Starting A Subscription Business? | Breaking Down the Logistics of Shipping

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There have been a slew of subscription based startups as of late.  One may think its pretty simple, someone places an order and you ship it out, DONE! Seems simple enough. Drop something off and away off it goes. However, behind the scenes, there is a large network of players involved in getting even the simplest of packages from one location to another. Getting a mental picture of what goes on in a warehouse or distribution center will provide a clearer picture of the different elements that play a role in all the logistics required, and the information processing that is involved in getting a package from point A to point B. There is more happening after a package is dropped off at a shipping location than most people realize.

Origin

One of the first things that happens to a package involves organizing information about where the package is going and how much it weighs. Other questions must be addressed, such as whether the package requires a certain temperature, and whether its contents are fragile. The sender usually provides this information and designates the destination, and while the sender’s location is usually the point of origin, that is not always the case. Sometimes the sender is thousands of miles away from the item he or she is shipping. This is often the case when using a drop shipping service.

Size and Weight Optimization

After origin and destination information is marked on the package, the next step involves determining the dimensions and weight of the package. A machine called a checkweigher is used to find out exactly how heavy a package is. This will determine several things about how that particular package gets handled. After all this information is gathered, logistics can be determined. This means determining the best way to handle this item during the delivery process, and the safest way to get it to its destination. Once those questions are answered, the package can begin making its way through the warehouse or distribution center.

Sorting

During processing, a package will be handled by several different people who play different roles in the process. It may be loaded onto a pallet by one person, and unloaded into a truck by another individual. Depending on the service used, the first truck that the package goes onto may be the one that actually delivers the package, but that is rarely the case. Most often, the package will be sent to a second destination, and sometimes even a third or fourth. The goal is to group items that are going to destinations in close proximity to another in the most efficient way, and then organize specific deliveries along a route in a logical order. This type of information, where a package has already been and where it is headed, is part of the logistics, and this type of data is often collected using a data dashboard, which is a digital means of tracking all the logistics information. Many companies provide tracking numbers so that both the sender and recipient can track the package to see what stage of the process the package is currently in. With some shippers, a tracking number is not provided. Regular postal mail, for example, does not include tracking.

Delivery

A package may go through several processing locations before it gets to the postal code that is designated as its final destination. At each center, packages are scanned to ensure that the logistics plan has been followed correctly, and that it is en route to the correct place. When it arrives at the correct location, it will be placed on a delivery truck that goes to individual residences and businesses to deliver items. When an item is on the final delivery truck, it is nearing the end of its journey. If a signature is required, the package will not be dropped off until someone is available to sign off on it, proving that the package was received. If no signature is required, packages can be left on a porch or doorstep or other designated area.

Sending a package involves a team of various individuals who play different roles in the delivery process. Good shipping logistics play an important role in making that process go smoothly so that packages arrive safely and efficiently. Good shipping companies manage all the data involved and make it seem like a simple task to quickly send packages all over the world.

Alex Espenson

Alex Espenson is a technology writer with a passion for home automation, tech security, and wearable smart devices.

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