October 30, 2014

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.

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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!)

October 2, 2014

The supply chain, as its name suggests, is made up of many individual links, so when we talk about how to learn supply chain management, it can be tough to know where to start.

Today we’re taking our “Unpacking” series of posts to the educational aspect of our industry, and how you can get started on a career in the field. Capacity LLC’s co-founder and CSO Thom Campbell has plenty to say on the subject and, with more than a decade at the top of the industry, his insights are valuable to anyone just starting out. Continue reading Unpacking: Skills Needed for Supply Chain Management

September 4, 2014
Erik Möller during Metrics meeting.
Metrics meeting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supply chain metrics aren’t always high on the list of operations managers or small business owners. After all, there’s plenty of pressing real world work to be done on a daily basis, without adding the need to put a number on each and every activity.

As long as the product gets where it needs to go and the cogs keep turning, the supply chain is working right, right? Unfortunately that’s not always the case (and even if it is now, it won’t always be!)

Measuring and drawing meaning from the right numbers is important for anyone seeking to better understand their operations and flag areas for improvement. When we talked about ways to cut supply chain costs earlier this year, measurement was a crucial element.

Managing by Measuring

Putting numbers to your operational activities provides a tangible way to regularly review performance.

But knowing where to begin can be difficult. There are potentially hundreds of valuable numbers to track and limited resources to track them. And then there’s the analysis paralysis that often comes with getting too heavily into . Finding a balance between the two is the key, and it follows from measuring only what matters.

Even if you have several objectives, try to pick the top two or three and work6 backwards to create suitable measurements for each. Whether the goal is to improve efficiency, reduce delivery time, or a broad range of

The next question is what metrics to put in place to measure what matters to your company’s supply chain.

Supply Chain Metrics

Some examples of what you might measure are:

  • Percentage of shipments on-time,
  • Average delivery lead time,
  • Order error rates,
  • Order fill rates,
  • Supply chain adaptability,
  • Returns processing costs,
  • Customer satisfaction levels,
  • Customer retention rate.

There may be many more areas important to your business. In order to zero in on the right measures you’ll need to convert mission statements and primary operations objectives into numbers that accurately explain them. Some of these are tougher to translate from statements to metrics than others.

In some instances, you may have existing measures that can be adapted to tell a wider story of what’s happening in your supply chain. Individual reports could be combined into a monthly review to bring together different areas of your operation.

Creating a list of items that can be measured specifically, feeding into an overall metric that you will use to gauge progress towards the end objective, is a far more effective, useful analytics approach than simply gathering together a suite of basic headline numbers.

Meaning Over Metrics

Finally, having gathered a group of metrics that give you a foundation to review your supply chain operation, the next challenge is to derive meaning from the numbers.
Remember that the goal should always be to understand what the metrics mean in terms of movement in your desired direction, not just an arbitrary shift in an individual number.
Combining meaningful metrics with a long-term view of operational development then becomes an outstanding opportunity to squeeze more from your supply chain and move your business forward.
August 1, 2014

Continuing our #Unpacking series, today we take the tech out of supply chain terminology.

A great deal of technological wizardry goes into getting your goods from A to B (and C and D and etc.), but it need not be as baffling as some of the acronyms and industry lingo make out.

Here to help you bust that jargon is a clarification on some of the terminology you’re sure to hear as you liaise with logistics partners. Continue reading Unpacking: Supply Chain Tech Talk

July 11, 2014

Ours is an industry of jargon, as any of you who’ve ever had an extended conversation with a logistics professional probably know (hopefully we’re not too guilty of that!)

Filled with shipping acronyms, technological terms and  transportation abbreviations, understanding our world can sometimes require a good look a Google… unless you read this blog!

kitting gift box
Kitting can be a tastier subject than you’d think! | Image Credit: Angie Six

We want you to understand exactly what we’re talking about, even when it requires using industry shorthand to explain a complete process. That’s why we’re starting out ‘Unpacking…’ series of posts, which will feature a quick, plain English explanation of a term from our industry.

Today is seems fitting to start on the assembly line, to explain what we mean when we refer to ‘kitting.’

 

What Is Kitting?

Kitting is the part of the order fulfillment process that  assembles individual products into ready-made sets. This can be gift boxes, promotional packages, or anything in between that requires distinct items  to be put together to form a set, which is also known as a ‘kit’.

Kitting services benefit businesses in a number of ways:

  • Adds value to the standard order packing and fulfillment process, creating more attractive product packaging and other elements that end customers enjoy.
  • Saves time on bringing together products that consist of many parts, especially when those parts come from multiple suppliers.
  • It brings several goals together in one when product fulfillment is also used to add promotional literature like catalogs or coupons.
  • It provides a quick and easy way to broaden your product range, by bringing existing items that complement each other together in a new.
  • Kits can be created at a location closer to the distribution point, minimizing handling errors and the potential for breakage.

So now that you know a little more about where kitting fits into the assembly process, here’s Capacity LLC’s Director of Assembly, Emily Siegert, to talk about how we go about it:

We’ll have a more in-depth look at how your business can get more from the assembly line next week, so stay tuned to our on Facebook Twitter and Google+ streams to keep up to date!