Do you believe in distribution elves?

Once, consumers took it on faith that their orders would arrive. Today, they want visibility into your stock, their orders and the expected delivery times. That takes more than elves.

By ·

Remember the old days?  I mean, the really old days when you taped a quarter to a magazine coupon and sent it off to Marvel Comics, taking on faith that someone, maybe an elf, would create and ship a Jack Armstrong Club ring to you within a few weeks? 

Lord knows how those elves pulled it off. But whether it was a crystal set to a Dick Tracy wrist radio, the merchandise just magically appeared.

Today, the elves have been replaced by the Web.  That allows me to place my order, select the shipping mode, and receive an instant acknowledgment. Instead of wondering whether today is the day the mail will deliver my prize, I can monitor the shipping status on-line.  It’s still magical, but in a different way.

E-tailers create that kind of inventory and order visibility with real-time data capture and bi-directional customer and trading partner communications.  Naturally enough, their success depends upon their visibility of inbound products, warehouse inventory, outbound order and in-transit shipment status as well as the ability to provide customers with access to accurate updates on expected delivery dates and times. 

If you’re being asked by your trading partners to provide more visibility, the process should begin with a measured assessment of the types of data required, along with how, when and where it will be captured, validated and disseminated.  Next, put a value on potential benefits for your business and then begin looking at the myriad data capture, systems and communications options available.  If your trading partners are not pressuring you yet, you still might want to begin your investigation now.  You don’t want to disappoint some little kid who believes in elves, do you?

Read more columns by John Hill at Modern.
More Best Practices content.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Totes keep produce fresh from field to store
A two-part reusable plastic tote features a frame that cradles produce in a recyclable, replaceable sleeve.
Download Today!
From the December 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer expectations, Rocky Brands installed a put-to-light and sortation system to ramp up fulfillment.
The Big Picture: Navigation Gets a Reboot for Automatic Vehicles
Top 20 3PL Warehouses 2017: Growth amid change
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
System Report: Rocky Brands Sees the Light
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer...
Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
The top lift truck suppliers list is changing with industry acquisitions causing a dramatic...

Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
In a new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business...
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...