To Cross-Dock or Not Cross-Dock, that is the Question

We already wrote about why store replenishment is crucial for shippers going into peak shipping season. One supply chain strategy companies depend on to keep their stores fully stocked is cross-docking services. A wide range of businesses utilize cross-docking services every day to quickly move products to their stores directly instead of having products stored in traditional warehousing. But which method is best for your business? There are many different reasons to consider when or when not to use cross-docking. This article offers readers an opportunity to learn more about cross-docking services and how they are helping shippers optimize their businesses.

Different shapes and sizes of cross docks

Cross-docking is a shipping service that involves a distribution facility that serves as a staging ground for inbound and outbound truckloads. Typically, an inbound truck arrives, backs into a dock door, and workers then arrange and transfer product from one truck to another. Cross-docking companies range in size and location and may offer specialized services. A smaller cross-dock company might have only two dock doors, limiting truck capacity and loading weight time. Larger facilities might include dozens of dock doors and outdoor ramps, which improves shipping and handling capabilities for larger retailers. Some cross-docks are temperature-controlled environments that specialize in refrigerated freight like fresh produce, meat and dairy, and frozen goods. Some 3PLs and asset-based carriers own and operate cross-docking terminals, providing shippers with additional perks when choosing a transportation provider to manage their logistics.

When it might make sense to crossdock

Suppose you are a shipper exploring different ways to help optimize your supply chain and reduce total expenditures. In that case, you should probably consider the five different reasons to use cross-docking services. Cross-docking, in general, is probably best suited for shippers with a regular volume of inventory that sells off the shelf quickly. Perishable items like fresh fruit or vegetables, meat and dairy, and alcohol come to mind, but also things like electronics, car parts, and pharmaceutical supplies. If your stores need replenishment, a cross-dock can help shippers consolidate loads and reduce the time spent making multiple drop-offs. For example, a large grocery store chain located in the heart of Chicago might need stock replenished each day, but might lack the loading docks to accommodate multiple truck deliveries due to their store’s location in a busy residential neighborhood. With a cross-dock service, a shipper can reduce the number of trucks delivering into the store per day by consolidating loads into a single shipment.

With cross-docking, shippers gain speed and efficiency. However, they lose access to storage space for all of their stuff. Cross-docks are not designed for long-term storage. On the contrary, their purpose is to move products quickly and eliminate the need for storing goods. The distinction is important because traditional warehouses will always be valuable options for shippers looking to store their products. Yet, cross-docks provide logistics managers with flexibility that can help streamline some of the challenges companies are experiencing with their middle and last mile deliveries.

The top benefits of using cross-docking service include:

  1. Shortened loading and delivery times.
  2. Ability to organize loads more efficiently.
  3. Reduced dependency on warehouse space and storage handling costs.
  4. Reduction in transportation expenses.
  5. Reduce your overall stem distance.

What to Consider First Before Choosing a Cross-Docking Service

1. Start with a Plan

Shippers ready to implement changes to help optimize their supply chain first need to identify areas in their business that need improvement. Cross-docking service requires advanced planning, scheduling, and staffing to ensure that freight gets routed as efficiently as possible. Make sure to partner with an industry expert with an ample network of cross-docking services in their repertoire.

2. Develop your Carrier Capacity

Cross-docking also requires dedicated capacity from transportation providers who value on-time delivery. One of the advantages of procuring truck capacity when using cross-docks is that the service can drastically reduce the amount of time carriers have to wait to get loaded at a warehouse. Therefore, it should be easy for your procurement team to find carriers interested in servicing your loads when you are using cross-docking facilities. When choosing a logistics provider with a cross-docking service, consider one with an extensive carrier network to help your business.

3. Refocus your Resources and Energy Toward Customer Success

Cross-docking can help businesses reduce storage and transportation costs and improve on-time delivery. As a result, shippers can reallocate funds, invest in technologies that help automate routing guides, and shift personnel away from warehouse operations and towards expanding beyond their current book of business.

Count on WARP to Support your Cross-Dock Needs

There are a variety of reasons why shippers should implement cross-docking as a strategy to help optimize their supply chains. Besides the goal of helping keep their stores fully stocked with inventory, cross-docking helps reduce transportation costs and shipping delays. WARP is changing the global truck freight industry. WARP has built proprietary software that combines a vast network of carriers and cross-docking facilities that shippers can use to tackle their specific middle mile and last mile fulfillment needs. Solidify your supply chain network by partnering with a company backed by almost a century of collective experience in helping organizations overcome their unique fulfillment needs.Start shipping with WARP today.

By
Troy Lester
Co-Founder and CRO

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