Warehouses that ship small parcels are different than the other types of shippers that I have discussed so far. They ship a much higher volume of packages, from hundreds to thousands of parcels a day. They can be manufacturers, distributors, or third-party logistics companies (3PL). A 3PL is a company that provides outsourced logistics services (more about 3PL’s in a future post).
Small parcels are packages that weigh less than 150 pounds and are typically shipped with UPS, FedEx, DHL, Regional Carriers ( Lone Star Overnight, Eastern Connection, OnTrac,), and the US Post Office. Parcel shippers may also be Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shippers or full truckload shippers. The way parcels are processed is very different than LTL shipments. Each parcel has a separate tracking number and label. A LTL shipment is usually a pallet with many boxes and shrink-wrapped. The pallet is shipped as a single unit.
Companies that ship small packages send them directly to consumers (business to consumer or B2C) or to businesses (B2B).
Examples of B2C shippers include the following:
- books (Amazon.com)
- apparel and accessories(LandsEnd, Zappos)
- gift baskets and mail order (Harry and David)
- sporting goods (Callaway, TaylorMade)
- electronics (Best Buy)
- medical supplies (Liberty Medical)
- computers (Dell, Apple)
- drugs, vitamins (CVS,GNC)
Examples of B2B include the following:
- industrial supplies (Grainger)
- pharmaceuticals (Merk)
- automotive supplies (Michelin)
- office supplies (Staples)
- fasteners, bolts, rivets (Fastenal)
- electrical components (Westinghouse, Allied)
- industrial valves (Asco, Kingston)
- industrial chemicals (Dow, BASF)
Because of the sheer volume of packages that a typical warehouse sends, these shippers tend to be very sophisticated. Throughput and accuracy are the most important attributes that they look for in processing. Features that warehouse shippers look for include the following:
- Multiple user processing
- Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
- Business rules
- Error checking
- Mode optimization
- Integration with material handling systems, such as conveyors, scales, label printers
- International processing capabilities
I will be discussing many of these software features in future posts, so stay tuned.