Expert Advice

If you do ONE thing this month: Rethink your shipping station


The UPS guide to improving your shipping operation, one step at a time.

A key ingredient in efficient shipping is the shipping station itself. It comes down to throughput. That is, how long it takes to get an order picked, packed and on its way.

"Setting [the shipping station] up the right way can give you twice the throughput with the same number of people," says UPS's Scott MacDonald.

Setting things up the right way can give you twice the throughput with the same number of people, says UPS's Scott MacDonald, director of engineering services in the Customer Solutions group. He shared these keys to shipping station efficiency:

  • Identify your top sellers and stage them nearby. "Look at sales velocity and order characteristics, and move your ‘A' products close to the shipping station," he says. That alone will save a lot of time in the pick-and-pack process.
  • Have the right tools at hand. Keep standard boxes and packing materials for those "A" movers close by. Ditto for the computer, printer and scales. "You don't want packers turning around too much to get what they need," MacDonald says.
  • Pick into the shipping container itself. Pick directly into the shipping box, which can be prelabeled to save another step in the process.
  • Use FAQs and checklists for packers. Train and monitor employees so they know which boxes to use for which products. Post checklists and FAQs as reminders.
  • Optimize packaging. Because of dimensional weight, it's more important than ever to make sure you're not shipping air, says UPS's David Reynolds, director of advanced shipping technologies in the customer solutions group. A solution is stand-alone ShipExec software, which aims to optimize packaging from order entry to the shipping station. The Contax Inc. software examines an order when it's entered and prints the correct box (or boxes) to use right on the pick ticket. Your account executive can connect you with the Customer Solutions group to learn more. Another resource is the UPS Packaging Solutions, which can optimize packaging to minimize dimensional weight while ensuring safe arrival.


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