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QuickBox Fulfillment Jun 12, 2024 9 min read

Location, Location: How Proximity Drives Fulfillment Success

We’ve all heard the saying, “Location, Location, Location.” This key concept is not just important for real estate. In fact, it may be even more important when it comes to fulfillment and logistics. Indeed, location plays an important role in the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of fulfillment operations.

Let’s map out some of the many reasons location—and often more than one location—matters significantly to ensure you delight your customers with faster, more reliable delivery services.

Proximity Benefits

When fulfillment centers are closer to customers, shipping distances are reduced, thus hastening deliveries. Faster deliveries are vital in today’s day and age as customers are increasingly expecting two-day (or quicker) delivery.

It also can reduce transportation costs, which is important as customers are also increasingly looking for free or low-cost shipping options. Locating fulfillment centers in major population centers and or near transportation hubs can also help your business leverage cheaper shipping routes and methods.

The strategic placement of inventory can also ensure inventory is available in high-demand areas, which allows businesses to optimize stock levels, reducing the need for expensive expedited shipping. In addition, having multiple locations can help companies manage regional spikes in demand and ensure stock is available where it’s needed. This can buffer against potential disruptions, such as natural disasters or local issues. This buffer allows operations to continue smoothly, even if there are unexpected events.

Another benefit is faster, easier, and less costly returns processing, which is a vital aspect of ecommerce customer service.

Ultimately, being in close proximity to customers decreases your costs and enhances your customers’ experience. This improved customer satisfaction can then increase repeat business.

Increased Operational Efficiencies

The right locations can also help enhance operation efficiencies by optimizing route planning. For instance, multiple locations can help optimize last-mile delivery, which decreases costs, improves efficiencies, and decreases delivery times. Plus, it can reduce the risk of delays and logistical bottlenecks, especially if facilities are located near transportation hubs, such as ports, airports, or major highways.

Being located near manufacturers or suppliers can also enhance inbound logistics, which allows for more reliable restocking and, again, reduces lead times and helps reduce the risk of stockouts.

Lesser-known benefits include improving regulatory compliance. Having centers in multiple locations allows you to navigate varying fulfillment and shipping regulations per region. Certain states and territories may also offer tax incentives. And with increasing costs throughout operations, those can be appealing for numerous reasons.

This is why we have multiple strategically located warehouses at QuickBox. Our various locations across the U.S. allow us to manage complex inventory systems, handle high-volume shipments efficiently, and help reduce delivery costs to improve service levels for all of our clients, even those with extensive SKU variety and shipment volumes.

Managing Multiple Fulfillment Centers

Managing several fulfillment centers across the U.S. (strategically located in Denver, Atlanta, New York/New Jersey, and LA) is complex, but it’s a crucial aspect of modern logistics. Effective management takes a combination of strategic planning, advanced technology, and efficient and ever-improving operational practices to ensure inventory is optimally placed, orders are processed accurately, and delivery times are minimized.

We leverage our Warehouse Management System (WMS), which provides real-time visibility and control over orders. And products are strategically placed to meet client demands efficiently. Everything is coordinated through a centralized system that integrates all aspects of our logistics network. By focusing on continuous improvements, this approach has allowed us to handle high volumes and complex SKU varieties for a wide range of clients effectively, including:

  • Advanced inventory management systems with real-time tracking across all locations to reduce the risk of overstocking or stockouts by automatically triggering stock transfers between locations or reorders from suppliers based on predefined thresholds.
  • Strategic inventory allocation by using data analytic tools to predict regional demand based on historical sales, seasonal trends, and market analysis. In addition, high-demand products are placed closer to large customer bases. At the same time, slower-moving items are centralized or based on strategic needs and to balance storage costs and delivery efficiencies.
  • Efficient order routing and fulfillment using an order management system to direct orders to the most appropriate fulfillment center based on proximity to the customer, inventory availability, and shipping costs. In addition, if a single location doesn’t have all of the items in an order, the system can coordinate split shipments from multiple locations to ensure customers receive their complete orders as quickly as possible.
  • Dynamic shipping and logistics optimization, including integrating fulfillment services with multiple shipping carriers, using algorithms to choose the best option based on cost, speed, and reliability. Leveraging technologies like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and route planning software also optimized delivery routes, especially for last-mile scenarios.
  • Unified operations and communications, which oversee operations across all locations and ensure coordinated efforts and quick responses to any potential issues. Cloud-based tools enable seamless communication between locations and from inventory managers through shipping teams.
  • Scalable and flexible infrastructure, so we can adapt to changes in volume and demand without significant restructuring or changes to the workforce.
  • Technology integration and automation to handle repetitive tasks like picking, packing, and sorting, which increases speed and accuracy. In addition, IoT and RFID tags provide real-time visibility of inventory and asset location to enhance tracking and inventory management.
  • Data analytics for order accuracy, fulfillment speed, inventory turnover rates, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to continuously identify and monitor areas that could be improved. Then, regular improvement events are conducted to refine processes, reduce waste, and promote operational efficiencies across the network.
  • Risk management and contingency planning are enhanced with multiple locations. By providing redundancy, if one center is disrupted, operations can be rerouted and still maintain continuity.
  • Customer-centric approaches, including personalized fulfillment from customer preferences and purchase history, can optimize customer experience. Multiple locations can also allow returns to be processed in the center closest to the customer to speed up the returns process and again improve customer satisfaction.

Managing multiple fulfillment locations takes a blend of technology, strategic planning, and operational agility. When these elements are integrated, fulfillment services are more likely to meet or even exceed customer expectations while optimizing costs and maintaining a robust, scalable operation.

Data-Driven Decisions

A data-driven approach is another powerful way to make the most of fulfillment center locations and how they operate. For instance, analyzing consumer data can help determine where both primary and potential customers are located. Market trends and competitive analysis can also reveal gaps and opportunities in the market. Thus, you can ensure your product is stored in fulfillment centers that are closer to areas with high demand now and in the future.

By digging into carrier performance data, you can determine which carriers provide the greatest reliability and performance per region. This can help you choose the locations or carriers that best align with your company’s needs. Shipping and logistic data can help optimize routes to minimize expenses and decrease durations.

At QuickBox, data is key in managing our fulfillment operations. By leveraging the information from our Warehouse Management System (WMS), we can analyze and optimize inventory placement, shipping routes, and overall fulfillment efficiencies.

The locations of fulfillment centers are vital for a company’s ability to meet customer expectations, manage costs, and maintain operational efficiencies. Multiple locations provide the flexibility to scale, adapt to market demands, and mitigate risk.

Contact us now to find out how QuickBox’s multiple locations can help decrease your costs while delighting your customers.