5 Reasons You Need to Forecast for Effective Supply Chain Management

5 Reasons You Need to Forecast for Effective Supply Chain Management

While there may be a never-ending list of unknowns – snowstorms, supply shortages, skyrocketing oil prices – that you can’t prepare your business for, taking some time to dial in your supply chain forecasting is essential to the overall health and growth of your business.

If you don’t keep an eye on whether your supply is managed effectively, you could be losing serious money, which means your business will grow more slowly than you’d like.

Here are 5 reasons you need to forecast for effective supply chain management:

 

Optimize Your Inventory

You know that having too low a stock on a hot item can be a death knell for sales. And having too much of something that’s not selling eats up money with storage, transportation, and other costs. By looking carefully at your sales and your supply chain and then predicting when you’ll need how much of a product, you’re saving your business money in overstocking and maintaining sales that would be lost to understocking.

 

Customer Satisfaction

Having happy customers is always the goal of any business, right? Most customers are pretty forgiving, and understand if something’s going to be out of stock for a short time. However, with effective supply chain management through forecasting, you can prevent many of these product shortages, giving you happier customers.

 

Improve Resource Scheduling

With increased demand comes an increased need for all those resources necessary to getting products to customers – staff, warehouse space, and transportation, for example. If you can predict when you will need more people and resources to meet customer demands, you will decrease interruptions in the shipping process and get products to your customers in a timely manner. On the flip side, if you can forecast a seasonal dip in ordering, you can adjust your staffing needs accordingly to save money.

 

Decrease Costs

It’s expensive to keep a stash of extra products, even a small one, on hand. It can also be dangerous, depending on where and how you store them. By forecasting your supply needs, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary expenditures on stocking and warehousing too many products. This improves your bottom line and preserves extra money for those times when you do see demand tick up and need more stock.

 

Enhance Transportation Logistics

Combining shipments or transportation methods to save money is all well and good, but with forecasting you can improve the product transport process even farther. If you have a handle on when you’ll see increased demand for certain products, you can create a full transportation strategy to help eliminate redundancies and decrease costs.

 

Experienced Supply Chain Management Support in Maryland

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we want to see your business succeed. Whether you need warehousing and shipping support, or you need someone to handle order receipt and returns processing, we can create a custom logistics solution to meet your needs. Contact us today to discuss your unique needs so your business can thrive!

5 Ways to Improve Your Retail Returns Process

Employee scanning retail tag

 

You can do everything in your power to keep your business’s return rate low – Make sure you have clear product descriptions and size charts on your website, triple-check all orders as they come in, keep immaculate records of where in your storage space each product is located – but some percentage of your total sales will always come back in returns or exchanges.

Although some amount of returns are unavoidable, they don’t always have to be a hassle for you or your customers. Here are 5 things you can do to improve your retail returns process:

Clearly Communicate Your Returns & Exchanges Policy – Often

The first step to a better returns process is one that is communicated clearly and often. State how you accept returns, the period of time after purchase for returns, and what your customer should do with an item that needs to be returned or exchanged in plain language. Put this statement on all your sales material – website, print catalog, and even packing slips.

Clearly communicating and giving easy access to the returns and exchange policy will limit the number of phone calls and emails you get with these simple questions, and gives you an easy thing to point to when someone tries to return, say, a sweater that has clearly been worn and washed.

Make Returns Easy

Part of what frustrates customers is a complicated returns process. If they have to call to let you know they want to return an item, then find a way to pack it up, go to the post office to ship the item back to you … Your customers will end up annoyed and wary of shopping with you again.

Providing a pre-printed shipping label, whether it’s plain paper or on sticky-backed paper, allows your customers to prepare their returns to be shipped back quickly and easily, so they don’t have to track down a printer for a new shipping label. Offering free return shipping, as well as using a drop-shipping or call-for-pickup service such as those available through FedEx and UPS, gives your customers the ability to make exchanges or returns without having to go out of their way. This will lead to happier customers and a higher likelihood they’ll make repeat purchases.

Quickly Process Returns

Your customer has already been inconvenienced by the return or exchange process, so you shouldn’t make her wait weeks for her refund or exchanged item.

Make processing returns and exchanges the priority in your warehouse. Get them moved through your building as fast as, if not faster than, initial purchases. Even if your customers have some lingering unhappiness from the initial purchase process, a speedy refund or a quickly received exchanged item will help soothe those frustrations.

Track Everything to Find Patterns

One bundled item missing a piece can be chalked up to an easy mistake. But 10 of the same bundled items missing pieces in a week? Not so much a blip as a pattern.

When customers return or exchange items, keep records of their reasons for returns. If you see the same or similar reasoning on certain items, you may have a quality control issue that you need to take care of. Keeping great records will help you head off major problems before they start, which could cost you tons of time and money in returns and exchanges.

Outsource Your Returns Processing – & Maybe Your Logistics!

If you’re a small business with few or no employees, handling all customer service, order processing, and returns processing can be burdensome. It’s easy, when you’re juggling a lot, to make mistakes.

By hiring a logistics company to process your returns, or even to handle all your order processing, picking and packing, and shipping duties, you’ll have a larger pool of people to take care of those busy seasons, leading to fewer mistakes. And, by outsourcing, you can actually save money in warehousing costs, labor costs, and more!

 

Efficient Returns Processing on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we pride ourselves on designing custom solutions for our clients. Whether you just need our help handling your returns and exchanges processing, or you want us to do it all, we’ve got the staff and the infrastructure to help you grow your business. Contact us today for a customized quote!

3 Tips for Improving Supply Chain Management

3 Tips for Improving Supply Chain Management- Cannon Hill Logistics

 

Your business’s supply chain is an essential part of the way you deliver goods to your customers. Whether you’re a company that puts together varying parts to make a whole product, or you market and sell a finished product to customers, keeping tight control over your supply chain is key to a successful business.

If you’re looking to tighten up the way your business manages its supply chain, here are 3 tips you can use to improve:

Manage Your Inventory

Keeping warehousing costs low is important to your overall bottom line. If you keep on hand only enough parts for two days’ worth of assembly, what happens when there’s a snowstorm near your supplier and trucks are delayed for three days? Or what about when the computer system goes down at the facility you depend on for all of your parts?

Problems with inventory management can prove costly on all fronts. If you have too many parts on-hand, you’re overspending on warehousing and storage costs. But if you have too few and there’s an issue with getting more, you’re facing mounting bills as production is delayed and you’re still paying your employees.

The same goes if you are the one distributing goods directly to customers: Having a very low margin of shippable product on hand could be problematic in cases of unexpected demand or supply chain disruption. And too much means you’re paying more than you need to for storage.

Getting your inventory needs under control is one of the best ways to improve your supply chain management, as it ensures you will have enough – but not too much – product on hand at any time.

Modernize Supply Chain Organization

Thinking of your supply chain in segments doesn’t work anymore. Thanks to modern software and more sophisticated data collection and analysis tools, it’s easier than ever to keep track of all pieces of the supply chain, end to end.

Analyzing your supply chain holistically instead of just in pieces helps you more easily determine what’s working and what isn’t, and where you’re losing money, to improve overall operations and profitability. By thinking of your entire supply chain organization as a whole, you can develop initiatives – such as with marketing and procurement, for example – that will benefit your whole supply chain and increase your business.

Set Benchmarks for Your Team

Getting everyone on your team involved is crucial to improving overall supply chain management. Each person has a unique part to play in the health and success of your company, and setting goals can help everyone get on the same page.

Go beyond the traditional metrics of capital, service, and cost and determine some aggressive key performance indicators (KPIs) that are necessary to helping your supply chain improve. Sit down with your executive team and really brainstorm what metrics matter to your business. Don’t just include something because you think it “should be” measured; forcing KPIs that don’t matter to your business goals are just going to frustrate everyone and take away from the opportunity to work toward effective goals.

No matter what you choose to do, improving your business’s supply chain management is an important factor in your overall success. Getting serious about measuring the right things and analyzing data that matters to your business is going to help your business grow and thrive for years to come.

 

Experienced Warehouse & Inventory Management on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we firmly believe in helping every business succeed to its fullest potential. That’s why we offer customizable, scaleable warehousing and logistics solutions to businesses of all sizes. Whether you need customer service support, picking and packing, procurement and replenishment, or warehousing services, the experienced team at Cannon Hill Logistics can help. Call today to discuss your needs!

Commercial Warehousing: Why You Should Outsource to a 3PL

commercial warehousing maryland

As your business has grown, so has the amount of product you’ve had to keep on-hand to fulfill customer demand. Because of this growth, you’re faced with a decision: handle the warehousing yourself, or outsource it to a third-party logistics company?

Though you may think using a 3PL may seem like overkill for your small business, there are many benefits to partnering with a quality warehousing and logistics company instead of handling everything yourself.

Cost

While it may not seem like it on the surface, working with a 3PL could actually save you money over handling all your warehousing yourself.

If you Do It Yourself, you have to find rental space to store your products. It’s unlikely you’ll find a space just perfect for your needs – Many affordable spaces will be too small and many spaces with enough room for you will cost beyond your budget. Additionally, rental warehouse space may not come with shelving and equipment, which you’ll need to make proper use of the space. These costs can easily add up to outpace your monthly earnings!

By using a 3PL, you’re making use of currently unused space in a building already rented by someone else. You don’t directly have to hunt for or rent the space, and all the other companies that utilize your chosen 3PL help split the cost of the rent and other equipment. With this option, you’ll get the amount of space you need at a much lower price.

Scaleable

If you’re choosing warehouse space on your own, you’re either looking for space that fits your business right now, with the risk that you could outgrow the space as your business increases, or you’re looking for a space to grow into. Either one of these choices could mean wasted time, overspending, and headaches for you.

With a 3PL, you have warehouse space that scales as your business grows. If you only need a little bit of space now, that’s fine! You just pay for the space you need and, if you need more down the road, the 3PL has the infrastructure in place to expand the amount of space your products take up.

Comprehensive Solutions

Renting your own warehouse space means you are likely also responsible for all other aspects of your product distribution chain: labeling, picking, packing, shipping, and processing returns. While this may have worked when your business was smaller, it now means you have more to do and may need to hire help. That can be expensive and frustrating, as finding dependable people to support your business isn’t always easy.

By using a 3PL, you have access to all these services under one roof, and you never have to worry about doing the hiring! From order processing to phone answering, picking and packing to processing returns, your 3PL can offer you everything you need to get your products from the warehouse and into your customers’ hands without you ever having to lay hands on anything. This frees you up to develop new products, network, and hone your marketing strategy to help your business continue to grow and thrive.

Experienced Warehousing Services in Maryland

Since 1984, Cannon Hill Logistics has offered dependable, affordable warehousing, distribution, and logistics services to businesses throughout the world. We pride ourselves on designing custom solutions to meet the unique needs of each of our client partners. Our location near the busy Port of Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport means we can get your products to your customers with minimal shipping time. Call today for your quote to help your business succeed!

Client Spotlight: Salacious Drinks

logistics company maryland

Cannon Hill Logistics is thrilled to welcome one of our newest clients – Salacious Drinks!

Founded in July 2016, Salacious Drinks grew out of a desire for its founders to find better-tasting, better-quality bottled water and share their finds with the world. From a conversation about how a bottle of store-brand bottled water wasn’t “good water” came a business idea.

Salacious Drinks offers select, premium, and luxury bottled waters from around the world for delivery in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Their waters can be purchased individually, in mix-and-match 6-packs, or by the case to suit your needs and taste.

Whether you like still, mineral, sparkling, flavored, or coconut water, you’ll find something new and different to love from Salacious Drinks!

We at Cannon Hill Logistics are excited to welcome Salacious Drinks to our family of clients, and to help them further their mission of providing quality water from around the world, delivered to your door.

Experienced Warehousing & Logistics on the East Coast

For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has provided exceptional, affordable warehousing, shipping, and logistics solutions to businesses of all sizes. We work hard to make sure your time is freed up for the important work of running and growing your business, so we take care of the day-to-day details. Contact us today!

3 Ways a 3PL Can Make Your Subscription Box Service More Profitable

3 Ways a 3PL Can Make Your Subscription Box Service More Profitable

Whether you sell subscriptions to bath products, dog toys, or light-up socks, managing a subscription box service takes work. If you’re a small operation, you likely put the boxes together yourself, enlisting friends or employees to help package everything for your loyal customers.

But your business has been growing (which is great!) and you’re having difficulty keeping up with the increased demand. You may wonder if the cost of working with a third-party logistics company is worth it in the long run, and if hiring out storage, packaging, and shipping to someone else may cause more headaches.

Here are 3 great ways a 3PL can make your subscription box more profitable, not less:

You Don’t Have to Worry about Receiving & Storage

The way things are now, you or someone you authorize has to be available to receive any shipments of the individual products that make up your subscription box, and each shipment must be checked for accuracy. This can take hours out of your day, especially as the number of products you receive increases. And once the products are in your hands, you have to find a way to store them before you prepare the individual subscription boxes, meaning either your living or office space is crammed full of boxes or you have to pay for separate storage space.

When you use a 3PL company, you don’t have to worry about any of those tasks. The staff of the 3PL receives all your individual products, checking each shipment to be sure what was ordered is exactly what was received. The 3PL then deals directly with the manufacturer or distributor in case of a problem, only getting you involved if absolutely necessary. After all shipments have been received, your 3PL stores them in dedicated warehouse space, using sophisticated software to ensure that your products are always easy to find on the shelves.

Your Staffing Costs Decrease

When you’re handling everything on your own, all staffing costs come out of your profits. That means if you have a month where sales increase and you need to increase staff to meet demand, the cost of those extra people is coming out of your overall profits. And, any training, insurance, and other benefit costs paid to employees who pack boxes are paid directly by you, making for complicated bookkeeping.

In hiring a 3PL, those warehousing, packing, and shipping staff costs are handled by the 3PL and built into your overall contract cost. You’re sharing workers with multiple other companies, so the cost of hiring an individual employee is much less than if you were hiring directly. Additionally, you don’t have to worry if someone calls in sick or quits; we handle all the staffing changes and you never know the difference.

Your Service Can Expand to Serve More Customers

As your subscription box service gains more customers, that means increased storage costs, increased time to package and ship, and increased staffing needs. When handling all these issues on your own, it can be difficult to scale as quickly as demand requires. That leaves you and your staff working long hours, cutting into your profits and causing burnout.

Because a 3PL has a well-established infrastructure – warehouse space, staff, and equipment – it is far easier for your business to grow right when you need it to. If you need more warehouse space one month, your 3PL just adapts to meet this need. And if you need more people to help pack and ship the boxes to your customers, the logistics company shifts around its employees as necessary to get your products out to customers on time.

Affordable Subscription Box Management Solutions on the East Coast

Since 1984, Cannon Hill Logistics has provided affordable, customizable third-party logistics solutions to a variety of businesses from our facility on the East Coast. Whether you need someone to receive and store your products, pack and ship your subscription boxes, or handle customer orders and inquiries, our dedicated, friendly team can build a solution for you. Contact us today to become a partner in your business growth!

Client Spotlight: Snorf Industries

Snorf Industries and Cannon Hill Logistics

We are thrilled to welcome Snorf Industries to the Cannon Hill Logistics family!

Founded in 2013, Snorf Industries makes hats, hoodies, and pullovers to keep dogs – specifically Boston terriers, French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and pugs – warm and dry in cold weather. Of specific concern were the dogs’ ears, and Snorf’s BatHat(TM) design keeps the tips of dogs’ ears warm while allowing the ears to remain upright.

In 2015, Snorf Industries raised 125% of its Kickstarter fundraising goal, and was named a Staff Pick by Kickstarter.

Snorf’s products are manufactured in New Hampshire – right here on the East Coast! – and use mostly American-made fleece fabrics. Check out everything they have in stock in their online store.

Not only does Snorf make products that keep dogs warm and cozy, they also give 5% of their net profits to dog rescue charities.

At Cannon Hill, we handle online order processing for Snorf Industries, so we get to send those adorable fleece hoodies out to pups everywhere. We’re happy to support another East Coast-based business!

Individual Logistics Services on the East Coast

Since 1984, Cannon Hill Logistics has provided individually designed logistics solutions for businesses from our conveniently located warehouse on the East Coast. Whether you need help with order processing, kitting services, or full-scale logistics management, we can design an affordable, reliable solution for you. Contact us today to discuss your needs!

 

Product Distribution Channels: A Complete Guide

Product Distribution Channels: A Complete Guide

You walk into your local grocery store and trust that your favorite brand of coffee will be right there on the shelf, ready for you to take home for your daily caffeine fix. But have you ever stopped to consider the route that coffee takes to get from the field to the store shelf?

From direct to indirect channels, intensive to exclusive distribution, here’s everything you need to know about product distribution channels:

First, What Is Product Distribution?

At its most basic, product distribution is the path that products take from manufacturer to consumer. Product distribution involves transportation, packaging, and delivery. Effective, efficient product distribution is essential to the financial health of all businesses along the chain – manufacturers, distributors, agents, and retailers.

There are two basic types of product distribution channels: direct and indirect.

Direct distribution channels take products directly from the manufacturer to the consumer. An easy example of a direct distributor is handmade goods website Etsy. A consumer purchases a product directly from the person who creates it, and the creator sends the product directly to the consumer.

Indirect distribution means there is at least one intermediary between manufacturer and consumer. For example, manufacturers who sell their products through Amazon send the products to Amazon’s warehouse. Consumers then purchase the product from Amazon, and the product is sent from Amazon’s warehouse to the consumer.

The Four Levels of Distribution Channels

There are four different levels of distribution channels, with each adding a person or business between the manufacturer and consumer.

Level 0 channels have product moving from the manufacturer directly to the consumer.

Level 1 channels have one intermediary between the manufacturer and consumer, often a retailer who buys from the manufacturer and sells to the consumer.

Level 2 channels insert two intermediaries between manufacturer and consumer, such as a wholesaler who buys from the manufacturer and sells to a retailer. The retailer then sells to the consumer.

Level 3 channels include three intermediaries, usually an agent working on behalf of a company and dealing with the wholesalers.

Fulfillment centers like Cannon Hill Logistics typically do not add another level to the distribution chain. Rather, they work to improve costs and efficiency for a client who already has a role in the distribution channel.

The Three Types of Distribution

Within the levels of distribution, there are three main types of distribution.

Intensive distribution focuses purely on saturating the market as much as possible. There is no cap on the number of retailers or wholesalers; manufacturers want their products on as many shelves as they can manage. Coke and Pepsi, for example, focus on getting in front of as many consumers as possible.

Selective distribution targets specific markets, capping the number of distribution hubs in any given area. An example of this would be Walmart deciding to only carry a particular product in five locations in a geographic area, creating buzz and a feeling of demand for consumers.

Exclusive distribution limits availability to a few locations worldwide. The scarcity creates a feeling of rarity and prestige around the brand. Examples of exclusive distribution include high-end automotive companies such as Ferrari and Bugatti.

Understanding product distribution channels can help you better select your preferred route to the consumer, and can help you maximize your business’s profitability.

Individualized Distribution Solutions in Maryland

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we offer logistics solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our location near the Port of Baltimore in Maryland allows us to reach more than half the United States population by ground shipping within three days. Contact us to learn how we can help you grow your business.

5 Reasons to Use a Quality Inventory Management System

5 Reasons to Use a Quality Inventory Management System

You work hard to make sure your products are high-quality and meet your customers’ expectations. An important part of the sales process is getting the products from your warehouse shelves to people’s front doors. If you are using a sub-par or outdated inventory management system, you could be in for more hiccups and headaches than you’d like. Here are 5 reasons to use a quality inventory management system (IMS):

Customers See Only What’s in Stock

Have you ever ordered something online, only to get the dreaded email a few days later that the item is out of stock and the store can’t fulfill your request? Though sometimes stock shortages are unavoidable, especially if an item sees a sudden spike in demand, a better inventory management system can alleviate the problem. A modern, powerful IMS keeps track of how many of an individual item is in stock, automatically deducting from the total every time a purchase is made. Your customer also sees this number when viewing your website, and will be prevented from ordering an out-of-stock item. Having a modern IMS will mean less hassle for your customers, which likely will lead to repeat orders.

Decrease Returns

The best inventory management systems store a wealth of information, including where in the warehouse items are shelved. This helps keep your stock organized and makes sure things get shipped correctly. And when the correct items are shipped to the correct customers, the amount of returned items decreases. If you rely on a less sophisticated IMS, it is much easier for items to be incorrectly shelved in the warehouse, leading to incorrect shipping, increased returns, and dissatisfied customers.

Assists with Speedy Shipping

If the warehouse location of each product is stored accurately in the IMS, things are much easier to find when an order is placed. This means your warehouse team – or your third-party logistics company – can quickly process, pack, and ship products to your customers. Improved order processing allows your products to reach your customers faster, boosting their satisfaction and improving your reputation as a business.

Saves You Money

Improperly managed inventory can lead to a whole host of pricey problems – broken or damaged stock that must be replaced, overstocking, frequent returns, and need for more warehousing space, to name a few. With a robust IMS, you can stay on top of how much of each product you have in your warehouse, buying only what you need to keep business rolling. And the more money you save on stocking and warehousing costs, the more money you have to re-invest and grow your business.

Better Business Forecasting

Consistently having an idea of how much product you have in stock and being able to see spikes and dips in ordering allows you to more accurately predict how much product you will need at a given time. If your IMS data shows that you sell a lot of Product A in June and July, for example, you can begin to stock up in May but taper off ordering once August hits. You also will be able to more effectively predict hiring needs, adjust product pricing, and expand into new product lines into the future.

Affordable Inventory Management Solutions for All Business Sizes

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we utilize the latest in inventory management systems, allowing us to properly support our clients’ businesses and growth goals. We take pride in designing customized solutions for businesses of all sizes. Contact us today to see how our conveniently located East Coast warehouse can build your business.

5 Key Tips for Saving on Warehouse Energy Costs

maryland distribution warehouse

Warehouses use large amounts of energy, whether it be in heating and cooling the large space or running the machinery necessary to move stock around. Chances are that energy costs are your second largest business expense, just behind personnel costs. Here are 5 key tips that can help you save on energy costs in your warehouse:

Install Skylights

The sun is the biggest free power resource, and letting the sunlight in during the day can help dramatically cut down on your need to run overhead lights. Though the initial cost output is greater, especially since you’re cutting into the roof of your building, the total savings over time will make up for the expense. Of course, this is only a feasible option if you own your building.

Turn Off Machines Not in Use

Have you ever been in your warehouse and seen the conveyor belt running with no one using it? Constantly running an unused machine during business hours is a serious waste of energy and money, which eats into your profits and your business’s carbon footprint. Reminding your employees to turn off machines and equipment when they’re not in use can save you significant money over time.

Check Your HVAC System

Commercial HVAC systems can eat up serious power and money. Many of them, especially in warehouses, are aging, which means they aren’t running as efficiently as they could be. Bringing an HVAC professional in to check and clean your system, and make any recommendations for maintenance and repair, can help keep your overall heating and cooling costs low and reduce the likelihood you will experience a major system failure.

Consider Flexible Scheduling

Temperatures inside a warehouse, like any other building, fluctuate based on the time of day. In summer, indoor temperatures are cooler earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. In winter, it’s warmest mid-day. If your business flow allows, consider creating summer and winter hours that allow your employees to work early and/or late in summer to avoid having to run the air conditioning for long periods of time in the heat of the day. In winter, adjust your hours to take advantage of the warmer daytime hours so your heat use will be lower.

Outsource Your Warehousing

Of course, the best way to save on warehouse energy costs is to outsource your warehousing to a third-party logistics (3PL) company. Because you no longer have to bear the costs of warehousing – less space to heat and cool, fewer breakroom appliances to power, and less machinery to operate – your business’s overall energy consumption costs will go down. The cost of energy consumption is passed on to the 3PL, which then spreads the costs among the fees charged to clients. Because many businesses are participating in paying for energy costs, the amount you as one business owner will pay is lower.

Logistics Solutions for Businesses of All Sizes

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we pride ourselves on finding flexible solutions for all our customers – large and small. We are located near the busy Port of Baltimore, and your product can reach more than half the population of the United States within three business days. Contact us to learn more about our warehousing, shipping, and logistics solutions.