QUESTION #1: WHAT IS LOT TRACKING? AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Lot tracking (also known as batch tracking) takes a product group and labels them with a distinguishing code.
Consider lot tracing like leaving bread crumbs throughout the entire supply chain. But, for one group of products. Start to finish. However, it’s not to be confused with SKUs, the serial numbers for individual merchandise items.
Since we considered brand owners like curious cats, we could use yarn as our example. Say we’re operating an arts and crafts company. In that company, there was a yarn manufacturing line.
The yellow-colored yarn made out of rayon fibers will likely have a different lot tracking number than the pink yarn made out of cotton. They are two separate products co-existing within the shared supply. Which makes them two separate groups to enable tracking numbers.
Lot traceability plays a role in a healthy logistic system. Tracking provides a more manageable recalling, item quality assurance, theft assurance, and expiration date tracking. Logistic companies that incorporate lot tracking into their processes see higher success rates. To see the best rates possible, we suggest finding a 3PL that integrates lot tracking, has expertise when problems occur, and maintains the upkeep.
QUESTION #2: WHY DON’T ALL 3PLS OFFER CUSTOM PACKAGING?
There is no going back once a package ships off and arrives at a doorstep. That’s why every product-based brand should consider customization for a great customer experience.
Few businesses are not contributing to customized packaging in 2022. Whereas not all third-party logistics offer customization. If the consumers and businesses valued customized packaging, why don’t all 3PLs provide that service?
Because of these four lackings found in logistic sites:
- Lack of expertise. Upcoming warehouses may have inexperienced teams. But, there is not only factual data essential but also real-life experience when shipping. Lack of expertise can be a decline in the business logistic area. Lack of warehousing. Inventory space can create more issues than needed. We advise checking that the facilities capabilities can comfortably store supplies before co-partnering.
- Lack of technology. Tech advancement has aided subscription orders in more ways to count. Storing, packaging, management, and shipping require cutting-edge technology for scaling. Disregarding benefits, many logistics lack technology advancement because of the upfront funding. Thankfully, we serve as a tech-first DTC (Direct-To-Customer) fulfillment for brands to recognize technology’s importance.
- Lack of equipment. Outdated equipment can fail a subscription box operation in a matter of minutes. Unsupported safety tools, loading dock equipment and technology are usual causes.
- Lack of workforce. A logistics company would be nothing without a strong crew. A team requires knowledge, strength, and organization for the company’s growth.
QUESTION #3: WHAT ARE POPULAR RECURRING PROBLEMS FOR SUBSCRIPTION BOX ORDERS?
The booming subscription box industry has developed in the past decade. Because the idea of subscription boxes hit the ground running, and they have not stopped. But with the popularity increase, there is an increase in problems too.
Popular recurring issues include the following:
- Oversaturation. Subscription boxes feel personal and relevant to consumers’ interests. When businesses caught on that subscription boxes created this feeling in subscribers, the industry became oversaturated. Quite frankly, there is a subscription box for everything. Books, makeup, designer accessories, show merchandise, and even hot sauces! Which is incredible for the customer, but for companies it means oversaturation. However, this should not discourage us from proceeding in the subscription box business. We just have to be mindful of standing out without compromising quality.
- Hiring the wrong 3PL. There are loads of options for logistics, but there is only one right choice for the owner. Data, tracking, and years of knowledge to apply are considerations when choosing the right logistical company. Back to our five lackings found in logistic companies, if we hire the wrong 3PL it’s a failure set-up.
- Demanding delivery times. Subscription boxes mean consistency, promise, and expectation fulfillment. One of those expectations requires delivering items on a month-by-month basis. These delivery times become demanding. If the supply chain dips or a complication occurs, the company and subscribers can suffer. Because even though products may fit in boxes comfortably, the customers’ expectations don’t.
QUESTION #4: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DECENTRALIZED, CENTRALIZED, AND HYBRID FULFILLMENT CENTERS?
Centralized, decentralized, and hybrid fulfillment centers. Three small terms with different meanings. The purpose of these methods are to calculate dividing, supplying, and shipping between locations.
- Centralized: Instead of distributing goods amongst multiple locations, centralized warehouses rely solely on one hub.
- Decentralized: Decentralized warehouses are the opposite of centralized. Decentralized depends on several storehouses to package and ship inventory.
- Hybrid: Hybrid centers play both sides of the coin. Some business owners do not want to commit all inventory into separate places or in one location. Hybrid fulfillment comes in here. Hybrid centers mix both concepts, keeping some in-house and distributing the rest.
Decentralized, centralized and hybrid fulfillment centers all contain benefits for each brand owner’s needs. Whether it’s cash flow, supply chain or core values, there’s no two businesses the same. 3PLs need to conform to each company’s desires, because there is no right or wrong approach to a company’s vision.
QUESTION #5: INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR COSTS?
International shipping is amazing to scale business and provide products globally. But, there are still tons of questions around cost responsibilities. This being said, cost responsibilities are an in-depth topic that requires a deep understanding.
One word we need to associate with is Incoterms. Incoterms stands for International Commercial Terms. These terms are by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Learning the whole process takes research, but here is a short guide. There are overall 12 international shipping costs to learn:
- Export packaging
- Loading charges
- Delivery to port
- Export taxes & duty, customs clearance
- Origin Terminal charges
- Loading on carriage
- Carriage charges
- Destination terminal charges
- Delivery to destination
- Unloading at destination
- Import taxes & duty, customs clearance