As an eCommerce business, you need sufficient warehouse space that runs efficiently. You also need excellent distribution services to handle order fulfillment effectively.
There are stand-alone companies you could work with or you could consider a company that has an integrated warehouse solution.
What is an integrated warehouse solution?
Integrated warehouse solutions combine warehousing and logistics to provide a structure and systematic flow for order fulfillment. Instead of working with many different companies and components, you’re integrating processes to simplify the flow while maintaining high-quality service.
An integrated model is when a company provides end-to-end solutions that include warehousing, distribution and other value-added services (like reporting) all under one roof.
These services generally begin with market strategy and demand analysis, movement of products to warehouses and distribution centers and last-mile delivery.
Examples of integrated distribution are integrated distribution companies such as Multib2b which combine technology and expertise to handle sales, warehouse storage, fulfillment, and inventory management for their partners.
Warehousing is integrated into the distribution channels to ease the handling of items and the process of transporting the items from the manufacturer to the customer.
10 reasons why integrated warehousing solutions work
Integrated warehousing solutions are meant to solve problems that you would face when trying to manage multiple warehouses and distribution centers.
We believe it’s the best solution and here are 10 reasons why.
1. Higher efficiency
Integrated warehousing solutions offer you higher and more consistent efficiency. Warehousing and distribution measure efficiency differently but they are tied to one another. A systematized flow between warehouses and distribution services will ensure that your clients get their items on time and in good quality.
Each system might work great individually but it’s the seamless transition from one to the other that makes a difference. Integrating these processes allows better management decisions, reliability and accountability for providing effective services.
2. Value-added services
Third-party logistics (3PL) solution companies understand that you’re purchasing not just logistics but also customer service. They pride themselves on being able to offer excellent services and will go a long way to satisfy customers.
Companies with reliable communication channels and customer services add value to your company by assisting customers with post-sale services. Services that you hire are an extension of your organization and represent your company image. They are not just being paid to get the job done but to do it well and to impress your customers.
3. Lowered overhead costs
Administrative overhead costs would be reduced when all your services run under one control. There would be less paperwork as processes get moved through integrated technologies. Since the systems are already automated, the communications between warehousing and distributions would also be reduced.
With more efficient staffing and systems, costs would automatically be decreased as redundant processes can be removed. 3PL companies would consolidate staff and have the freedom to manage labor to achieve required results.
4. One point of contact
Ideally, multiple companies should still be able to work together to provide great service. However, realistically this leaves plenty of room for misunderstandings and blame between suppliers. Having one point of contact makes all communication easier and implementing strategies successfully across all processes.
Miscommunications are more likely to happen when information is transferred from one team to another but this can be avoided when a company operates with the same vision and mission. This also simplifies your job when anything goes wrong as you can rectify any issues by just calling one company to sort it out.
5. Automated systems and data sharing
The technology used to integrate warehousing and distributions uses automated systems. The orders that are accepted are automatically transferred to the warehousing and then to distribution. Inventory can also be synchronized and updated in real-time to avoid backdated inventory information.
Automated systems pick up data such as sales volumes, time taken for each operation, inventory and labor efficiencies. These data can be shared between warehousing, distribution and marketing to increase visibility. Transparency within the different departments leads to more informed decisions being made and better market analytics.
6. Quicker response times
Integrated warehouses can prioritize handling transfers from warehouses to deliveries speedily. When operations are centrally managed, tasks can be carried out with fewer delays by organizing inbound and outbound logistics. Scheduling operations efficiently will reduce timings on each individual step that compounds into much quicker response times.
Information is coordinated in advance and communication is clear from only one source. Warehouse staff can immediately start on the order fulfillment process the moment they get their pack list. Likewise, distribution teams would be informed immediately when they’re able to start the shipping process.
Overall efficiency is translated into quick customer service and delivery processes.
7. Increased flexibility
Different suppliers and companies may work at timings that clash with each other. It can also cause delays when timings don’t match up and schedules have to be altered. Using one integrated system increases flexibility with timings and management to meet your requirements.
3PL companies that are able to offer more services are also often bigger companies. This comes with its own advantages of being able to provide bigger capacities and facilitate the growth of your business. When necessary, it is possible to pull over extra resources to assist operations when there is a sudden increase in volume.
Flexibility comes in handy during seasonal sales and when attempting to grow market reach. It is also a clever business strategy to work with companies that offer flexibility because it will come in handy when there are unexpected changes.
8. Access to marketing strategists
Choosing a company that offers comprehensive services would also give you access to market strategists who are familiar with the eCommerce sector. Conducting market analysis and choosing the right strategy would set your business apart from your competitors.
Great marketers will ensure that your email marketing and online advertising strategies are effective. These require the combination of proper data collection and targeting the right customers for advertisements.
Strategists would also run market feasibility assessments for your products to help study and understand the profitability of your venture.
Experienced companies provide you with these services and draw out product roadmaps to understand the marketing, pricing and merchandising that they can offer you.
Integrated services that also offer you improved marketing are dedicated to helping you increase your sales and growth.
Hiring one company to handle both warehousing and distributing means that there is greater accountability when there are errors. It is not simply a game of blaming another party but there will be steps taken to make sure that mistakes are not repeated.
When a company is in charge of all the processes, usually they will resolve errors quickly. A responsible 3PL company works hard to own up to shortcomings and offer more helpful solutions to move towards better service.
10. Experts in your market niche
A company that is experienced in your business niche would be in the best position to serve you. For example, if you are selling furniture, you would want to work with a company that understands your needs and how the market would respond to your products.
They would also be able to provide you with the right warehousing and distribution technology to safely transport and store your products.
It is possible to coordinate multiple suppliers to handle your order fulfillment process but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice for your company.
Hiring the right fulfillment partner to provide integrated warehousing solutions will give you a competitive edge because it works better.
Talk to a company today to see how they can simplify your process and help you out!
The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “Warehouse Management Systems”