BY KERSTIN WOODS
With the rise of eCommerce, shipping has evolved from a component in the supply chain to a full-fledged customer satisfaction metric and value proposition for businesses to leverage for differentiation.
For example…just a few short years ago, two-day shipping had a high price tag and was considered either a luxury that only some could afford, or a punishment inflicted upon those of us who failed to plan far enough ahead. And, this high price tag made sense because we’re asking vendors to make a lot of process steps in a short amount of time. Considering it’s hard to get kids out the door for school with lunch and a backpack, the logistics process is truly mind blowing.
Logistics start to finish
At the risk of vast oversimplification, a vendor needs to invoice my account, find the item within their warehouse, retrieve the item and maybe pair it with other items on my order that may or may not be located near each other, print an invoice and return label to accompany my item(s), put them all in the right box, affix an accurate shipping label to that box, group my box with others bound for a similar location on a pallet, label that pallet for delivery, and send it on its way through the most efficient transportation mechanism (planes, trains and automobiles…).
Imagine doing that in parallel for thousands of items (or hundreds of thousands!). Now imagine doing that in parallel for thousands of items that are located across several football fields of warehouse. And, this doesn’t even touch on the process to get new items or returns into the system to begin with.
Any inefficiency in that system breaks the two-day barrier and consumer pain ensues. In this day in age, consumer pain gets vented onto a review site and brand satisfaction hangs in the balance. All because of the logistics process.
In fact, studies show that more than 70% of consumers comment on shipping in their online reviews. So, the impact of a negative shipping experience is both immediate and far reaching. Which is why logistics has moved from the supply chain to the boardroom as a brand equity metric.
Optimizing the process
At Toshiba, we’ve had the pleasure of helping many logistics companies achieve their highly demanding shipping satisfaction goals. Which means optimizing our multifunction (MFP) and barcode printers to help accelerate critical supply chain processes like printing shipping orders, bill of ladings, manifests, invoices, return labels, box labels, pallet labels, and more. We also partner with companies with the same relentless focus on process improvements and warehouse automation.
Speed is important, but so is accuracy.
The supply chain breaks if the box barcode label can’t be read by your delivery team five steps down the chain. So, focus on delivering both performance and accuracy.
Efficiency is critical too. You’re in the middle of a massive order and you run out of paper, how quickly can you reload? We care about usability factors like this because we understand that efficiency on the distribution center floor can’t be compromised.
And, make sure these systems come in form factors that can easily live on-site, in the distribution center and along the supply chain, so that you can optimize the workflow of your shipping process. I took many industrial engineering classes at Stanford and learned that one can never underestimate the impact of having the right tools in the right location for true process optimization to occur. With small, durable MFPs and portable barcode printers, we truly put the right tools in the hands of your distribution center team — in the right location.
Last, but not least, there are options available to maximize communication across the scope of your distribution center space through our digital signage offerings. Whether it’s safety information, inventory data or more – you can make information widely available and better standardize your operations no matter how large or small your scope.
These are just a couple of examples, but the key is – as you look to leverage logistics as a customer satisfaction metric, don’t forget to consider all the hardware options available to increase efficiency and productivity so that you can meet these ever-increasing and demanding pressures on your supply chain.