As you operate your eCommerce business, you might look at ways to streamline your fulfillment needs or find ways to reduce fulfillment costs. Cross-docking is one option to help your eCommerce company do just that. Cross-docking, considered a just-in-time (JIT) shipping method, is the method of unloading inbound shipments and reloading the products directly into a waiting outbound trailer. With this method, you are able to skip storage during shipment and use your 3PL provider as a sorting center. By doing so, you are able to eliminate storage cost, thus, reducing fulfillment costs.

unloading truck

Types of cross-docking

If cross-docking is something that your eCommerce might consider, you should learn about the different types of cross-docking available. In most cases, cross-docking is offered in two types, pre-distribution and post-distribution. 

Pre-distribution

The first type of cross-docking is pre-distribution. In this method, the packages are already assigned to customers before even reaching the warehouse facilities. Once the shipment arrives, the packages are unloaded, sorted, and reloaded into the appropriate containers to be shipped to their next destination. Pre-distribution eliminates the time the packages may need to sit at the warehouse. However, it does mean that you as the eCommerce business and the 3PL provider you work with will need to plan the shipments out before they even leave your hands. 

Post-distribution

The second type of cross-docking is post-distribution. In this method, the packages show up to the warehouse before they are assigned to a customer. The packages would then wait for additional information before being unloaded and reloaded onto another trailer. The benefit of this method is that you as the eCommerce retailer and your distribution center have more time to properly plan out where the packages would be going and on which trailers.

Pros of cross-docking

Cross-docking can help businesses by reducing the amount of touch points products might experience in normal shipping methods. It can also help companies achieve the goal of an optimized supply chain. Here are some pros of cross-docking:

  • Reduce costs by cutting out warehouse storage costs, additional labor costs, and additional costs associated with warehouse handling.
  • Improved package handling by removing the pick and pack warehouse methods from your shipping process. 
  • Faster shipping times because you remove the need for warehouse storage by unloading, repacking, and shipping products out the same day.

Cons of cross-docking

Cross-docking might sound like it can only have positives associated with it, but it does have some disadvantages. Since the process normally requires bulk shipments to be separated into smaller shipments, specific procedures and warehouse requirements are met. Here are some cons of cross-docking:

  • Increase of warehouse needs due to the increase of docking space and the need for additional transportational vehicles.
  • Improved shipping plans due to the need of tracking individual products as they are moving from truck to truck. 

When is cross-docking used?

In most cases, cross-docking is used by businesses that experience high-demand and high-volume. However, this shouldn’t keep you from adopting this process if it seems to fit your logistic infrastructure. There are plenty of businesses that can utilize cross-docking, so you might ask yourself, “could my business benefit from this?”

Do you work with multiple suppliers?

Since cross-docking is the process of unloading and repacking products without storage time, it can be beneficial for companies who utilize multiple suppliers. Why? Because, you are able to pick up the additional items you have waiting at each supplier’s warehouse that you use. Essentially, the initial products that are shipped would arrive at your first supplier’s warehouse. From here, your products would be unloaded and repackaged with the new products that are provided by your supplier. By doing this, you can reduce transportation and warehousing costs. 

Do you have perishable products?

Cross-docking can help you save time on shipping. At certain warehouses, cross-docking ensures that the products that arrive are unloaded, sorted, and ready to ship within 24 hours. For this, it can be very useful for businesses who ship large amounts of perishable items. Especially since the longer they’re in transit, the more you must do to maintain temperature. By shortening your products’ transit times, you have the ability to avoid spoiled items or items going over expiration dates. However, you will need to primarily stick to pre-distribution cross-docking to eliminate the time the products sit at the loading dock. 

Do you offer backordering of products?

If you have products in high-demand, you might utilize the backorder feature to allow customers to purchase products before it’s produced. Your warehouse doesn’t waste a day or more putting items on the shelves that will immediately go out again. Cross-docking can allow your business to mass send your products to your warehouse or 3PL provider like Red Stag Fulfillment. This can ensure that the valuable item that your customer has been highly anticipating is delivered in a timely manner. 

How can RSF help?

Do you offer backorders on products and have you considered cross-docking? Red Stag Fulfillment can be the 3PL provider for you. We can often turn around a shipment in a day using cross-docking.With our highly-trained logistics experts and innovative tracking system, we can help you track your products as they are moved from truck to trailer. 

pick and pack fulfillment

Whether you are looking for cross-docking options, or prefer to use the full services of a 3PL provider, you are looking for a partner that can help make sure your products get to your customer in a timely, efficient manner. Red Stag Fulfillment can help you. With the use of our various logistic technologies, we can help you take the worry of supply chain management off your shoulders.

How Can RSF Help?

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