Fulfillment & Third Party Logistics Blog

Barrett Distribution Centers Named to the 2014 Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List

Franklin, MA – August 25, 2014- For the third consecutive year, Barrett Distribution Centers has been honored as a part of the 2014 Inc. 500 | 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the nation.  This is Barrett’s sixth appearance on the list.  Prior honors include 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013.

“Barrett Distribution Centers is proud to be in the company of so many of the most respected companies in America.  We are grateful to our customers and team for making this achievement possible for a sixth time.” 

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Traceability in the Food Supply Chain

You just logged into your eBay account and strategically placed the winning bid for the putter you’ve had your eye on for months.  In only a few short days, your golf bag will receive the final piece of the puzzle and your odds in the approaching club championship just improved.  So as you scrub, shine and polish the other residents of your cart bag in anticipation of your newest addition, you can search, refresh and track each step your putter makes on its way to your doorstep.  From the desktop in your office to your phone in your pocket, the location of your purchase is at your fingertips.  The ability to trace your order from a warehouse 1,200 miles away to your mailbox is an incredible thing.  The traceability available in the food supply chain is, however, more complex.

When you consider the multitude of elements that make up the ingredients that comprise our food supply chain, it is staggering.  Add in the wide ranging destinations from which they originate, and maintaining visibility becomes quite challenging.  The importance of food safety spans much farther than your bottom line. The ability to track a food product to its origins is essential in effectively enforcing a recall, as well as controlling and preventing an outbreak.

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Electronics Fulfillment: The Growing Role of Reverse Logistics

After a long spring and summer, football is finally back on the horizon.  NFL teams are in camp, preseason games are quickly approaching and this is the year you’ve finally decided to upgrade your viewing experience.  We’re not talking about season tickets.  This is better.  A brand new, 70-inch ultra HD television.  The gameday experience is going to come alive in your living room.  It will be as if you’re actually on the field. 

So the day finally comes.  The delivery truck has left your driveway and as you peel the box back you notice a crack that spans from one corner to the center of the screen.  Luckily for you, there are still a few days before the first game kicks off.  For the electronics retailer and manufacturer, this will be another component that enters the reverse logistics cycle.

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3PL and E-Commerce: 10 B2B Stats

It’s that time of the year again.

The time of year when we see more school buses than cars on the street.  The time of year when school zones are bustling with kids and crossing guards as we make our way to work.  The time of year when aisles at Wal-Mart and Target are buzzing with parents trying to find those last minute school supplies.

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Food Logistics: A Focus on Safety

According to Statista 86% of Americans are seriously to moderately concerned about health or safety related food recalls.  And rightfully so, considering that many foodborne illnesses are potentially lethal, including salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and even Hepatitis A.  As a core concern of American families, there is nothing more important to preserving your brand image than maintaining a safe and clean food supply chain.  Do you remember the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA)?  In 2008, they were forced out of business shortly after it was discovered that they were the cause of a major salmonella outbreak.  More than 700 people became seriously ill.  9 people died.  The PCA underwent Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is still fighting civil lawsuits in court to this day.  The damage didn’t stop there either, but extended to retailers who used the peanuts in their products.  PCA had distributed contaminated peanuts as raw goods for companies such as Kellogg and Walmart, costing the two retailers over $70 million in recall related expenses. This may be an extreme example, but it is an eye-opening anecdote illustrating the potential impact that poor oversight of your food supply chain can have.

As you can see, it is not enough to control what happens inside your facility.  Your suppliers and vendors are also responsible for the safety of your products.  In recent news, a Chinese meat processor came under fire for selling expired and contaminated meat to popular fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell.  Already, Yum! Brands, owners of KFC and Taco Bell, have announced huge losses of sales and a 5% slump in their stock.  As you can see, it is not enough to oversee your own operations.  It is crucial to have oversight of your supplier’s operations in order to ensure that what comes in the door is safe. 

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Retail Supply Chain & Hot Dogs: The Perfect Logistics Analogy

Is there anything more American than spending a summer day at the ballpark watching baseball and eating a perfectly crafted Chicago style hot dog? This question conjures up an array of delightful memories for most, but one thought that undoubtedly never transpires is, “How was this hot dog made?”  If you are like most, you don’t care about all of the details of how the hot dog is made, but you do care that it tastes great.  The same core philosophy holds true with retail logistics.  Everyone expects product to be in the right place at the right time, and they are not as concerned about what it takes to get it there.

Like a Chicago style hot dog, the retail supply chain is more complex than many realize.  One single item passes through numerous hands and processes before being placed inside a retail store or on a consumer’s doorstep.  Manufacturers, merchandisers, vendors, distributors, and carriers all play a vital role in ensuring the timely and accurate delivery to the retail establishment.  While this relationship sounds simplistic, it is indeed quite complex as there are many factors that contribute to the ultimate goal of timely and accurate delivery. 

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Fulfillment Visibility: The Black Hole of Cosmetic Distribution

Imagine hitting a golf ball while blindfolded and on a course you have never played.  Without knowing the distance to the hole or the layout of the golf course, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of landing on the fairway. 

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3 Supply Chain Contingency Planning Tips for Medical Device Companies

The recent months have brought some intense weather to all corners of our country.  From the “Polar Vortex” last winter to violent tornadoes across the Midwest to Hurricane Arthur, each new day and week holds something new and potentially challenging.  The only thing constant about weather is change.  Theses volatile climate patterns unfortunately bring more than wind, snow, rain and lightning.  Unfortunately these events cause a spike in emergency room and hospital visits.  There have already been 41 tornado fatalities in 2014, according to NOAA.  In fact during the Polar Vortex, Modernhealthcare.com reported that hospitals in Detroit brought in additional staff on multiple occasions to treat ER patients.

To make things more challenging, these additional visits and demands on hospital staffs and medical groups are often coupled with constraints on resources and accessibility.  Over the 4th of July weekend, Hurricane Arthur left over 40,000 people with power and even caused a part of North Carolina Hwy. 12 to buckle on Hatteras Island.  Last winter’s frigid temperatures and precipitation forced numerous surgeries and procedures to be rescheduled or cancelled.  While organizations have contingency plans and redundancies in place to account for these scenarios, what back up strategy is there to account for supply chain complications? 

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Medical Device Logistics: Answering The Challenges

In the world of medicine, there is perhaps no more important quality than precision.

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Automotive Part Logistics: 3 Keys to Strategic Planning

Do you remember what a lengthy process it used to be to pick up a new movie from the video store? You would plan your evening commute to swing by the local video store on your way home.  After rummaging through the hundreds of titles lining the wall, you finally come across the latest installment of Die Hard, or Terminator, or whatever Julia Roberts was doing at the time.  You hand over your membership card and are on your way.  That’s a lot of legwork for a two hour movie.  Those were the days.  Today, all you have to do is press the Netflix or Hulu app on your phone, tablet or even television remote to instantly connect to thousands of titles.  This saves time on your way home, room in your wallet and space on your shelf. 

The way we watch movies and TV isn’t the only thing to drastically change in the past 20 years.  There has been a major overhaul in the way automotive parts are ordered, shipped, tracked and used.  This evolution was by no means unsolicited.  In the same way consumer demand and access forced video stores to go the way of the dinosaurs, customer expectations and market conditions have forced auto part fulfillment processes to become as streamlined as possible.  As such, strategic planning in the automotive supply chain is more important than ever.

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3 Reasons Your E-Commerce and Fulfillment Platforms Should Integrate

Brian has been scouring the internet for weeks, and today all of the typing and searching has paid off.  He tracked down a replica of the championship hat and t-shirt from his favorite team’s title run.   It’s a bittersweet discovery, because that same team hasn’t won a title in over 20 years.  But nonetheless, with a click of the mouse, they will be waiting on his doorstep in only a matter of days.    

While the convenience of technology has made shopping easier than ever, it has presented new opportunities, as well as challenges for retailers.  In addition to retailers, it has also opened up an entire new avenue of business, e-commerce.  E-commerce is expected to account for $370 billion by 2017 according to Forrester Research, making up 10% of all retail sales in the United States.  With such huge engagement and potential, competition is higher than ever before. 

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The Importance of Quality Food Logistics

The alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m.   Just like every morning you hit the snooze button.  At 6:24 a.m. it goes off again.   You rub the sleep out of your eyes and your morning routine begins.  Dressed and ready for work, the only thing you need on your way out of the door is your morning coffee.  Freshly brewed and waiting in your favorite travel mug, you reach into the refrigerator to add a splash of milk.  As you lift the cap from the half full milk carton, an odor fills your kitchen and you quickly realize you’ll be taking your coffee “black” this morning.  Checking the expiration date, you begin to pour four dollars’ worth of milk down the drain five days earlier than the dairy promised you.  Now your morning, much like your milk, is spoiled.  Realizing there is going to be a ticked off 4 year old who can’t have chocolate milk coming down the stairs any minute, you quickly head out to the office.

When it comes to managing the supply chain of our food supply, there is absolutely no margin for error.  Timely and accurate delivery is just one key element.  Having the resources and abilities to handle and maintain the quality and integrity of food products affects everything from your brand image, to your retail partners to the end consumer.  The American Consumer Report in 2013 shows that 84% of people that experienced a prematurely spoiled product immediately changed brands.  This is a powerful and scary trend when you consider that Marketing Metrics shows that selling to a new prospect has a 5%-20% success rate versus 60%-70% for an existing patron.  It is much more expensive and difficult to bring a new customer into your fold.  Continuing to provide a quality product can also create efficiencies.  A 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as lowering costs by 10% according to Emmet & Mark Murphy’s Leading on the Edge of Chaos.

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