data-analysis capabilities, which represents an additional cost, but the benefits are significant. With better information in your hands you can plan for better use of available warehouse space, minimize over- and under-ordering, improve your on-time delivery metrics and much more.

Use Multiple Fulfillment Channels

For startups, it often makes sense to simply place product in Amazon’s hands through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). As you grow, the potential downsides and limitations Amazon’s system will become more of an issue. Keeping a few key SKUs within Amazon’s system may make sense, especially if they’re Prime-eligible, but you don’t necessarily have to lock yourself into one channel. A multi-channel strategy can keep you nimble and flexible. With some products it might make sense to arrange drop shipping service with the manufacturer, and you might want to keep shipping in-house or partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company. Keep your options open.

Plan For Scale

“Begin as you mean to go on,” an old aphorism, is still good advice. Your distribution strategy isn’t just a matter of getting products to customers today; it should also provide you with a clear path for scaling up as your sales increase. If you can’t add capacity quickly when needed, you won’t be able to take full advantage of suddenly-hot products, and may run the risk of losing customers and goodwill. 

Optimize for Efficient Picking (and Receiving)

Picking is one of the most time- and labor-intensive parts of the fulfillment process, which means it’s also an area where any efficiencies you can find will yield maximum payback. Keeping your most popular SKUs in the most accessible places, closest to the docks, speeds both picking and receiving. So does clustering items commonly ordered together, so your pickers can work efficiently. If you have the resources, investing in  automation or specialized machinery can improve the function of your existing warehouse spaces.

Embrace the Available Technology

The challenges inherent to ecommerce distribution all become more manageable when you astutely leverage the technology available, especially the so-called “Industrial Internet of Things” or IioT. Shippers have already used telematics for decades to know where their trucks are, and smart scanning and barcoding have made it easier to track the physical location of units within a warehouse space. IioT takes that to a higher level, potentially providing you with a real-time overview of every product within your system. It’s a powerful tool that makes many of these other “best practices” much more attainable.

Partner With a Superior 3PL

Distribution is a whole set of skill sets in itself, one that doesn’t necessarily coincide with your core business and expertise. At some point in your growth, you’ll have to make a decision whether you want to grow that expertise in-house or outsource it by partnering with a high-quality 3PL. 

Outsourcing to a premier 3PL like Taylored Fulfillment Services is a logical evolution of your current distribution strategy.  In doing so, you also outsource the implementation of these and other industry “best practices.”

With TFS, you get all of the above:

  • A geographic footprint covering the continent, anchored by main distribution hubs on both coasts and encompassing a national network of smaller centers. 
  • Flexible warehousing that doesn’t require you to own and operate your own space. Aside from our own warehouses, we’re a partner in the FLEXE network, so you never need to worry about finding space for your products. 
  • Our inventory management and warehouse management software systems provide all the data you need to make informed choices and accurate plans as you grow your business. 
  • Drop-shipping services and Amazon’s FBA program take the work of inventory handling and warehousing out of your hands. We do the same for all the rest of your SKUs so you can focus on your core business. 
  • Our current client base ranges from small independent ecommerce sellers to massive chains like Costco and Walmart. Scaling up your distribution network will never be an issue. 
  • As a leading 3PL, our reputation rides on the efficiency of our warehousing operations—we handle  it, so you won’t have to.
  • We have the resources to invest in state-of-the-art technology. That enables us to provide efficient, accountable service up and down our portion of your supply chain, from the moment we receive the product from your suppliers to the moment it reaches its destination. 

Contact us today for a consultation and learn how we can draw on our quarter-century of leadership to help your growing company. 

References:

FLEXE.com: Ecommerce Fulfillment

WebRetailer: Ecommerce Fulfillment – How to Choose a Strategy and Service Provider

6 River Systems: 50 Expert Warehouse Order Picking Tips, Strategies and Best Practices

Yale Materials Handling Corporation: Increasing Slot Capacity and Picking Efficiency

Yale Materials Handling Corporation: The Industrial Internet of Things Driving the Big Data Boom

Cision PR Newswire: 3PL Provider Taylored Services Receives Recognition as a FLEXE Premium Provider

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Carteret, NJ

Address:
800 Federal Boulevard
Carteret, NJ 07008

Size: 300,000 sqft

Technology:
• RF Technology
• Narrow aisle high bay rack system
• Apparel and Accessories
• High value storage area, secured yard
• Transload and Pool consolidation
• Omnichannel distribution

Chino, CA #1 & #2

Address:
14050 Norton Ave,
Chino, CA 91710

Size: 400,000 sqft

Major Equipment:
• Automated high speed sortation
• Locus Robotics

Technology:
• Synapse
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Apparel
• Footwear
• Accessories
• Jewelry
• Bulk Materials

Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
• Kitting
• VAS

JONATHAN ROSENTHAL - COB

Jonathan has spent a lifetime as an entrepreneur. He started his
first company, NetAir International, in 1983. It was innovative as
the first multi-city on-demand jet charter company and grew into
the largest operation of its kind in the U.S. His second venture was
in launching Saybrook Partners, a merchant bank in 1990 and
later Saybrook Corporate Opportunity Funds in 207. Jonathan
serves in numerous leadership roles, including as founder and
chairman of the LA Harbor Performance Enhancement Center,
WherehouseIT.com, and the Harvard Graduate School Leadership
Institute. He also serves on the Marine Transportation System
National Advisory Committee, Los Angeles Sustainable Freight
Advisory Board, and the University of Southern California Center
for Supply Chain Management board of directors. He earned a B.
A. in Philosophy from California State University, Northridge, B.A.
Sc. in International Law and Legal Studies from Uppsala
University and a J.D., law from Southwestern Law School.

Jonathan is passionate about both expanding and sharing his
knowledge and expertise. He has lectured in transformational
change at the University of Chicago, UCLA, John’s Hopkins, and
Harvard College.

JOE DESAYE - CEO TFMI

Joseph DeSaye has spent over 40 years in logistics. His journey began in 1980 when he co-founded FMI International with his father and brother, specializing in air and ocean forwarding services. Together, they expanded the company to include comprehensive services that grossed over $350 million in sales.

He has a proven track record of success, growth, and leadership within the logistics industry.

THOMAS MCCORMACK - CIO

Thomas has dedicated over 20 years of his career to working in IT for 3PL companies where he has grown to deeply understand the importance of keeping pace with a dynamic and ever-changing marketplace. Prior to joining Taylored in 2014, he led IT or a $2.8 billion window manufacturer and a $1.2 billion electronic media organization. He holds a degree in accelerated mathematics/calculus from LaGuardia Community College and an MBA with a focus on computer software engineering from Fordham University.

Thomas is passionate about coaching and mentoring teams and sharing his experience in cross-functional team leadership. He knows that one of the best ways to grow an organization in today’s society is through the implementation of effective technology that allows them to stay ahead.

MIKE YUSKO - CFO

Mike overseas finance, human resources, and legal at Taylored, as well as directing Taylored’s operating companies. After over 35 years in 3PL, vitamins and supplements, consumer products, engineering, and construction, he is a man of many talents. He has served as CFO at companies ranging in size from $50-$700 million and spent 15 years at PepsiCo as the senior finance leader of a $1.2 billion beverage unit.

Mike holds a B.S. in business administration and accounting from Clarion State College. He is passionate about providing solid leadership and applying “Fortune 50” know how to elevate smaller companies.

JIM DEVEAU - CEO

Jim Deveau is a retailer at heart, with over 20 years of experience leading in the retail industry with companies such as Lord & Taylor, AnnTaylor, Charming Shoppes, and Footstar. After assisting with Footstar’s restructure in 2004, Jim transitioned into the 3PL industry. Over the next ten years, he held various C-suite positions at FMI International, Summit International Logistics, and Toll Global Forwarding before becoming Taylored’s President and CEO and board director.

Jim is passionate about sharing his knowledge. Holding an undergraduate and graduate degree from Northeastern University, together with his extensive experience, he frequently speaks at industry trade shows and conferences and has been recognized as a leader within the industry. He also currently sits on the advisory board of warehouse exchange and was chosen by the US Chamber of Commerce to represent retail trade post 9/11.

Chino, CA #1 & #2

Address:
14050 Norton Ave,
Chino, CA 91710

Size: 400,000 sqft

Major Equipment:
• Automated high speed sortation
• Locus Robotics

Technology:
• Synapse
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Apparel
• Footwear
• Accessories
• Jewelry
• Bulk Materials

Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
• Kitting
• VAS

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Address:
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Size: 440,000 sqft

Technology:
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• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Apparel
• Footwear
• Accessories
• Jewelry
• Sporting Goods
• Home Goods
• Bulk Materials

Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
• Kitting
• VAS

Miami, FL

Address:
2100 NW 129th Ave, Suite 100
Miami, Fl 33182

Size: 319,000 sqft

Technology:
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• Narrow aisle high bay rack system
• Apparel and accessories
• Transload and pool consolidation
• Omnichannel distribution

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Address:
8375 Sultana Ave
Fontana, CA 92335

Size: 225,000 sqft

Technology:
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• Accellos
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Home Goods
• Bedding Accessories
• Electronics
• CPG Liquids

Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
• Kitting
• VAS

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Address:
3355 Dulles Avenue
Mira Loma, CA 91752

Size: 540,000 sqft

Major Equipment:
• Automated high speed sortation

Technology:
• FoxPro
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Home Goods
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Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
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Address:
2000 East Carson St.
Carson, CA 90810
Size: 294,000 sqft

Technology:
• FoxPro
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Furniture

Processing:
• Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Transload
• VAS

San Pedro, CA

Address:
400 Westmont Drive
San Pedro, CA 90731

Size: 513,000 sqft

Technology:
• FoxPro
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Apparel
• Footwear
• Electronics
• Furniture

Processing:
• Wholesale, Retail, DTC
• Full Case Distribution
• Cross Dock
• Transload
• Pick & Pack
• Kitting
• VAS

Port of LA, CA

Address:
2401 E Pacific Coast Hwy
Wilmington, CA 90744

Size: 600,000 sqft

Technology:
• FoxPro
• Warehouse Management
• Transportation Management
• Routing & Compliance
• Document Management
• Custom Reporting
• Web Portal
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Specialty:
• Electronics
• Furniture
• Bulk Materials
• Home Goods

Processing:
• Transload
• Kitting

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Address:
231 Mill Road,
Edison, NJ 08837

Size: 260,000 sqft

Technology:
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• Store consolidation
• Omnichannel distribution

Louisville, KY

Address:
7501 Winstead Drive
Louisville, KY 40258

Size: 319,000 sqft

Technology:
• RF Technology
• Wire guided high bay rack system
• Apparel, footwear, and accessories
• Omnichannel distribution

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