Ready to start taking orders? Your retailer may have multiple merchandising strategies to fit their ‘omni-channel’ sales model so be sure that your warehousing and shipping factors in an assortment of sales programs, pricing, benefits and challenges. Where your product will ship from and where your retailers want it to land can impact costs, product turn time, stock levels, compliance and retailer satisfaction.

My Home is My Warehouse

For many new inventors, stock may be stored in a spare room, garage or nearby mini-storage. It’s a way to avoid warehouse fees and keep product on hand for quick ship. It’s exciting in the beginning but fulfillment may become more challenging and costs may rise as orders multiply. Compare pricing to determine if your shipping vendors are charging a higher rate for residential pickup. What is the actual cost and extra effort to ensure you have pickups and returns covered? If your shipping location is far from a major shipping hub, prone to bad weather, or cannot accommodate large trucks or pallets – all factors that may not meet your retailer’s shipping requirements, it may be time to explore using a warehouse or 3PL (third party logistics company).

My Stock Is in a Warehouse/3PL

Depending upon the quantity and frequency of your orders, you may go to the warehouse to fulfill orders. Or, you may stock in a warehouse that fulfills orders for you. For your target retailers, calculate the costs of shipping to a single distribution center (DC) or store from your warehouse or 3PL (integrated warehouse and transportation) and then from a warehouse nearer to your retailer’s store or DC. If your retailer wants product shipped to multiple DCs and/or store locations, price out the cost to locate your stock at a centralized warehouse and shipping hub that accommodates all your trading partner shipping requirements. For all these options, shipping time is always a primary consideration.

My Stock is Overseas Near the Manufacturer

Consider your international partners wisely and factor in the hassle and time difference for communication. Your international warehouse is going to have to be trusted, savvy and experienced with your retailer and your market to ensure that your orders get to the stores or distribution centers on time and without errors that can cost big money in chargebacks and damage your retailer relationship.

I’m in a Drop Ship Program

For a drop ship program, no matter where your warehouse is, a dining room table or across the country, you’re going to be shipping product direct to the consumer in very small quantities. Work with your retailer to understand their fulfillment requirements and heed their suggestions. If they have a preferred shipping company and process, it’s probably time tested and may be more cost effective. Some retailers actually pay for shipping so you can strike that line item from your P&L. Once you’re ready for a full-service warehouse or 3PL, look for one that specializes in drop ship or direct to consumer programs.

Deliver More For Less

Building a trusting relationship with your shipping and warehouse providers is crucial; what’s the benefit of making a huge sale if you can’t deliver? Be on the lookout for software partners and tools that can help solve shipping problems while saving you time, maintaining retailer compliance and keeping your costs low. See if your warehouse can securely perform shipping-related EDI tasks such as carton packing, GS1-128 label printing and advance shipping notifications (ASNs). Integrated accounting and shipping applications with shared tracking information are also a big time and headache saver.

What’s Next?

We invite you contact Inventorz Networks’ order management Expert Member Adele Rosenblum at eZCom Software.  Adele has worked with many Inventorz Network members and can be reached at 201-731-1801 direct or [email protected].

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