Businesses need to replenish their inventory to keep their eCommerce fulfillment services running smoothly, and each time they receive new goods, their warehousing team accepts the goods, logs them, and forwards them to the appropriate pick and pack warehouse. While dock-to-stock might seem pretty simple in theory, it becomes complex as your business grows. When a business is new, it can be managed with basic in-house storage until you pack and ship orders. However, with growth comes the need to assess whether you must split your inventory across multiple third party logistics (3PL) companies.
Running an expanding business calls for you to forecast and cater to its growing needs by either renting warehouse space nearby or working with a 3PL warehouse. When fortune favors your business, and you begin searching for warehouse services, you may either hunt for one along the lines of a ‘fulfillment center near me’ as you can save on personal travel expenses that way, or you may consider working with multiple 3PL fulfillment warehouses and save on the cost of shipping packages and total transit time.
What Does Dock-to-Stock Mean?
Dock to stock (DTS) refers to the process that starts from the receipt of goods by a warehouse at a loading dock and ends at the stocking of inventory on the racks of the warehouse storage. Efficiency of this process plays a significant role in producing an overall improved fulfillment process.
Dock to Stock Processes
The efficiency of an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse is dependent on the correct and efficient execution of a series of processes that make up the crucial dock-to-stock warehousing and logistics, which are:
- Receipt of Inventory Receipt of incoming inventory refers to the ‘docking’ bit in DTS operations. To ensure correct order fulfillment, the warehouse receiving staff must be ready to monitor the unloading of cargo and discuss any queries and concerns that they may have right away. In eCommerce warehousing and shipping, it is considered good practice to have the trucks loaded in reverse order from back to front, according to the delivery schedule. This way the workers can easily unload the goods without needing to shift other cargo. In case of huge volumes of bulky cargo, you may require pallet jacks and/or forklifts.
- Validation of Inventory After the inventory has been received, the warehouse workers need to ensure that the new goods meet the specifications and are in the right condition and quantity. When dealing with bulky and voluminous inventory, businesses need innovative warehouse solutions to help them out in this process. For validating the inventory status, workers need to check each delivery’s contents, its seals, and product codes which can consume a lot of time and labor. End-to-end eCommerce solutions such as partnering up with a 3PL for eCommerce who is an expert in logistics can help with inventory inspection.
- Inventory Stock Levels Update Once the received inventory has been approved, it must be logged into the warehouse inventory. Accurate and updated inventory count is crucial for meeting the consumer demand and ensuring fulfillment order accuracy in the future. Partial orders with mixed goods are more subject to inventory errors, therefore opting for an innovative inventory management system must be considered. That way, workers will be able to keep tabs on real-time stock levels with ease and much less chance of error.
- Organization and Storage of Inventory The last stage of an efficient DTS operation is a careful and well-planned organization and storage strategy for the newly replenished inventory. We can not stress enough the importance of this stage and the need for supply chain optimization for order fulfillment. For businesses that own or lease a warehouse storage space, their own logistics staff caters to the entire documentation and verification of inventory, in addition to manual tracking of inventory levels or monitoring the WMS if it’s in possession of one. As for businesses who partner up with third party warehouse logistics, the 3PL logistics team takes charge of all the work in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. These elaborate DTS steps need to be conducted accurately and in the correct order for successful order fulfillment. Any setback in these steps can negatively impact and prolong the DTS cycle duration.
How Can We Reduce Dock-to-Stock Cycle Times?
For an efficient DTS process, it is essential to reduce its cycle duration. Optimizing some crucial elements of the DTS cycle can greatly improve the results.
Appropriate Warehouse Design
The loading dock should be designed such that cargo vehicles can unload quickly and without having to wait, and the staging area for cargo pallets must be clearly allocated.
Centralization of Receipt Orders
Centralizing the receipt of orders can help in optimizing and reducing employees movement and travel duration.
Automation of Equipment Handling
Automating the process of handling equipment as well as storage systems can reduce the cycle duration and save on operational costs in the long run.
Implementation of a Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Streamlining inventory records and constant stock level updates are very time-consuming and labor-intensive. That said, inventory management is extremely prone to human error and the best way to mitigate this is by implementing a WMS. Not only would it provide real-time and error-free tracking, but it would also serve as an expediting warehouse solution for the dock-to-stock cycle.
ShipBots can help you optimize your dock-to-stock efficiency. Get a custom quote and partner up with our team of experts.