When it comes to business buzzwords, optimization is often at the top of the list. With numerous methods out there, such as Lean and Six Sigma, there are various steps that a company can take to gain efficiencies. One of the major areas where companies are focusing their optimization efforts is the supply chain, with process improvements geared towards saving time and in turn, money. In recent years, as the retailers look to drive efficiencies, they are putting requirements into place that create more work for their vendors upstream in the supply chain, such as standardized compliance labels. More and more retailers, including Amazon and Target, are focusing on improving their ordering and receiving processes by having their vendors apply specific shipping labels, at the vendor’s expense. Labeling your orders to meet retailer shipping labeling requirements is not as simple as “slapping a label on a box.” Retailer shipping labeling requirements are unique and typically, extremely specific. As an example, these are Amazon’s shipping label requirements for shipping to one of their FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) locations:
Each box and pallet you ship to an Amazon fulfillment center must be properly identified with a shipment ID label. Follow these guidelines for labeling your boxes:
- Print the full set of labels. Because each label is unique, don’t photocopy, reuse, or modify labels for use on additional boxes.
- Labels supported measure 3 1/3 x 4 inches.
- Don’t place labels on a seam or opening on the box because they will be damaged when the box is opened.
- Place both the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) shipment ID label and the carrier label (UPS, FedEx, or other) on a flat surface of the box so the barcodes don’t fold over the edges or corners.
- Both labels must remain uncovered so they are scannable and readable.
- Each box in the shipment must have its own FBA shipment ID label printed from your Shipping Queue.
- Each pallet you send needs four labels, one on the top center of each side.
- If you’re shipping multiple case packs in a master carton, apply the shipment ID label to the master carton. You don’t need to apply shipment ID labels to the case packs inside the master carton.
This is just one retailer’s requirements, so managing the labeling requirements of multiple retailers can certainly be a daunting task. Here are some labeling issues that you need to consider before shipping to your retailers:
- Does the label need to be applied at the pallet, case or order level?
- Does the label require individual item level information?
- Does each label need to be unique, saying what case number it is as it pertains to a specific purchase order?
- Does each label need an individual bar code, or is there a universal bar code that can be applied to each case?
- Does your warehouse have the capabilities to generate and print the labels in the correct format on the correct type of label?
- Does your warehouse have an efficient process for picking orders and applying labels?
- Does your warehouse know how many labels to apply and where to apply them?
- Are you utilizing EDI to transmit order information to your warehouse and your retailers? (See: How EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) Can Simplify Your Supply Chain and Save You Money)
These are some steps you can take to ensure that your labeling processes are in compliance with retailer requirements:
- Stay up-to-date on retailer requirements and industry standards.
- Train your warehouse staff to print and apply the labels to retailer standards.
- Develop a work flow that will allow your warehouse staff to pick orders and apply labels efficiently.
- Work with a warehousing partner who specializes in fulfilling orders to your retailers.
Rather than risk chargebacks and retailer disappointment, you’ll likely want to work with partner that can navigate the world of retailer requirements for you and provide your customers with the level of service to meet their standards. That’s where we come in: at Tyler Distribution, we have decades of experience adapting to and complying with evolving retailer requirements. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you provide better service to your retailers.