Fulfillment & Third Party Logistics Blog

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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Improving Furniture Logistics: Where to Start?

Congratulations! You have just been hired as the Senior Vice President of a major furniture manufacturer.  The first task at hand is to tighten all logistics operations.  A report on your desk lists the three initiatives as: reduce costs, decrease damaged products, and increase customer satisfaction.  Essentially, you need to overhaul the entire logistics function of this furniture manufacturer.  Distribution and transportation has never been your specialty, so where do you begin?

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Four Supply Lessons from the World Cup

Visibility isn’t just a key skillset that the best athletes in world leverage on the biggest stages.  Being able to account for, anticipate and react to 21 other elite level performers requires the ability to be aware of and process tremendous levels of information and make instant decisions based on that data.  This skill is illustrated countless times over a 90 minute soccer match.  For more people than ever before, these past few weeks have created the opportunity for them to witness this during the World Cup. 

Visibility is also the key ingredient required for supply chain coordination, especially in times of seasonal peaks and temporary purchasing surges.  Having products in the right place, at the right time is essential to maintain your brand at the height of excitement, during events just like the World Cup. 

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Streamlining Toy and Game Fulfillment with a 3PL

It’s early in the morning; the sun hasn’t risen yet, and there are footsteps rapidly descending down the stairs.  Luckily, Mom is already there with the camera, and before Dad can set his coffee down, the bows, wrapping paper and ribbon begin  to fly.  There are very few things in this world as special as seeing a child open a much sought after gift.  We all have those memories of birthday parties, holidays and random presents from grandma and grandpa.  The mystery of what is under the wrapping paper and the anticipation of opening that box is as enjoyable to experience as it is to witness.  Sadly, the opposite is also true. 

The best laid plans can go awry, turning a beautiful moment into a painful memory.  And whether your customers realize it or not, your order fulfillment operation plays a decisive role in making sure your customers have an enjoyable experience.  The toy industry, like most, is experiencing changes spurred by the emergence of mobile technology.  Faster delivery times, cheaper shipment options and specialized fulfillment alternatives are becoming the expectation of consumers; unfortunately, traditional supply chain channels are finding it difficult to scale to these new demands.  Not only are these traditional fulfillment solutions quickly becoming less effective, they are no longer cost or time efficient, lead to a higher error rate and detract from branding.   

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Chemical Logistics: Increasing Safety and Effectiveness with a 3PL

You see flashing lights up ahead.  Almost immediately they are accompanied by brake lights, yours included.  After a few minutes of idling, you tune in for a traffic report and learn that this is not a typical fender bender.  Instead, a tanker truck is leaking a corrosive and reactive substance.  As fire trucks and other first responders begin to speed by toward the scene, your inconvenient stay in traffic just became a frightening ordeal.

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Cosmetic Fulfillment Services: A Specialized Process

Thousands of dollars have been spent in advertising. Direct Mailers and VIP invitations have gone out in the mail. Sales projections from corporate are at an historic high. The big cosmetic product launch is less than a week away. Amanda Jones, a cosmetic manager for a major Health & Beauty retailer, is hoping the results are as big as the pre-show hype.  Amanda has trained and prepared her team, ordered extra inventory, and re-designed the floor plan for her department. Everyone from the CEO to the newly hired sales member is anticipating the most successful cosmetic launch event in the history of the company. The pressure is on.

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The 3PL Key to Automotive Part Fulfillment Accuracy

Meet Suzie Smith.  Suzie was just ticketed by a police officer in Boise, Idaho because the brake light for her SUV was defective. This incident may seem like a simple everyday traffic violation. However, this one isolated scenario can and will create a negative connotation with the car manufacturer’s brand if not corrected. How can something so minor in scope present such an epic dilemma for an organization? It all starts with your fulfillment center operation.

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4 Elements for E-Commerce Success

Did you ever imagine a time when you would purchase toilet paper online? The web is now 25 years old, and e-commerce is now a part of our everyday lives.  With purchases like toilet paper being made online, it is no wonder why U.S. e-commerce has experienced double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2014. Forrester Research projects that by the year 2017, e-commerce will comprise 10% of all retail purchases in the nation. 

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