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Streamline and Build Efficiency Through Cross Docking

Ever wonder how some products make it to their destination in record time? Better yet, what about the ones that arrive on time and don’t cost an arm and a leg? The Hail Mary strategies behind logistics and supply chain can vary from business to business, but often enough for retail, a major way to lower cost and raise efficiency is through a process called “cross docking”.

Let’s talk about this. More importantly, let’s discuss how it works and how your company could benefit by implementing this logistics strategy.

Cross docking is a logistics strategy where products from a supplier or manufacturer are distributed directly to a customer or retail chain transport with little to no handling time and storage. Think of cross docking as a transaction. On one end is the carrier of the product or in this case a cashier. On the other lies the recipient or retail chain that easily receives the goods without having to wait endlessly and pay for large amounts of warehouse space. Below is an image of how this process works.

Cross Docking Process

Another way to think of cross docking is the wheel of a bicycle. The hub is the supplier of the goods and the spokes are the various retailers that are pulling their goods from the one supplier. This creates balance and efficiency and deletes the need for large warehouses and many distribution centers.

What are some other benefits of cross docking?

  • Lower warehouse and storage costs
  • Efficient supply loads
  • Lower transportation costs

What about disadvantages?

  • Need for technology to time and manage shipments
  • Need for large fleet of trucks
  • Better fit for major retailers and not small business

Within cross docking lies many tactics in how to make it all work to your benefit. If you are a retailer that sells various types of goods, cross docking can use “consolidation” which would take small shipments and compile them into one large transport. Another tactic is when a major retailer that needs to distribute a large amount of product to various stores, but orders the supply in one large bulk. You can “deconsolidate”, which would allow this large bulk of supply to be fed into many trucks at one time, thus lowering the amount of stops that would have to be made by the supplier.

In the end, cross docking is a logistical method that calls for perfect timing and procedure but reaps the benefits of lowering overhead costs and streamlining turn around time. What does this mean for you? Well, it could boost your bottom line and shorten lead-time. For your customers it could mean lower retail prices, always-stocked shelves, and shipments being on time. Overall, if your company’s warehousing, transport or distribution costs are too high or being placed completely on your plate, consider investing in a 3PL service that can help you implement a cross-dock strategy.