Our “Unpacking” series is dedicated to defining and expanding upon a practice or concept in the supply chain world that prompts a lot of questions. You can read all of the previous entries here.
This week we look at price ticketing, an activity that for us comes under the category of “value added services.” These are activities that we undertake above our core services, often tailored to a client’s custom requirements. There are plenty of service solutions that come under this category and we’ll explore many of them in this series before the year is out.
Price ticketing is the process of labeling up products so that they include the information required by the customer and end-retailer. This includes the price, of course, any discounts, relevant product information, and often codes that can be scanned. In some cases customer-friendly codes may even be included, such as Quick Response (QR) codes that can be scanned by mobile devices and allow the customer to access more detailed product info and specifications.
Price ticketing tends to be completed at the point of manufacture, whenever possible. Product planners usually have close relationships with their manufacturer and build the price and information tags/labels into the production process. Often labor costs are lowest at this section of the supply chain, bringing the marginal cost per product down, and it’s appealing to have products labeled up and ready to go the minute they arrive at the warehouse.
That being said, when the country of origin has higher labor costs or insufficent expertise on the supplier’s part, the price ticketing activity may need to be moved further down the supply chain. We perform the price ticketing function for most of our clients. We focus a lot of effort and attention on our value added services and have become well-known . The labels often come from an approved vendor, or the client will provide an approved sample as a blueprint for production of the full batch. This makes it possible to take stock product and customize it for a specific retailer.
If price ticketing is pushed all the way to the end of the supply chain and reaches the retailer (DC or store level), they tend to levy charge back fees. These are sufficiently large enough to discourage this practice, making the 3PL an attractive alternative to price ticketing at origin.
Along with assembly activities – such as kits, gift sets, shopping channel combination packagess – this type of value added service comprises approximately 10 to 20 percent of the work that a 3PL (third party logistics) provider like Capacity LLC undertakes. It also provides an opportunity to get closer to our clients and understand their requirements a little better, the value of which is tough to put a price on (in a metaphorical sense, of course!)
Packaging is one of the most important areas of the order fulfillment and shipping process.
No matter how efficiently an order is processed or how quickly it’s delivered to the customer, if the product arrives damaged then the system has failed. Expensive returns and rework follow, creating waste that can be eliminated by ensuring that protective packaging is in place from the beginning.
Techniques to Ensure Protective Packaging
There are many options when it comes time to pack products up and ship them out, some more effective than others.
We use some of the following techniques to make sure that the products we ship are well protected in transit:
Overwrapping – a fully enclosed wrap, using heat-sealed film or paper around one or more products. You may be more familiar with this technique as ‘gift wrapping’. It can also be called ‘tuck and fold’ or ‘diamond-end fold’ wrapping.
Stretch Banding – the application of various different heat-sealed materials, banded around one or many products to create a bundle. By using printed film, product information can also be shown on the package, offering improved handling and verification for different orders.
Casepacking – places multiple products or bundles in a shipping carton that is then closed with hot-melt or adhesive tape.
Green Packing – using environmentally friendly materials such as new recycled corrugated boxes, crumpled craft paper, and post-consumer recycled plastic products (air bags, etc.) as default packing materials.
For smaller packaging jobs that you want to handle one at a time, we put together these best practice packaging tips just before the holidays, all of which apply to standard shipments as much as the Christmas rush!
Achieve Outstanding Assembly
In the same breath as discussing packaging, it’s important to consider the complexity of your assembly needs.
Often it can be a big challenge for a business to get products assembled in a way that’s both affordable and professional. For some clients, assembly work is all that we do and so we’ve honed in on the best ways to achieve outstanding assembly.
Consider the following questions before you decide how your assembly process will be set up:
What kind of presentation do you need for the products to be shipped?
How many products will be in the same package? Should they be bundled together or separated?
How will you identify and track what’s in the package?
How big is the order and what resources will it require to assemble?
One look at the video below shows how some organization and a robust process can combine to achieve outstanding assembly. Capacity CEO Jeff Kaiden walks us through the preparation of a gift box set for a client, including the assembly, wrapping, labeling and quality control checks. While these considerations come as standard for us, they can be a bigger burden for business owners unfamiliar with what needs to be done.
If you have questions about your packaging and assembly process, we’re happy to help!
If you have last-minute holiday shopping to be done, your last-minute holiday shipping also needs to be factored in… which means the time is now!
Even though festive shopping appears to have prompted less stress this holiday season, even the most seasoned shoppers can feel the pinch as Christmas nears and the deadlines begin to bite.
Here’s what you need to know to complete a successful last dash to the gifting finish line.
Domestic Deadlines for Holiday Shipping
First and foremost, remember that we’re talking about the continental U.S. here. Although specific providers may have last-minute shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, and perhaps Canada, you should check in with them to confirm those deadlines.
For packages mailed within the U.S., your final day for letters and cards is tomorrow, December 20th, although you could also pop them into your bigger priority mail package to delay the deadline until Saturday 21st Dec.
For the latest of the late shoppers, USPS Express Mail packages can be shipped as late as Monday 23rd December, giving you a whole weekend to search for that final perfect present for your dearest who aren’t nearest.
If you’re gifting outside of U.S. borders, however, most of the deadlines will have passed. Other than paying a hefty premium for your urgent international gift, looking at digital gifts or a provider who can still deliver in your destination country is likely to be the best bet. And if you wake up on Christmas Eve with a minute to midnight (we don’t need to know what you’ve been up to), there’s always the trusted fall back of e-gift cards to most digital retailers… just don’t forget to at least personalize the e-mail.
Don’t Drop the Ball, Use Safe Packing Practices
Capacity LLC is obsessed with the best packing practices. Ever since we successfully shipped Dorito’s and Tide laundry detergent in the same boxes, we’ve been consistently refining the packing process to squeeze out every last inch of product safety.
As you can see from the ‘Dropping Stuff Off the Roof’ video series on our YouTube channel, we’re out there testing for you on a regular basis!
Our general tips for best-practice packing are:
Check first to make sure your items will fit a Priority Mail box if you plan to use that service. Remember that catchy tag line “If it fits, it ships!” If not, you’ll need to plan your own external packaging.
Wrap items individually with a mixture of paper and plastic bubble packaging.
Add an additional protective layer around all of the items in your package.
No packing peanuts!
Check your final package for rattles. If items can still shift around, add an extra layer of paper.
Use standard packing tape, clear or brown, to close up your package. Don’t use string or cords which can jam up machinery.
Once your final package is in the mailbox, put your feet up and enjoy your favorite holiday treat to celebrate a job well done for another year. Happy Holidays!