11 Common Warehousing Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

For every warehouse that exists there’s likely a method for managing the people and things inside it. But just because every warehouse is a little different doesn’t mean there aren’t some general guiding principles that should be adhered to.

To help you stay on top of your warehouse management and avoid any excessive, unnecessary supply chain costs, here are 11 common warehousing mistakes and how to avoid them:

Holding Excess Inventory

One of the most common mistakes across the industry is holding onto too much inventory “just in case.”

Whether you’re preparing for a big seasonal jump or you just haven’t yet mastered the fine balance between too much and not enough inventory, having too much inventory can lead to exorbitant extra costs that your business may not be able to absorb.

Having too much extra means you need to store more, increasing your storage needs and costs. It also leads to an increased chance of inventory loss through damage or, for perishable goods, spoilage. 

To prevent your warehouse from holding onto too much extra inventory, it’s essential to thoroughly track your inventory levels and customer demand over time, keeping your inventory levels as low as possible without completely running out of individual products.

Using Paper

Technology has made the warehouse management industry much more efficient, but there are still some warehouses clinging to the old ways of doing things.

Utilizing paper processes for everything increases the risk of mistakes and missing paperwork. It also requires more man hours to manage all the paperwork and materials, causing your costs to balloon.

By switching even portions of your operations over to digital processes, you’ll increase your efficiency and accuracy, leading to an overall decrease in costs over time.

Not Optimizing Picking Paths

Just like a library, a well-organized and optimized warehouse floor makes it much faster and easier to find the products necessary when it comes time to pick an order.

Failing to optimize picking paths by not grouping items that are commonly ordered together in the same area, or just putting the dispatch area too far away from your storage, causes your manpower costs to skyrocket.

The slower your team is able to pick items and fulfill orders, the higher your picking costs go and the more you have to charge for products to make up the increase. By carefully planning your picking routes – with help from a warehouse optimization specialist, if necessary – you can increase your profit margins and increase your team’s efficiency.

Neglecting Goods-in Processes

In many warehouses, all the focus is placed upon increasing the efficiency and decreasing the costs of the process between customer order and shipping out the door, with little to no focus on the receiving end of the warehousing process.

Not paying attention to how your warehouse receives goods and manages stock until it is placed on shelves can lead to increased damage and waste, as well as continued inefficient picking paths.

If possible, it’s best to designate specific team members for goods-in tasks, with some trained extra hands put on backup for especially busy times. This will ensure that your goods-in team knows how to properly handle the receiving process, making everything easier and more efficient for your goods-out team.

Overlapping Shipping & Receiving Areas

When space is at a premium, it can seem a luxury to designate separate areas for shipping out orders and receiving goods.

However, not separating these areas at least in some way can lead to inefficiencies and mistakes that cost money.

On an especially busy day, for example, your team may accidentally put a set of just-received products right back out onto a truck for shipping, or they may place a picked and packed order back on the shelves. Either of these mistakes can lead to an incredible amount of delay and waste, and decrease overall customer satisfaction.

At minimum, designate opposite areas of your warehouse for goods to be shipped and those just received so that there’s little chance of cross-over. However, if at all possible, consider placing shipping and receiving in completely different bays of your warehouse so there’s little chance for confusion.

Sub-par Health & Safety Management

Just because your warehouse is clean and tidy doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe. You could have shelves that are unstable and overloaded, waiting to tip at any moment, or your equipment could be dangerous.

Having strict health and safety policies and procedures, as well as scheduling routine health and safety checks, is essential to keeping your workers safe and decreasing accidents.

And, when accidents and near-misses do happen, it’s important to thoroughly investigate and analyze what happened, making any changes necessary to improve safety across the warehouse.

Inattention to Housekeeping

If your warehouse has messy loading docks, aisles littered with shrink-wrap and garbage, and overfilled pallets, it’s time to pay a little more attention to housekeeping.

Too much mess and clutter is not only dangerous, it can cause increased costs as your employees have to navigate the mess to continue doing their jobs. Or, if things are really bad, you have to stop all work just to clean things up to an acceptable level.

Rather than letting the clutter accumulate day after day, try designating a portion of the end of each shift to tidying up the warehouse. This keeps the clutter at bay while allowing the following shift to get down to their duties without delay.

Failing to Plan

What works now may not work in the future, especially if your operation grows. But not taking the time and effort to plan ahead for that potential someday can really cost you a lot in the long run.

If you’re not keeping up with the latest changes to the industry, or you’re not evaluating your processes to see where you can minimize inefficiencies, your business will suffer.

Instead, take some time, at minimum, annually to think about where you’d like your warehouse and business to be in the following year, and figure out what you need to do to get yourself there. Schedule quarterly or monthly reviews of your progress toward these goals.

Taking the time to plan for the future allows you to see opportunities and jump on them as they come up, helping you avoid a sudden panic period when you need to adapt and change your business operations.

Measuring the Wrong Things

Measuring data such as average time for order picking or amount of time products spend on your shelves is great, but if you’re not getting the whole picture – from receiving through shipping – you’re not going to notice the inefficiencies and expenses that could be avoided.

Understanding just what metrics are most important to your business operations is the first step toward collecting actionable data in your warehouse.

And once you know what metrics you need to track, it’s a simple matter of putting the processes into place to collect that data and then analyze it. 

If you aren’t sure what type of information you should be collecting about your warehouse operations, consider hiring a warehouse optimization specialist or logistics consultant. Paying someone to spend some time figuring out what you should track and helping you set up your processes may be expensive at first, but it will pay off in the long run.

Ignoring Staff Training

Tight budgets and time constraints can often mean that your staff is sent out on the floor with very little training in safe practices. This can lead to injuries, inefficiencies, and added expenses.

Investing not only in a solid initial training program for all staff, but also ongoing training and development opportunities for your staff can help them become more skilled and invested in the overall success of your business. This can help your warehouse become more profitable and efficient, and decrease accidents and staff turnover.

Carving out time and budget each year to allow your staff opportunities for ongoing development and training will pay your business back tenfold, as it’s far less expensive to invest in training and development for existing employees than it is to constantly have to fill vacant positions.

Technology for Technology’s Sake

Utilizing technology is essential in the modern warehouse, but there is a point where too much technology is a negative.

Spending too much money on the newest, flashiest piece of technology a salesperson pitches to you, or investing in something that’s not going to work for your warehouse operations, means you run the risk of spending way more on that technology than you ever make back in its use.

Instead of just jumping on the latest gadget or piece of software, carefully consider whether you need everything that item claims to offer, and whether you already have something that works just as well.

Being smart about the technology you use in your warehouse is a key component to a well-run, profitable warehouse.

Warehouse Solutions on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we understand not all businesses are able to fully manage their own warehouse operations. That’s why we offer flexible, affordable warehousing and logistics solutions to businesses of all sizes, giving them the tools they need to become profitable. Call today for a customized quote!

4 Things Companies Get Wrong About Supply Chain Management

As a retail business, having a smooth-running supply chain is essential to your overall operations and future growth.

Without proper supply chain management, even the greatest, most helpful product in the world won’t sell well because it can’t get into the hands of the customers.

For many business owners, their struggles with supply chain management comes simply from misunderstanding the process. Many decisions are made regarding the supply chain of a company without knowing there’s a better way, and these decisions can cause major problems for the business.

Here are 4 things companies frequently get wrong about supply chain management:

Neglecting Data

Collecting, compiling, and analyzing data takes time and brain power. But, if your business fails to collect important data on your supply chain, you could easily be bleeding money unnecessarily.

Some common metrics that need to be collected and regularly analyzed include:

  • Cost per order processed
  • Cost per order handled
  • Fill rates
  • Fulfillment times
  • Cost per unit delivered
  • Average order value

Comparing these metrics can show you where your processes are inefficient or too expensive, allowing you to make important changes to positively impact your business.

Additionally, this data can be used to help you set goals for your business, and gives you a way to measure your progress toward those goals.

If, for example, you would like to increase the average order value by 10 percent, you’re only going to know what that increase should be if you’ve got data collected showing you what your average order value is now.

Failing to Future Plan

As a business owner, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of your business.

But, to paraphrase the old axiom, if you fail to plan, you’re just planning to fail.

Not taking the time to plan ahead and anticipate potential problems, such as disruptions in your supply chain due to strikes, bad weather, or a carrier going out of business, could spell disaster for your business in the long run. Taking some time to figure out a Plan B and even a Plan C for if something goes wrong and then never needing those plans is much better than getting into the middle of a supply chain disruption and having no plan for righting the wrong.

You also need to plan your supply chain for the business you want in the future instead of simply focusing on the business you have now.

Picking, packing, and shipping all your own products may work well for you when your order volume is small, but it’s not going to serve your business for very long if you’re successful. Instead, putting into place some outsourcing or expansion measures in your supply chain while your business is still small can better prepare you for an increase in business and better protect your supply chain overall than scrambling to find solutions might.

Inefficient Processes

For many small and medium-sized businesses, supply chain management often falls on the options that are the quickest to put into place and that are least expensive.

However, these are not often the most efficient or effective processes, including:

  • Paper-based workflows
  • Putting technology implementation before actual process
  • Failing to learn from best practices
  • Maintaining processes and steps that add little or no value for customers

Rather than going with what’s easiest or cheapest, it’s important to carefully evaluate whether that process you’re putting into place will really be efficient and effective. And, as long as you’re gathering and analyzing data along the way, you’ll also be able to tell whether or not the processes you currently have in place are efficient, making it easier to swap out parts of your supply chain management process that are no longer serving you.

Messy Processes

Over time, it’s very easy for the supply chain for any business to get a little “messy.” This could come from working with too many partners, or paring the process down too far so that one little issue can cause the whole thing to fall apart.

Take a careful look at your supply chain. Do you have a lot of vendors providing overlapping services? Are you paying for something you don’t really need? 

If you find that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, weed out any that you don’t need so that you’ve got an efficient, effective process across the board.

However, just be careful to not pare down your supply chain too far that, if one partner falls through, your whole chain falls apart.

It’s a careful balance between having a supply chain that’s too lean and one that’s right on target. Regularly evaluate the partners you’re working with to make sure you can strike that balance between too many and not enough for a well-running, effective supply chain.

Fulfillment Company on the East Coast

If you’re looking to outsource part or all of your supply chain management, look no further than Cannon Hill Logistics. We have more than 30 years of experience helping businesses succeed, and our convenient location on the East Coast means your products get where they need to go faster. Call today for a quote!

5 Reasons to Reduce Production Cycle Times for Business Success

Modern business relies on quick movement of goods from production to consumers. The faster you can get your products through the production cycle, the more competitive your business is overall.

If you’ve been considering shoring up your production cycle times as a way to make your business more efficient and competitive, it’s important to understand just how beneficial all that hard work can be.

Here are 5 reasons to reduce production cycle times for business success:

Innovation Opportunities

If you are consistently turning out products on a short production schedule, you will be better poised to meet new market demands. This allows your business unique opportunities to offer innovative solutions and get in on the ground floor of new products and technologies.

This ability to innovate can position you for more opportunities down the road, leading to greater success over time.

Better Positioning

For businesses whose products go to resellers or other businesses that then repackage and redistribute products, being able to quickly supply your products allows you prime positioning with your customers.

The faster you can provide your products, the better off your business looks in the eyes of your partners, and your business will be seen as more trustworthy and reliable.

Increased Productivity

When turning out higher volumes, it is essential to reduce overall production cycle times. If you don’t, you’re just running your production floor into overtime needlessly, eating into your profits.

By reducing your production cycle times, you’re making your operations far more efficient, and giving your business room to grow and produce even more in the future.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

If your company sells directly to customers, it stands to reason that the faster you’re able to get your products into their hands, the happier they will be.

By decreasing your production cycle times, you are getting products to your buyers more quickly, increasing customer satisfaction. And when you have happy customers, they’re more likely to recommend your business to their friends and family, or to make repeat purchases, helping your business grow and succeed.

Increased Profitability

The more products you can move through the production line in an 8-hour working shift, the more profit you can make.

By carefully analyzing the places in your production cycle where you can make changes and make things faster, the better off your profit margins will be. Where you could once move 10,000 units through the line in 10 hours, reducing your production cycle time allows you to move the same amount of units in 8 hours. This gives you two extra hours to move additional units through, giving you more to sell.

Experienced Fulfillment Services on the East Coast

For more than 35 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has assisted businesses across the world with all their logistics needs. We pride ourselves on developing individualized solutions to meet your unique needs, whether you need a small amount of support or want someone to run your whole logistics operation. Call today for a quote!

7 Tips for Maintaining a Great Relationship with Your 3PL

Choosing to partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company is a big step in your business. You’re putting a lot of trust in someone else’s hands, hoping that they can help get your products to where they need to be on time.

Part of getting the best service – and the most for your money – from your 3PL, is to foster a great relationship with your chosen provider.

Here are 7 tips to help you build and maintain a strong relationship with your 3PL:

Understand Your Reasons

The first step toward getting your relationship off on the right foot is to fully understand why you want the 3PL’s assistance.

If you’re just jumping into outsourcing because someone told you you should, or you think it’s the right thing to do, then you aren’t going to get the maximum benefit out of your 3PL relationship.

Instead, really analyze why you’ve turned to a 3PL for help. 

Are you experiencing growing pains and shipping products out on time is becoming impossible? Do you struggle with maintaining staffing levels, meaning it seems you’re always hiring people for your warehouse? Is space where you’re located too expensive to support you renting additional warehousing space as you grow?

Once you’re clear on your reasons for seeking the help of a 3PL, you can better identify what you need out of that relationship, and how you can mark the success of your outsourcing venture.

Set Clear Mutual Expectations

A working relationship is only successful if you set clear expectations up front, and they’re agreed upon by both parties.

If you need a 3PL that responds quickly to changes in your shipping needs, allowing you to call them and say you need to increase their capacity right away, let the 3PL know that up front. This gives them an idea of what you’re expecting as a customer so they can respond properly. And, if they will be unable to meet this requirement, they can let you know and you can either come to a mutually agreeable compromise or you can move on and find a different 3PL partner.

When setting these expectations, always remember that you’re not the 3PL’s only customer. Your needs may outpace their ability to provide for you, and you have to be willing to either adjust your expectations or find another solution.

Get a Baseline

It’s impossible to see performance improvement if you don’t know where you started.

If you’re turning to the 3PL for improved shipping and returns response time, for example, you need to first know how long it takes you to process those requests without their help. Whatever you’re looking for the 3PL to do for your business, measure it and keep track of that baseline.

This baseline will be something you’ll be frequently comparing similar measurements to as you and the 3PL work together to evaluate their performance on your account.

Keep Your 3PL Partner Informed

Routine communication with your 3PL is essential to a solid relationship, especially because your 3PL is essentially acting on your business’s behalf.

You can’t make a big decision such as changing packaging or bringing in a new product line without letting your 3PL know of the change so they can shift their services accordingly. And always let them know when inventory is expected to arrive. 3PL’s dislike surprises!

If you’re working to shift your business and anticipate your outsourcing needs will change, even in minor ways, it’s best to loop your 3PL in early so they can be part of the conversation. Your 3PL partner may even have ideas for how to implement your planned changes more smoothly and at less cost.

Measure Performance

You’re turning to a 3PL to improve the way your business operates in some way. Whether you’re looking to save yourself time, save money, or just improve overall responsiveness, you need to be able to measure that and track improvement.

Work with your 3PL to establish how data will be collected and relayed to you, and how often you will receive this data. Some 3PLs may report this information monthly, others may give it to you quarterly.

When you have the data in hand, compare it to your baseline numbers and any other prior benchmarks you may have. Sit down with your contact at your 3PL and discuss the numbers, working together to strategize how you can continue to improve them or, if the numbers don’t show an expected amount of improvement, work through what went wrong.

Involve Your 3PL in Long-Term Planning

Your 3PL is a partner in your business’s long-term growth and success. You want to ensure that they will be able to meet your needs into the future, so involve them in your long-term planning.

If, for example, you eventually want to expand into new markets or offer new product lines, your 3PL should be part of the planning of these new ventures so they can work out how best to support you. 

In addition to keeping them informed on changes you’re going to make that impact your service from your 3PL, they can provide feedback and guidance based on their experience working with other companies. This will help you avoid many frustrating setbacks and missteps, potentially giving you greater success overall.

Find Shared Company Values

As a business owner, you have to work with a wide variety of vendors and providers, all with their own unique company cultures. However, when it comes to your 3PL provider, you want to find someone whose company culture aligns as closely with yours as possible.

You will be working very closely with your 3PL and need to trust that they will operate in ways that have the best interests of your business at the forefront. This trust can be difficult to build if you partner with someone whose philosophy is in stark contrast to yours.

If, for example, you are an eco-conscious company, it will be difficult to build a great working relationship with a company that doesn’t at least practice some form of sustainability. The same goes for working with a company that still uses paper forms and files if you’re very technology-based.

You want to do your best to find a company with whom you share some important values, which makes aligning your goals and working styles much easier.

Experienced Third-Party Logistics Company on the East Coast

For more than 35 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has provided flexible, high-quality third-party logistics services to companies across the globe. Whether you’re looking for a little help to ease some growing pains or want someone to handle all your logistics needs, our team has a solution for you. Call today for a quote!

What You Need to Know About Fulfillment Service Pricing

Succeeding with your ecommerce business means finding ways to manage your inventory so that you maximize profits, minimize waste, and get packages to your customers in a timely manner.

To help you achieve these goals, you may consider hiring a third-party logistics company (3PL) to assist with your fulfillment service needs. As you interview potential 3PL partners, you may notice a wide difference in the way they price their services. 

This leads you to the question: What am I paying for when I use package fulfillment services?

At the most basic, there are five major types of costs that 3PLs factor into their fulfillment pricing: initial set-up fees, receiving and intake fees, storage fees, order fulfillment fees, and general shipping charges.

Initial Set-up Fees

Your initial set-up fees will vary based on what sorts of things you need to get started with your 3PL. 

If you need to connect your online shopping cart to the warehouse, you’re going to get charged more because this step requires assistance from IT professionals. For those who already have all the basics in place to transition to a 3PL, such as those who are moving over from another provider, the start-up costs are going to be much lower.

The initial set-up fees you’ll be charged can range from the hundreds of dollars into the thousands depending on what items are included and the individual provider’s prices.

When getting pricing quotes from individual 3PL companies, compare the services you receive with your set-up costs as well as the prices for each line item of those fees.

Receiving & Intake Fees

This type of fee is also called receiving and sorting fees, and covers the costs of the warehouse receiving, inventory counting, inspection, and putting your products on the shelves at the warehouse, among other things. 

The way 3PLs charge this fee varies widely, with some charging an hourly rate or a per unit basis. Some charge per order, others per pallet, some by item or box, and still others may charge a per-SKU fee. 

Some 3PLs don’t actually charge any explicit receiving fees, instead rolling the receiving fees into the picking and packing fees, causing those fees to appear higher overall. You may find this to be a simpler solution.

Storage Fees

Your storage fees are going to cover the cost of the 3PL actually keeping your products in their warehouses, awaiting shipping.

Most fulfillment service providers charge for this service based on how much storage space you utilize on a monthly basis, and can be calculated by the pallet, by the square foot, or by the cubic foot. How much you actually will be charged per unit for storage depends greatly on the location of your warehouse, their volumes, any special warehousing requirements you may have (such as climate controls), and other factors.

Typically, warehouses select a day each month where they perform a pallet count. The amount of space you are using on this date of the month is how much you get charged in storage fees.

So, if you had a high volume of inventory move out of the warehouse in the weeks prior to the monthly pallet count taking place, your warehousing costs may be lower even though you overall moved more product than in previous months.

Order Fulfillment Fees

These fees also are called pick and pack fees, and they refer to the cost of workers removing specific products from their warehouse shelves and readying them for shipment either to the customer or on to a retailer to be sold.

In some cases, order fulfillment fees are charged on a per-order plus a per-item basis. So, the 3PL will charge you a flat fee for every order fulfilled, then an additional smaller fee for each item picked as part of that order. Some 3PLs may charge you additional for heavier products, and you may also be charged a box fee in addition to the fulfillment fee. 

With this portion of the order fulfillment service fees, more than any of the other types of fees, it’s important to get a clear understanding of what your 3PL charges for, how much they charge, and how they calculate any additional fees and costs. 

General Shipping Charges

No matter what, your shipping charges are going to be among the largest line items in your overall order fulfillment budget. It’s expensive to get products from one place to another, but working with a 3PL can help bring that cost down.

Many 3PL companies receive reduced rates from shipping companies due to the overall volume of packages they send, and if your 3PL offers you their own shipping rates or shipping rates that are below those you would get working with the shipping company on your own, you can dramatically reduce your costs for this charge. Some also offer discounted shipping rates, either discounts off the published retail rates from a shipper or a cost plus model, which takes the 3PL’s shipping costs and adds a percentage mark-up but is still below retail rates.

However, not all 3PL companies allow their clients to utilize their bulk shipping rates; some do ask their clients to form their own relationships with shippers and get their own rates. Check with your chosen order fulfillment company to see how they handle shipping rates and whether any discounts are available.

Experienced Order Fulfillment Service on the East Coast

For more than 35 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has provided exceptional order fulfillment services for businesses across the globe. Our fulfillment center is located on the East Coast, just a short drive from Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Port of Baltimore. Let us design a custom solution for your shipping and fulfillment needs – Call today for a quote!

5 Signs It’s Time to Reevaluate Your Fulfillment Strategy

Every business faces growing pains, with the need to add employees, reconfigure product offerings, and reevaluate vendored services striking at what may seem to be the most inopportune times.

One way that many business owners feel the pinch of growth is in their fulfillment strategy, with unhappy customers or exorbitantly priced shipping fees often driving the change.

If you’re thinking it may be time to reevaluate your business’s current fulfillment strategy, here are 5 signs to look for:

You Can’t Keep up with Increased Order Volumes

Every business sees unexpected boosts in demand for their products, with these temporary jumps causing difficulty fulfilling orders on time.

However, if you experience a prolonged increase in demand, leaving you scrambling more often than not, your fulfillment strategy may need to be reevaluated.

If you’re consistently struggling to send out products on time, your customers likely aren’t receiving the highest level of customer service possible. And if your customers are dissatisfied, they’re less likely to return to you for repeat business, recommend you to their friends, and to leave a positive review for your business.

When you aren’t able to effectively provide solid service to your customers, you risk your business’s longevity and success.

Instead, outsourcing your fulfillment services or increasing the amount of fulfillment services that you outsource can help you better respond to increased order volumes and provide consistently good customer service.

You’re Running Out of Space

Real estate is expensive, no matter where you operate. But if you live in an area where space is truly at a premium, it can be difficult to run your business effectively if you’re cramming all your products into a space that’s too small for your needs.

In situations where you’re running out of warehousing and storage space, you’re faced with the choice to buy or rent more space or outsource your storage needs.

Depending on where your business is located, choosing to expand your warehousing space may be a next to impossible feat. Some markets are so hot that there’s very little extra space to be found and, when you can find the space, it’s prohibitively expensive for a small business to rent.

By outsourcing warehousing, you get flexible storage space as your business grows without having to foot the entire bill for rent and upkeep. Instead, you pay a fee to the warehousing company, and the expenses of the warehousing space are shared by all that company’s clients.

You Want to Focus on Other Parts of Your Business

Running a small business means you’re tasked with a variety of individual things, from marketing to product development, customer service to shipping. 

As your business grows, the amount of time your shipping tasks take up in your daily schedule can easily keep you from focusing on other, equally important, aspects of running your business.

If you’ve been considering offloading some of the items on your to-do list to help you spend your time on other neglected areas of your business, it may be time to reevaluate your fulfillment strategy.

Your skills are uniquely suited to the higher-level portions of your business, such as product development, networking, and marketing. Rather than spend your time working on projects and tasks that can really move your business forward, you’re buried in processing and packing orders – a task that could easily and capably be handled by someone else.

Your Business Has a Seasonal Sales Cycle

Many retail businesses have seasonal sales cycles, whether they be tied to holidays, seasonal changes, or back-to-school time, demand for products ebbs and flows with the calendar.

This fluctuation can make staffing and shipping management difficult, as you need greater capacity and staffing to handle higher order volume during certain months of the year, but not during others. As the business owner, much of the recruiting, hiring, and firing falls on your shoulders, adding yet another task to your never-ending to-do list.

Rather than stress about having to find enough temporary health to cover your business’s seasonal boost – and then having to let those temporary workers go at the end of the season – finding a partner in your business’s fulfillment services makes seasonal fluctuations easy.

Your fulfillment partner handles the recruitment, hiring, and firing, and also manages staffing without you ever knowing the difference. No more having to rush to cover for a bunch of sick employees!

Your Labor Costs Are Soaring

For many small businesses, labor costs are among the largest portion of their regular expenditures. And having to suddenly hire more people to cover increased demand for products can put a company’s carefully balanced finances in a bind.

If your business is facing much higher warehouse labor costs than anticipated, whether because you need the extra help or you have to pay each employee more to meet a new state minimum wage, you may need to reevaluate whether or not you want to keep your fulfillment in-house.

By utilizing a partner in your fulfillment services, you can spread the labor cost among several other businesses, decreasing the overall cost for everyone. This means more money back in your budget and less stress in the long run.

Experienced Fulfillment Services on the East Coast

For more than 35 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has served small- and medium-sized businesses with all their logistics and fulfillment services needs from our facility conveniently located on the East Coast. We know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cover every business, and we make it our mission to design individualized packages to meet your needs. Call today for a quote!

How Integrated Shipping & Fulfillment Services Can Help Your Business

Integrated Shipping & Fulfillment

As a small business, you want to make sure your products get into the hands of your customers as quickly and inexpensively as possible. To save on costs, that often means many business owners manage their own order fulfillment and shipping.

However, as your business grows, this task can become overwhelming and expensive. To help combat this, many small business owners consider outsourcing these tasks to a third-party logistics company.

If you’re on the fence about whether to outsource your shipping and fulfillment services to a 3PL, here are some reasons to consider making the switch:

 

Ecommerce Integration

If you use an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, most 3PLs will already be set up to manage the transition. This takes a weight off your shoulders, as you know that your inventory management can easily be handled with little to no disruption to your customers.

Rather than having to completely reinvent the wheel to find a fulfillment solution that works for your needs, the 3PL can adapt to make your business’s transition as seamless as possible.

 

Order Processing

Gone are the days of having to manually send orders to a 3PL, then wait for them to ship the products.

Thanks to modern order fulfillment software and integrations with your business’s ecommerce platform, your 3PL can begin processing, picking, packing, and shipping products as soon as a customer places an order. You don’t even have to think about this transaction taking place!

This gets products into the hands of your customers more quickly, making them happier and more likely to give you their repeat business.

 

Customer Support

Managing customer support requests – returns, exchanges, and customer questions – can be a full-time job, especially if you’re hosting a sale.

Your 3PL can pick up any slack you may have within your own staff, getting back to those customers more quickly than if you were managing customer support on your own. This creates happier customers and less stress to you as the business owner.

 

Returns Management

Shipping products out the first time is difficult enough, but dealing with returns and exchanges adds a whole new level of complication and stress to your inventory management.

Working with a 3PL means that they can handle the whole returns process for you, including processing and shipping exchanges, adding items back into the inventory, and cross-checking to ensure that items are labeled and shelved properly. 

Proper returns management helps you process any returns as quickly and inexpensively as possible, while creating a plan moving forward to help decrease the likelihood of further returns.

 

Flexible Delivery Options

Your customers want options when it comes to receiving their products. 

Those looking to save money may be perfectly fine with waiting a little while for their products to reach their doors. But for those who want their products as soon as possible, they may be willing to pay more for the shipping speed.

When you work with a 3PL, you get the ability to offer these, and more, flexible shipping options to your customers. This keeps them happy and coming back to purchase more items, giving you repeat, sustainable business without any logistical juggling on your end.

 

Repackaging Options

Do you need to offer a promotional kit to get the word out about your business? Or are you looking to change up the way your items are packaged so you can offer a new promotion?

A 3PL can help you with the physical side of repackaging, giving you the ability to create new, repackaged products quickly and easily without pulling hours of overtime.

East Coast Fulfillment Center

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve made it our mission to support businesses just like yours. Maybe you’re struggling to get all your orders processed and shipped on time, or you’re looking to grow but don’t know how to find the right people to support your expansion. Our team of experienced third-party logistics specialists can help you reach your business goals without all the normal growing pains. Call today for a quote!

Cannon Hill Logistics Donates Over 5,000 Juice Boxes to Food Drive

Last month, Cannon Hill Logistics supported local charity Blessings in a Backpack with a donation of more than 5,000 juice boxes to be distributed to local children in need.

Blessings in a Backpack Frederick is the local arm of a national organization that provides food packages for children to eat on weekends and during school breaks. Without these food packs, some of the children who receive them may not have anything to eat when they’re not in school.

The Frederick chapter serves more than 3,000 children in more than 20 of Frederick’s schools, offering packages of shelf-stable food each weekend and during longer school breaks. 

A traditional weekend package includes breakfast, a lunch entree, dessert, and a snack for each of the two weekend days. Foods typically included in these packages include oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, granola bars, rice, cold cereal, fruit cups, and pudding.

“With this amount, we will be able to add the juice boxes to at least one full pack,” said Karen Fishburn, Blessings in a Backpack food donation coordinator, said in an email to Cannon Hill. “What a tremendous donation! Thank you so much for your generosity.”

Blessings in a Backpack is an all-volunteer network that solicits donations of money and food to provide food for needy children. It costs approximately $100 to feed a child for 38 weekends, and all individual food donations – such as Cannon Hill’s donation of juice boxes – offset the purchase of food for the program’s recipients.

Cannon Hill is so thankful to have been able to help this worthwhile program, and we look forward to working with Blessings in a Backpack in the future!

4 Ways a 3PL Can Support Your Business’s Seasonal Sales Cycle

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All businesses have busy seasons, but some are more dramatic than others.

Whether your big sales season is the back-to-school season, right before summer hits, or the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the struggle of balancing all the individual tasks necessary can be overwhelming.

To help get through the busy season, many retailers turn to third-party logistics companies for extra support. 

If you’ve always thought you might want to use a 3PL to help through your busy season but are wary of the cost, here are four reasons you should give it a try:

Saves You Time

Getting ready for a big sale is time-consuming. If you’re already working with limited staff and resources, it can feel as if you’re quickly sinking beneath the to-do list and something’s always slipping between the cracks.

By hiring a 3PL to manage some of the important aspects of your business during the busy season, such as warehousing, picking and packing, and shipping, you free up your time to focus on other important things. That means more time for you to work on marketing campaigns, getting your website or storefront ready for the sale, and ensuring that you have sufficient stock of popular items.

No Seasonal Hiring

When you’re preparing for a busy season, you often have to ramp up hiring to accommodate the longer hours, higher volume of customer service calls, and increased processing of sales. This process can take up a great deal of time and money, and may even lead to frustration when you hire unreliable seasonal workers.

Rather than struggling with seasonal hiring and employee management, a 3PL can help you get the level of service your customers require without putting any burden on you. Your 3PL handles all the hiring of workers to accommodate your increased staffing needs. 

Flexible Response

Sometimes, a sale goes much better than you anticipated, and you and your team struggle to keep up. You have to work long, hard hours to ship all the products to customers, and the phone is always ringing off the hook. Or, on the opposite end, you anticipate a very high volume of sales and hire extra workers. But the demand doesn’t quite meet the staffing level you’ve set up, so you’ve got several extra people standing around doing nothing.

A 3PL, on the other hand, is able to maintain a flexible response to your business needs. Is your demand for products and customer service suddenly sky-high? They give you the help you need to fulfill all the orders and phone calls without you having to find new employees with quick turnaround. And, when your business slows down at the end of the season, the 3PL simply decreases the amount of services you receive without you having to fire anyone.

Saves Money

Ensuring that every piece of your order processing and fulfillment is efficient and gets products from your warehouse into your customers’ hands isn’t cheap. You need to find the right packing methods and materials, choose the fastest method of shipping, and respond to customer issues and complaints, plus hiring enough people to staff every department of your business.

When you hire a 3PL, all those pieces of your business are taken care of for you. You pay the 3PL one rate and get the benefit of their trial and error, relationships with shippers, and flexible staffing. When you add up all the individual pieces, hiring a 3PL is likely going to be less expensive than doing everything on your own.

Flexible Logistics Solutions on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve made it our goal to help you grow your business and take things to the next level. Whether you need year-round support or just some help during your busiest season, we offer customizable solutions to meet your individual needs. Call today to get your individualized quote!

5 Trends Driving Growth for 3PLs in 2020 & Beyond

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Demand for third-party logistics companies has been growing as the consumer market expands globally, and there are no signs of that trend stopping anytime soon.

As we close out 2019 and approach 2020, here are 5 trends that are driving the growth of 3PLs:

Uncertainty over Government Funding

The year 2019 dawned with the United States in the grips of the longest government shutdown in history. This left many shippers scrambling to find reliable, compliant logistics if they worked with government entities.

As the lengthy shutdown showed, shippers always need another option for getting their goods from one place to another. Many who didn’t have a backup before now have backups, or have entirely switched to non-government logistics companies, increasing the demand on those private 3PLs.

Increased Globalization

Over the last several decades, businesses have increasingly become more globalized.

What was once a business limited by the bounds of its geographic area for sales has had the opportunity, as shipping and commerce have become more affordable, to grow into an international company.

As more business has moved online, the opportunities for globalization have only increased, making small retailers more reliant on 3PLs that have that capacity and capability to quickly move goods from one side of the ocean to another.

Need for Increased Transparency

More and more often, consumers are questioning the ethics and practices of the businesses with whom they spend their money. This has meant there’s an increased need for transparency in business operations, including how goods get from one place to another.

For many small businesses, putting the software in place to gather this level of transparent data is cost-prohibitive. However, a 3PL is able to scale their practices and software to meet the needs of individual clients.

They’ve already purchased the software necessary to gather the important data consumers want, and your business gets to use that software for a much lower price. You give your customers what they want to see without breaking your budget.

Demand for Sustainability

Along with ethical data use and collection, many consumers want to know that the companies they’re doing business with are good stewards of their resources. From recycling materials to optimizing delivery routes, companies that don’t make at least an effort to be sustainable will be left in the dust.

Because of their economies of scale, committing to sustainable practices is much easier for a 3PL than for an individual company. If a 3PL can combine the shipping routes of two or more customers, they’re saving energy and money, keeping them in eco-conscious customers’ good graces.

Changing Delivery Methods

Gone are the days where “delivering” a good was just taking a truckload of products to a store where customers came and shopped. 

Now, customers want to have multiple options in how they receive delivery. Whether they choose fast, next-day delivery, slower freight options, or even buying online and picking up in-store, each of these methods provides its own unique set of challenges.

Because 3PLs have access to a larger talent pool, they can more capably and affordably respond to these new customer requests than can a small business trying to do it all on their own.

Skilled Logistics Planning & Management on the East Coast

For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has helped businesses across the globe reach new heights. Whether you need someone to help get your products from Point A to Point B or you want to hand off all your logistics and warehousing needs, we’ve got custom solutions to help you achieve your business goals. Get your customized quote today!