Five Fulfillment Fundamentals
Want a world-class back-end catalog operation? Here's what you'll need.
By Bill Spaide
Catalogers possessing high-performing operational units concentrate on the following five fundamentals.
1. Optimum Location
Superior merchandise fulfillment begins with facility location, which should provide
average or better solutions to the following criteria:
• An adequate labor supply of both full-time and seasonal workers, as measured in terms of costs, availability, stability and productivity. Note: This is the single most important location-related criteria.
• Proximity of suppliers and customers to the facility, as measured in both inbound and outbound transportation costs and delivery time.
• Local economics includes reasonable construction or building rental costs; availability of government incentives; and reasonable taxes (e.g., income, personal property, inventory, real estate, sales).
• Quality of life issues include climate, housing availability and costs, schools, cultural and recreational activities, low crime rate, and availability of public transportation.
• Proximity to corporate headquarters: Your facility should be close enough not to impede visits by company management and other involved staffers.
2. A Well-designed Facility
An effective and efficient fulfillment operation requires a facility with the following physical characteristics and a design that optimizes performance.
• Adequate space: This impacts every activity that's performed and how your operation is managed and controlled, including introduction of new systems, workflow, worker efficiency, supervision, security, employee morale and retention.
• Building design: A one-story square or a broad rectangular building is the preferred configuration for direct commerce fulfillment. This design permits merchandise to move in and out easily and minimizes handling.
• Bay size: A structure with large-sized bays (e.g., 40 feet by 40 feet) and few building columns is easier to lay out with storage racks and conveyors. It's also simpler to design straight aisles without jogs, and to achieve maximum floor space utilization.