Products that are fulfilled outside of your warehouse probably get very little mental space devoted to them.
After all, they’re doing what they’re doing and everything seems to be running just fine without your input. As it turns out, your shipments could be less costly and more efficient if your order fulfillment service or 3rd party logistics company (3PL) employs simple services like kitting and increases machine integration with materials handling equipment.
What is Materials Handling?
When you think of a factory floor, you probably imagine a lot of machines doing various jobs, like filling soda bottles, capping them, placing labels and putting them into boxes. Materials handling inside a fulfillment house is very similar. The only real difference is that instead of building a product, a 3PL with materials handling equipment is building orders that contain your merchandise.
Materials handling equipment offers distinct advantages over doing everything the old fashioned way. Here are just a few:
- Machines can help verify orders, choose the right box size and label your packages much faster than a person could do these things alone.
- Humans make mistakes, but unless they’ve been programmed improperly, computers rarely do. When they’re included in the materials handling systems at your 3PL, you can count on extremely high accuracy rates.
- Between the speed and accuracy of materials handling, you can see significant savings on each shipment. Not only are faster shipments generally less costly since less human intervention is required, the increased accuracy means you’ll have fewer returns to have to manage.
How Does Kitting Help My Fulfillment?
Kitting is a process where items that are often shipped together are pre-bundled and placed into the warehouse under a single, new SKU.
Instead of leaving your warehouse team to hunt for two or six different items in different areas, they can quickly grab a single box from a designated spot. This is a great solution for anything from marketing materials to game bundles and even new product launches, especially if a promotional item is included.
The advantages are massive. Not only is it faster to kit these items together ahead of time than to pick them individually when a customer orders them, you can provide better packaging and reduce shipping errors with this simple technique.
Between kitting and materials handling, your distribution warehouse or 3PL can really become a lean, mean, shipping machine. With faster, more accurate orders, your customers will get their products faster and come back for more.