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Top Retail Logistics and Freight Shipping Best Practices to Know

Nathan McGuire
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October 15, 2021
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Top Retail Logistics and Freight Shipping Best Practices to Know
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With any business, understanding retail logistics and how to improve the retail experience in the backroom and on the sales floor are top priorities. A major issue in today’s society continues to come from out-of-stock or low inventory, and as noted by Retail Dive, “An "out-of-stock" situation includes empty shelves (encountered by 32% of shoppers), failure to find staff to help (16%), found staff, but not merchandise (17%) or the price in store didn't match an ad (18%), among other reasons (17%). All told, worldwide, shoppers experience $984 billion worth of out-of-stocks, $144.9 billion in North America alone.” Using freight shipping best practices—such as strategic carrier sourcing, knowing when to reorder products, and integrating systems—will help retail companies optimize their supply chain and improve overall freight flow of goods, reducing costs.

Track Retail Logistics and Sales Market Data

Retail logistics and consumer products make up a large portion of freight capacity for businesses everywhere on the road or in the process of loading. Understanding the current freight demands and the freight market volatility within the markets and shipping lanes can help shippers see the impact retail sales can have on the freight network as a whole. Shippers also have the ability to see differences in trucking spot rates and see if certain markets have decreased available capacity. Tracking retail sales and keeping up with data will allow businesses to analyze, monitor, and forecast demands within the retail industry.

Rethink Your Pallet Configurations

Companies must comply with a retail store’s non-negotiable pallet requirements or else the freight will not be accepted. If a pallet does not meet the proper configurations, the pallet may get taken to a nearby network facility to have adjustments done. A few key aspects to look for in pallet configuration include:

  • If the company requires a certain type of pallet, such as CHEP, as well as any weight and height restrictions.
  • If the load must be palletized with PO numbers, descriptions, date codings, piece count, and more on the bill of lading.
  • The shape of the packages must remain the intended shape, including flatness, while going through the supply chain.
  • No damages to the packaging. For example, boxes should not have creases, bulges, or imperfections that are visible.
  • Proper date coding for the minimum of two sides, even specifics in the font size and where the coding is displayed.

Pallet configuration and fully understanding the expectations of retail customers is a top priority in the retail market. Having knowledge of pallet configuration can help companies avoid carrier-added costs and rejection of the pallet.

Choose Your Carrier Based on Data-Driven Insights.

Carriers vary widely in service quality and the ability to track cargo as it moves through the network, causing issues with the delivery and raising problems. A carrier will have a considerable impact on the day-to-day operations, which is why shippers need to understand the importance of analyzing and evaluating carrier options. Using data to choose a carrier can help see data-backed facts such as fees, costs, expectations, and the carrier’s performance in the past. 

Shippers must remember to choose a carrier that provides transparency rich communications, reliability, and focuses on arrival times and quality. Choosing the least expensive carrier may sacrifice quality and delivery time on shipments, resulting in a negative customer experience overall. Having the proper technology and data to analyze information about the carrier, such as historical performance, fees, costs, and expectations empowers shippers to fully discuss arrival times and scheduling. 

Ensure Your Stockroom or Storage Areas Are Clean and Well-Organized

Having a clean and well-organized stockroom and storage areas can enhance accessibility to merchandise. Here are some tips to ensure the sales floor, backroom, and inventory count stay organized:

  • Before receiving more inventory, take time to organize products on the shelves, and backstock when needed.
  • For larger shipments and truckloads, sorting the containers as unload occurs makes the process of receiving and pushing products on the sales floor easier.
  • Bulk displays and additional shelving can help organize products in the backroom.
  • In some cases, hiring someone for specifics such as handling and stocking can provide the help needed to keep displays organized on the sales floor.
  • Having enough staff on the floor in each department can keep inventory accurate and well kept while also preventing theft throughout the store.

Having a well-organized sales floor and backroom location makes the overall experience easier for team members and customers. 

Check Freight Against the Vendor’s Invoice for Quality, Quantity, and Timeliness of Delivery

When processing freight after receiving shipments, the merchandise must match the information on the purchase order. Comparing the vendor’s invoice to the purchase order can ensure:

  • Terms of sale and pricing have the same information on both ends.
  • The company received the proper quantities that the purchase order shows.
  • The style, colors, and sizes of products from the shipment match the purchase order.
  • The buyer’s expectations have been met or even exceeded with the quality of merchandise.

If inconsistencies, incorrect quantities, poor quality, or anything pertaining to the merchandise is wrong, notify the vendor or manufacturers immediately. 

Work High-Priority and Fast-Selling Items First

Retail companies must know which products are in high demand and make sure those products are accessible in order to provide optimal customer experiences. This is especially important when staging freight for unloading and restocking to make sure these items can be pushed onto the sales floor with more priority. An example would pertain to the season right now, customers continue to have a high demand for autumn and Halloween decorations this time of the year. Understanding which products have a higher priority and will sell quickest should be on the shelf first. In the retail market, a key aspect has to do with shelf life, having a product sit on the shelves without much interest results is a waste of space.

Initiate Claims Processes for Late or Damaged Freight ASAP

Filing a claim typically entails filling out a claim form with data, including the specific nature of the loss or damage, the value of the product, the cost of the product, and documentation such as the bill of lading, delivery receipt, packing list, and photos. Having complete documentation and knowing the deadline, mode, and carrier can help shippers know-how immediately to file a claim. 

With freight shipping best practices, companies must understand the importance of initiating claims immediately. Planning for damage, loss, and theft can help shippers avoid having to make claims and help settle them quickly if claims happen. The main reason shippers cannot recoup the losses from a negative delivery usually pertains to missing the filing deadline. However, some 3PLs offer claim assistance and can provide advice and knowledge to ensure shippers know the proper way to file claims and what to expect from carriers.

Use Data to Know When to Reorder Product

If a company has too much quantity of a certain product, they waste money from the excess product sitting on the shelf and potentially lose profit due to how long it sat in the backroom. However, without enough inventory, the company will lose customers or may lower profit margins from not purchasing enough of a product. Without proper inventory management, shippers cannot make data-driven decisions about products to reorder. The main benefit of a well-optimized and up-to-date inventory management system is the awareness it brings when stock numbers begin to get too low or too high.

Utilizing advanced technology for inventory management and retail logistics can collect supply chain data that can provide data-driven insights into reordering products. Such software and data can provide businesses with accurate inventory levels, order levels, and deliveries done in the past to compare numbers. Shippers will have the ability to stop ordering too much product or order more when actually needed, thereby reducing inventory costs and increasing profit margins.

Integrate Your Systems of Record

With the market continuing to grow, companies must learn to adapt and embrace emerging technology and software. Observing the expected growth in the retail logistics market, Globe Newswire mentions, “As per a World Trade Organization (WTO) report published in 2019, the share of the service sector in global trade is expected to rise by 50% by the year 2040. Additionally, if the developing countries respond faster in the adoption of digital technologies, their global share in retail services is expected to surge by 15% by 2040.” For freight shipping best practices integrating systems can provide digital freight tools for data analysis, increased visibility, and digital document management. 

Work With a Retail Logistics Expert to Reap the Greatest Reward

Understanding the best practices for retail and utilizing them in a business can help companies adapt and grow with the market. Shippers must stay mindful of the retail market and the best practices to use for shipment and freight processing. A retail logistics expert can provide advanced insight into the supply chain and help companies achieve clean backrooms, integrated systems, track retail data, and keep total costs in check. Contact Wicker Park Logistics to get started today.

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