Whether you're just starting out or looking to expand, you've probably already encountered them: retailer handling guides.
These book-length instruction manuals can do more than just p
ut readers to sleep; they can also create a huge time suck when you need to pack and ship orders. And the more retailers you work with, the more handling guides you need to reference and follow during fulfillment.
As you expand from a DIY assembly line in the garage to a full-scale eCommerce brand, you need a way to organize handling and steer clear of retailer chargebacks for late shipments, improper packaging, or missing tags.
The good news is, you don't need to go at it alone. A third-party logistics(3PL) partner can offer reliable support and end-to-end fulfillment services to help you stay on track and avoid a massive internal headache.
In this post, we'll share five ways your third-party logistics partner can support special handling requirements with proven strategies designed to help you keep up with ever-growing demand.
Every retailer's handling guide includes a long list of rules and regulations. Failure to adhere to each can negatively affect your scorecard or even lead to chargebacks.
While certain guidelines apply to nearly every retailer in the business, each brand has its own nuances. – like receiving dates and cartonization rules – so every guide should be documented and referenced regularly. This process requires significant time and effort, especially if you need to integrate multiple new retailers into your fulfillment process simultaneously.
A third-party logistics partner can take a significant burden off your teams by reading each handling manual and recording vital data. To do this, your 3PL will first create a unique source code for each retailer. Then, they'll store handling guides and any other relevant documentation in a digital data library organized by source code for easy reference.
This also helps streamline data management over time and as you scale. Your 3PL can quickly update or add guides when a particular brand releases new handling requirements, or you add ten more retailers to your fulfillment pipeline.
While critical for success, retailer handling guides aren't the only resource your 3PL will use to streamline handling and fulfillment. Once manuals are processed, your logistics partner will use them to create specialized assembly guides for each product type based on retailer specifications and industry best practices.
These guides turn gritty details into a transparent step-by-step assembly process. They guide teams through each phase of fulfillment – with instructions, receiving schedules, which packaging to use, cartonization specifications, pallet sizes, and more. These guides give employees specific instructions for each requirement on the assembly floor.
Assembly guides also help you save costs when it counts. Your partner will coordinate with vendors to get ahead of larger orders, schedule on-time product deliveries, and adjust staffing to account for lulls in demand throughout the month.
Now that your third-party logistics partner has outlined each step in the assembly process, it's time to start assembling, packing, and shipping out orders accurately and efficiently.
Your 3PL can designate entire assembly lines and product teams to special handling to prevent mix-ups and shipments with the wrong tags or warning labels. This comprehensive approach ensures each item goes through the proper handling process and keeps stragglers from falling through the cracks.
Your retailers will thank you for following handling requirements in each shipment, and you'll enjoy peace of mind knowing every product headed to your top retailer will be tagged, priced, and shipped in the proper packaging.
Your third-party logistics partner can do more than just help you keep up with your current shipments. They can also put highly efficient processes in place to help you get ahead of large orders or prepare for unexpected surges in demand.
Instead of completing special handling order-per-order, many partners bulk handle popular items in large batches to improve warehouse efficiency and promote consistency across shipments. Bulk handling is also essential for rapid growth and scaling efforts. If your retail partner doubles their monthly order or you add new sources to your inner circle, your 3PL will already have a plan in place to account for new orders without slowing down fulfillment.
Outsourcing your order handling and fulfillment can also help you improve inventory management and see how well your current sourcing strategy lines up with demand. Your 3PL creates in-depth reports to track which products move through fulfillment quickly and which ones gather dust on the shelves, giving you the insights you need to adjust your supply orders to ensure you're making the most of your budget.
Through robust documentation, streamlined processing, and a careful eye for detail, your third-party logistics partner can help improve your bottom line and sustain positive partnerships with each of your retailers.
The best part about partnering with a 3PL? They have the resources and expertise you need to scale and expand without compromising on quality. As you tackle special handling together, the impact of your 3PL's performance will improve sentiment with retailers – and news of a successful partnership spreads fast.
The happier your current retailers are with your handling process, the more likely they'll be to extend your contract to more locations or place larger routine orders. Additionally, you'll attract new retail partners to your business. And rest assured, your 3PL will be able to add new sources to existing systems quickly and easily, which puts your business on a fast track to successful growth.
At Materialogic, we're experts in the art of fulfillment, even when it comes to balancing detailed handling requirements, tight schedules, and unpredictable product demand. We don't just pick, pack, and ship on-demand. We take the time to understand your products, market, and partner retailers to ensure we meet requirements and improve fulfillment across the board.
Plug our systems into your growing business to simplify complex processes and get time back in your busy day with the peace of mind you need to deliver accurate, consistent products to retailers and your end-customers.
Ready to grow your business with a third-party logistics partner? Check out our Complete Guide To Selecting A 3PL Partner to find your perfect fit.