On its own, order fulfillment can be a complicated process, and the right fulfillment partner can revolutionize this process, optimizing everything from the amount of time it takes to put a box together to the price and speed at which a package is shipped after an order is fulfilled.
But when it comes to kitting, fulfillment is a different beast altogether. It requires careful coordination of inventory, efficient picking and packing, order forecasting, and even the thoughtful design of packaging meant to enhance the fulfillment process.
So what should you know about warehouse kitting? How can the right fulfillment partner help you open up your operations to the world of kitting?
What Is Warehouse Kitting?
Kitting is the term used in the online retail and fulfillment industries to describe a certain kind of fulfillment. Instead of picking and packing individual items when orders are placed, kitting refers to the process of assembling several individual components into ready-to-ship kits in advance, grouping multiple SKUs into a single SKU available for customer purchase. This effectively expedites the fulfillment process and helps save on fulfillment costs.
For example, in the beauty and wellness industries, online retailers may group skincare products, makeup, vitamins, or healthy snacks into ready-to-ship kits. These kits can be sent to customers who make one-time purchases, but they can also be sent as part of an ongoing monthly or quarterly subscription.
Warehouse kitting is an essential fulfillment strategy that takes the burden off of eCommerce brands. Rather than devoting their valuable time to assembling these kits themselves, these direct-to-consumer (DTC) and online brands have their third-party logistics (3PL) partner handle their kitting services.
Kitting is also a valuable asset in a world where unboxing is a trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Kits can be thoughtfully compiled and carefully assembled in the warehouse to optimize the consumer experience. Since online retailers typically cannot rely on the brand experience of walking into a brick-and-mortar store, the customer experience is reliant upon a positive unboxing experience. And when nearly 200 videos each received over one million views in 2020? Unboxing (and kitting!) matters.
Kitting and assembly services are both unique opportunities for online retailers to combine top-of-the-line products, personalized packaging, and other unique touches to create a memorable customer experience that makes online retail feel just as special as shopping in a beautiful storefront.
eCommerce Kitting Strategies: A Smart Solution
Kitting is more than just a chance to connect with customers and provide exceptional value and special experiences. It’s also a valuable sales strategy.
Fulfillment kitting and warehouse kitting are savvy ways to put more merchandise on the market. By selling kits, you aren’t just selling products by the piece; by bundling similar items together in a kit or set, you can offer special deals, introduce loyal customers to new products, and cross-sell promotions.
When you combine items in your inventory into a kit, you extend your inventory organically — without having to develop new products or pay for additional storage. Kitting also means:
- Offering additional purchasing choices to customers
- Finding fresh, new, exciting ways to offload poor-selling inventory
- Cutting distribution costs
Kitting and fulfillment services with OceanX equal faster order assembly and fewer picking and packing or shipping errors. Plus? As the retailer, it allows you the chance to provide better, more custom packaging that’s completely optimized and well-suited for your kits. You’ll pay less for packaging and shipping, have more control over the packing and fulfillment of your online orders, and have more predictable fulfillment costs in the long run.
Custom Kitting Services
A kitting service should never be a one-size-fits-all solution, and there may be times where standard warehouse kitting just isn’t enough.
Custom kitting allows for even more personalization — either as it pertains to the products that go into each kit or to smaller batches of kits assembled and distributed to brick-and-mortar stores for sale or for special promotions for holidays, sales, or other eCommerce events.
Our OceanX team is proud to support our clients with custom kitting services and kit-to-order services for their omnichannel and DTC sales streams.
Personalization is an increasingly important offering for those in the world of DTC and online retail, and personalized or custom kitting, in particular, is seeing massive growth compared to other revenue streams in online retail. At OceanX, we support tens of thousands of customized orders per day as well as fully flexible, customized, and even recurring kitting at scale, as seen with many subscription kits available on the market today — especially in the world of beauty and wellness.
Cutting Edge Systems for Picking Inventory and Order Accuracy
Many eCommerce brands choose to work with 3PL partners to increase their efficiency, but for many, order accuracy is just as important as efficiency. OceanX has refined its processes to not only expedite the order fulfillment process but also to make it more accurate as well — and kitting is no exception.
Customers choose kits carefully, which means there’s no room for error or missing product. Picking the right products for kitting fulfillment is key to a successful, smooth operation. In a culture of two-day shipping, online brands must keep up with lightning-speed fulfillment, but they must do so without the errors that can happen in even the best fulfillment centers. Incorrect kitting can result in expensive returns and dwindling customer loyalty, adding time and money to the fulfillment process and impacting future sales as well.
With multiple “moving parts” in play, there’s a lot that can go wrong with eCommerce kitting fulfillment if 3PLs are not careful. This can mean:
- The wrong items are picked and packed in one or more kits.
- Kits are incomplete, with only a portion of the items picked.
- Too many pieces are included in each kit, resulting in inaccurate inventory data.
In each of these instances, the cost for the eCommerce brand is steep — paying out of their bottom line, with losses to their reputation, or both. It’s clear that accuracy must be a priority when it comes to picking and kitting.
OceanX understands the need for accuracy, which is why we’ve helped the customers who rely on 100% order accuracy achieve their goals with our pick-to-light and quality check processes to eliminate the possibility of any errors. This system was developed after already reaching a 99.8% order accuracy rating with the understanding that for some brands, nothing less than 100% accuracy will do.
Total Accuracy: How It Works
To reach 100% order accuracy, our OceanX fulfillment strategists incorporated barcode readers at the end of the fulfillment line. After following a pick-to-light order picking system, orders and kits that rely on 100% order accuracy enter the scanning section of the fulfillment line. At this point in the fulfillment process, our innovative scanning technology scans two barcodes to ensure picking accuracy; one code on the side of the box and another on the items in the box to be sure the two match completely.
Two days after implementing this accuracy assurance system, the OceanX fulfillment team noted the following fulfillment stats:
- Over 10,000 processed orders
- 4.27% of packages redirected for manual correction
- Only 0.4% of orders fulfilled incorrectly
- 99.6% of rerouted orders were redirected because of a minor scanning or barcode issue
- 100% post-scan fulfillment accuracy
OceanX specializes in kitting and personalization. Our team combines fulfillment line technology and industry best practices to pick, pack, and ship various product combinations with ultimate order accuracy.
Essential to the success of a highly efficient kitting fulfillment process at scale? Developing and implementing the right packaging. Too often, packaging can get in the way of fulfillment, or it doesn’t support the needs of a kit.
OceanX’s fulfillment centers are equipped with top-performing automation and a high-throughput packaging line for orders and kitting that enables same-day shipping, including services like:
- Custom kit development
- Marketing inserts
- Free samples
- Tissue wrapping
Sometimes, brick-and-mortar stores will request kits from online retailers, calling for personalized packaging as part of the negotiation. OceanX is happy to work closely with online retailers to develop packaging that is cost-efficient, eco-friendly, and works as a seamless part of the fulfillment process to keep kitting fulfillment expenses low and ensure kitting can be completed quickly. Our packaging and kitting services can be completely catered to you.
Additionally, kitting reduces the amount of packaging you pay for as an online retailer — and, therefore the money you spend on shipping too. Employing the help of a 3PL service well-versed in kitting, subscriptions, and other kits is a strong strategy to offer your customers fast, reliable shipping and delivery while also keeping your packaging and shipping costs to a minimum.
Kitting and Inventory Management
The key to any kind of fulfillment success is inventory management, which becomes even more critical when it comes to building and selling kits. eCommerce brands can’t sell full kits if the right products aren’t in inventory. Conversely, if products have been set aside for kitting, they cannot be sold on their own.
Kitting and inventory management require a delicate balance, which requires several things:
- Accurate, data-driven inventory forecasting
- At-a-glance visibility of inventory in each fulfillment center
- Data-based awareness of how much inventory to send to each fulfillment center
Knowing when it’s time to reorder products that make up a kit? Removing kitted items from the general inventory? Predicting where to send products to optimize inventory costs and keep shipping costs and times to a minimum? Accurately estimating the number of kits you’ll need (with an awareness of product shelf life)? All this requires of-the-moment, machine-learning-powered inventory management solutions.
Bridge by OceanX serves as a total command center, complete with an inventory dashboard to observe ongoing inventory trends to better manage the supply chain. The Bridge Portal is designed to manage OceanX services and view all forecasting and reporting in one easy-to-digest location so that kitting doesn’t disrupt your inventory management processes; it enhances it.
Your Experienced Kitting Partner
OceanX didn’t just establish the world of DTC and online retail kitting; we continue to rewrite the rules, helping our customers do more at scale. We may have defined the genre, but we also work every day to ensure we’re still the very best in the business. OceanX has the flexible warehouse solutions, fulfillment operations, inventory management solutions, and third-party logistics tools you need to make your kitting operation a simple, streamlined reality.
With a network of fulfillment centers and decades of experience, we’ve got kitting covered. To learn more, connect with our team to request a quote today.