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Pick, Pack and Ship Services Help Publishers Reduce Fulfillment Costs

Due to the nature of the publishing industry, publishers have multiple layers of costs associated with fulfillment (the process of picking, packing and shipping books). In its simplest form, fulfillment is the act of getting books out the warehouse door and delivered to customers in a fast, efficient and economical manner. Any additional costs incurred in fulfillment means a reduced bottom line profit for the publishing house.

Order Fulfillment – More than Picking, Packing & Shipping

Some may think picking, packing and shipping orders is easy. But don’t be fooled, it’s order volume that adds complexity. If not handled properly, this 3-step process is filled with opportunities for missteps and costly overruns. Anyone familiar with warehousing knows the difficult part is in the execution – order fulfillment that is cost effective, impeccably accurate and done with speed.

Order fulfillment involves a multitude of steps:

  • It Begins with Warehouse Organization. In a warehouse, walking is one of the greatest time wasters. A well-run fulfillment center takes great care in organizing and shelving items in perfect order. Items must be categorized into A, B, C, and D movers with the A’s being the most accessible items and within arms reach. All of this is done to ensure the warehouse layout provides an environment where order fulfillment remains accurate, quick and cost-effective.
  • Now that the warehouse is ready, it’s time to Receive Orders. The first step in receiving orders is quality control. Each order must be double checked to ensure the information is transmitted correctly. The clients address (including zip code) and product SKU’s must be correct and the proper shipping method must be selected. As the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” The order received must contain the correct information.
  • Replenishment of the picking shelves. Before orders are dropped to the warehouse floor for fulfillment, you must check to ensure there is ample stock to fulfill the order. Our computer system tallies the total requirement for each item and creates a list for replenishment prior to beginning the pick process.
  • In an RF (radio frequency) environment, picking accuracy is increased to 99%.  The system works by telling the picker where to go to select the item(s). When the picker arrives, they scan the location bar code and the system tells them if they are in the right spot. If they are, they are allowed to pick the item and it is scanned for verification.
  • Picking to carton or tote? At Ware-Pak we prefer pick to carton. Our system can look at each order and specify the carton size and we save double handling by picking directly to carton.
  • Printing a Custom Packing List. To help our clients with branding, our packing list includes our clients name, company information and logo. Each packing list details the actual order information for the product being shipped.
  • Proper Packing Materials protect the items. After the order is complete, recycled packing paper is added to protect the product.
  • Carrier Selection. Many clients rely on the fulfillment house to select the carrier. Remember, there are other factors that enter the equation besides cost. Each carrier has strengths and weaknesses, and there’s always a trade-off between service and cost. A best in class fulfillment house knows which carrier services each destination with the least amount of damage and quickest transit time. Each retail outlet has its own unique set of carrier requirements and the carrier selected must meet those requirements or face charge backs. When price is the determining factor, you must know which carrier rates are the lowest between UPS, FedEx, USPS, Media Mail, Mail Innovations, or Smart Post. The correct answer depends upon the weight, size and destination of the order. International shipments are another matter and need an entire blog of their own.
  • Printing Shipping Labels. Each carrier has strict printing requirements and any minor mistake can result in the package not arriving to the customer or a lost or returned shipment. Also, packages sent by courier without “perfect addresses” will incur hefty charge backs from the carrier at the time of delivery. For USPS, we utilize an online system that verifies the physical address prior to purchasing postage.
  • Ensuring all Courier/Freight Cutoff Times are Met. This is necessary so the shipment is fulfilled on time. For example, in Ware-Pak’s facility, USPS picks up at 4:00pm, FedEx at 4:45pm and UPS 1st ground at 5pm, Air at 6:30pm and last ground at 10:30pm. When dealing with several thousand orders, it requires a concentrated effort to ensure all orders for each service are ready by the specific cut off time.

The steps above are a simple explanation of what happens in the warehouse. To complete this process, we have documented 198 steps. When you think about the complexity of order fulfillment, you can easily see how and why there is room for errors to occur if the process is not handled properly.

Should You Outsource Order Fulfillment Services?

As a publisher, you know the industry is changing rapidly. E-books are putting pressure on printed books and shifting your warehousing needs. Does it really make sense for your organization to continue to invest capital and human resources in maintaining a warehouse for fulfillment services? It may be time for you organization to outsource these services with an expert in the warehousing industry.

In today’s competitive environment, efficiency through specialization helps companies achieve a competitive advantage. As a publisher, your organization needs to focus on the staying relevant in a changing industry, rather than focused on warehousing and inventory management.

Ware-Pak provides publishers with a clear alternative for their warehousing needs and a proven track record over the last 10 years of cost effective services with speed (90% of order shipped same day as received) and accuracy (99.9% accurate). Learn more today.

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Ware-Pak, LLC
2427 Bond Street
University Park, IL 60484
phone (708) 534-2600
Web: www.ware-pak.com