Fulfillment & Third Party Logistics Blog

Mitigating Supply Chain Risk: 4 Strategic Tips

Everyone has likely heard the saying “You’ve got to spend money to make money”.  Whether it is investing in research and development or devoting capital to inventory, the ideal result for every dollar spent is to generate a positive return.  While the direct path of spending towards products and services can be analyzed, tracked and determined, there are other avenues that don’t get as much attention, but are capable of producing a much greater financial benefit.

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Big Data Analytics in the Supply Chain

Finding key consumer information used to be like finding a needle in a haystack.  To an extent, it still is.  However, there are a lot more needles in the hay today.  With companies gathering more data than ever before, they are in need of new strategies and tools to leverage the power of this information.  The importance of this type of access to information is not lost on supply chain executives.  According to Accenture, 97% of executives claim to understand how these analytics can benefit supply chain operations.  However, only 17% reported having implemented this data into a supply chain function.  Industry Week broke down three key practices that distinguish the companies with big data success.  To read the article, click here.     

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Footwear Fulfillment: Enhanced Distribution for Better Customer Service

Not being able to find something can be one of the most frustrating parts of any day.  Scavenging for misplaced car keys, searching for a parking spot in the zip code as the mall, and noticing the gate in the backyard was left open and the dog is taking a tour of the neighborhood are all things that make us late and frustrated.  The same thing is true when someone is looking for pair of shoes and either can’t find them in the store or can’t find them in their size.  When this happens customers will either leave your store and look elsewhere, or find a different brand that has what they are looking for, when they are looking for it.

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Consumer Electronics: Three Big Things

As the economy rebounds, major electronics and appliance manufacturers continue to develop new and improved products at a rapid pace.  This is an industry with an ever-evolving landscape.  To navigate these changes, there are three key ideas consumer electronics and appliance companies should keep in mind.

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The Importance of Athletic Apparel Reverse Logistics

There is something to be said for the peace and serenity of having a home off of the beaten path.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the stars are a little brighter and evenings a little quieter.  Of course, the privacy that comes with this seclusion also comes with a long driveway.  Whether it’s a steep, paved path down to your garage, or a long, winding trail that disappears behind the trees, it is generally easier to get to your destination than it is to return.  The same is true for athletic apparel logistics. 

The processes in place to get a product from the warehouse to the customer are very similar to driving your car to your house, very well-rehearsed and effective.  However, just like driving in reverse up a 45 degree incline in the dark can be a difficult task, so is managing reverse logistics.  Whether you’re negotiating bicycles, garage doors and the family dog or managing returns, refunds and in-transit inventory, streamlining reverse logistics can create key bottom line opportunities and advantages. 

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Food Logistics: Protecting Perishables on the Move

We’ve all been there.  After a long stroll through the aisles at your grocery store, navigating shopping carts and couponers, you finally get your haul to the trunk of your hot car.  As you load your milk, ice cream, ground beef and eggs, you say a little prayer that you make it home before it all goes bad.  Sure enough, the gas light is on as you start the car and the radio announces that there is car accident blocking a lane on your drive home.  If a couple small snags can derail your trip home from the grocery store, imagine the obstacles that lie between a fresh food product in the warehouse and getting it to your grocer’s shelf. 

The supply chain that brings fresh produce, meat, dairy and other perishables from suppliers to your refrigerator is a complex process.  As the quality of these products degrades over time, it is vital that they are handled, stored and delivered accurately and precisely.  With temperature being the essential element in delaying the chemical decay of these products, turning your supply chain into a streamlined “cold chain” is imperative.

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Opportunities and Challenges in Footwear Fulfillment

Logistics operations, like many other things, are constantly evolving.  This is especially true for the footwear industry.  As technology creates new opportunities for consumers and new efficiencies for companies, it can also introduce new challenges. 

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The Right E-Commerce Strategy for Cosmetic Products

There comes a time in history when grasping the reins of a new “trend” is a must.  Imagine being the last person in town to jump on the automobile bandwagon.  Where would you tie up your horse?  Once the light bulb caught on, how long would you keep carrying your kerosene lamp around the house?  These of course are old, yet revolutionary, advancements that have made life much more convenient and spurred on countless other developments.  However, in the not-too-distant past, e-commerce was an element that the health and beauty sector tried to keep at bay.  Eventually though, it could not be ignored.  What was shortly ago seen as an industry that required physical access to smell, sample and touch, e-commerce has become the fastest growing segment of the cosmetics industry.

A study by L2 Think Tank shows that e-commerce sales for beauty products grew by nearly 30% in 2013.  This outpaced only a 6% in-store growth.  As this new opportunity continues to show  great potential, it’s important for health and beauty companies to embrace and implement an e-commerce strategy as a competitive differentiator.

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3 E-Commerce Tips for Apparel

You can hear the groans now.  Time to go to the mall.  The kids need new shoes for school, you are due for a new suit and you have a laundry list of other things to freshen up in your closet.  After 10 minutes in traffic you are already starting to question your judgment.  After three prime parking spots have been stolen right out from under you, you’re sure this is a terrible idea.  Finally, after navigating a stroller and a dozen shopping bags through mobs of teenagers and crowded food courts, you promise yourself you won’t be returning.  If only there was another way... 

With the emergence of e-commerce as the preferred way to shop for clothing and apparel, there is a convenient alternative to the mall.  On-line shopping is seeing double digit growth year over year, ending 2013 up 16.9%.  More and more people are choosing the comfort and convenience of their laptop, tablet or phone to make purchases.  This makes the apparel sector ripe for disruption.  This disruption is coming in the form of e-retailers.  While this is a growing sector, it is also quite competitive.  Here are three tips that can generate success in your e-commerce apparel operation: 

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5 Ways a WMS Can Improve Your Food and Beverage Company

The time has come to finally clean out the menacing, wooden behemoth that has become your desk.  As you sift and sort through mountains of paper, piles of folders and disorganized heaps of phone chargers, camera batteries and ear buds, you discover something quite valuable and long forgotten.  Tucked away in an envelope, quietly resting is a gift certificate to the best steakhouse in the city.  It somehow got lost in the shuffle, but now this gift from an occasion you can’t quite remember has made its presence known.  While dreaming of the beautiful evening and amazing meal that is in your near future, you peel open the envelope and scan the pertinent information, but one glaring, disheartening fact jumps off the page.  This gift certificate became null and void over three months ago.  If only there was a system that made it possible for you track, manage and monitor the status of such an important asset.  While there are trays and file cabinets for your desk, fortunately there is something more sophisticated for your food and beverage logistics; a warehouse management system, or WMS.

While losing the opportunity for a free steak dinner can be disappointing, there is much more at stake within the food and beverage supply chain.  In addition to health and safety concerns, operational costs and efficiencies must also be balanced in this competitive sector.  Implementing technology to control costs and streamline operations enhances visibility and food safety.  This is a critically important strategy within the warehouse of food service organizations.  To optimize this critical hub, a warehouse management system can be a game-changer..  Here are five ways that leveraging a WMS can improve your food and beverage fulfillment operation.

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Footwear and Apparel Accuracy: The RFID Solution

Finally, five o’ clock has rolled around at the end of a long day.  After gathering your laptop, notes and sunglasses, you are greeted at the front door of your office by a clap of thunder and a torrential downpour.  You see your car about 20 feet away and before you begin to negotiate the puddles and lightning, you pull your key fob from your pocket, unlock the driver’s side door and count your lucky stars you don’t have to fumble with your keys and briefcase trying to fit the key into the door lock as you become inundated with rain.  This is just one of the modern conveniences made possible by radio frequency identification technology, or RFID.  Even though the shoes on your feet are now saturated, thanks to RFID tags your footwear and apparel supply chain doesn’t need to end up underwater.

The challenges posed by today’s hyper competitive landscape in the footwear and apparel sector can be met through a number of ways.  RFID technology makes two of the most crucial possible: lowering costs and increasing visibility.  The fact that this technology offers the opportunity to meet these critical objectives is evident in IDTechEx’s forecast that the apparel RFID market will grow to over $1 billion by 2021.  This is an increase from only $36 million in 2010.  Let’s take a closer look at how RFID tagging can enhance supply chain accuracy through decreasing cost and increasing transparency.

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Footwear Supply Chain Sustainability

Shoes are essential.

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