Distribution is often linked or made synonymous with the word logistics. In everyday jargon, these two terms are often interchanged and replace one another in some form, but they are in fact quite different. Distribution is essentially the movement of relocation of sold goods. It is the processes, routes, and techniques it takes to get a product from point A to point B, C, D, and however many in between. Logistics, on the other hand, focuses on the bigger picture, the entire story of a product’s life from manufacturing to consumption. Logistics in itself can include distribution alongside fulfillment, warehousing, transportation, supply chain, etc.
In this post, we will focus on how a distribution service can help your company lower overhead costs, manage variables, and better predict future outcomes.
Many companies within the logistics and distribution industry say that besides the initial sale of an item, the biggest challenge retailers face is one that is hidden. That challenge is known as routing guides. If you are a retailer reading this, that term probably sends shivers down your spine because it can easily become a spider web of nightmares. For those not in the midst, essentially a routing guide is a system of steps and procedures a distributor must take in order to distribute and sell its goods in compliance with retailer contracts. That includes the packaging, labeling, and shipping methods. Where problems occur is when you sell to more than one store because routing guides differ from retailer to retailer. Thus, it is up to you as the supplier to alter your shipping methods to fit their standards.
This can be a major setback for companies, especially for those growing quickly because there is little time and few resources when it comes to avoiding mistakes and missed opportunities. In the past, suppliers would ship their goods any way they saw fit and retailers would accept them even though it went against their guide. When enough was enough, retailers began enforcing the guides by implementing potential chargebacks, which meant that companies could be fined for not abiding. The costs of the fines could be thousands of dollars a year and potentially create problems within stores such as empty shelves or shipments that are lost or damaged.
So how do companies get out of this downward spiral?
The answer is an outsourced distribution service. Many 3PLs that offer distribution services have professionals that know each major retailers guidelines and can easily implement a streamlined solution to help ensure your bottom line isn’t riddled with fines.
The potential benefits a 3PL distribution service can bring to your company:
- Little to no fines due to routing guide chargebacks
- Streamlined fulfillment of orders and correct shipping processes
- Less overhead costs of hiring your own distribution team
- More room for growth and better profits
- Wider range of retailer outreach as a result of distribution and warehousing capacity
- Happier and more trusting customers because they can rely on their packages or products to be in stock and arrive on time
- Less stress on your company, thus allowing more creative freedom to build your business
Though logistics and routing guides can seem complex, it is the systems that keep things moving efficiently. By partnering with a 3PL and distribution company, you can rest assured that your product will get to its destination on time and without hidden penalties.