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It makes perfect sense – have your fulfillment company, who already stores and ships your goods, handle your upcoming kitting project. After all, they are experienced in picking and packing orders and should be able to complete it without any issues, right? Unfortunately, the answer may very well be “no” if they don’t have some fundamental practices in place. Make sure that you talk to your fulfillment provider about these key indicators of success before you pass them your next project.
Most fulfillment services companies use a warehouse management system that helps them keep track of receipts, inventory, orders, and shipping information electronically. This software oftentimes has sophisticated components that systematize the picking and shipping processes, helping to eliminate potential errors. And most of the warehouse management systems on the market today have a “kitting” component to them as well. This kitting component allows the system to track all of the components of the completed kit, so that the warehouse team can allocate all of the necessary products to be kitted together, take them out of inventory, track the number of completed kits once the project is finished, and monitor the number of finished units shipped and remaining in inventory. Is your fulfillment company using a software program to properly track and manage the flow of your kitting project from start to finish? If not, it could spell disaster, as manual processes are always subject to human error.
Another vital component to ensuring the success of your kitting project with an outsourced fulfillment provider is to make sure that the actual staff that will be completing the project is highly skilled and competent. Fulfillment companies are notorious for hiring “temp labor” to complete a kitting project. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this thought process, be careful when it comes to the people that are actually processing your project – especially if it is a complicated project. The best scenario is to have people that are familiar with your company and your product, perform the kitting services. This way, you can remain confident that there won’t be a significant learning curve and corresponding error potential. And if the entire project can’t be completed by the internal full time staff of the fulfillment provider, at least make sure that a member of their team is managing the project. Things can easily spiral out of control when a temp worker that doesn’t have any familiarity with your product is suddenly thrust into the management of the kitting function. Ask your provider what staff will complete your project to gain comfort that it will be handled appropriately.
The last thing that you need is to have your fulfillment house fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to kitting. Make sure that they have standard operating procedures for these types of projects. Companies that successfully manage kitting projects usually have procedures manuals, allocated space with effective lighting, proper tools and relevant equipment to process work, among other things. Be sure to check with your provider about what processes they have in place to ensure success. And in particular, make sure that they have a method of tracking the success of the project. This will help everyone understand exactly what happened at every stage of the project.
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