Have you ever wondered what it takes to get your online grocery order to you? Ingredients come from all over the world to arrive at your doorstep. Any package requires expert knowledge for a fast and safe arrival, so these delicate, perishable, and health-related goods inside demand an extra level of care. Let’s take a look:
Logistics impacts the customer experience even before finished products are made. Just in Time inventory management principles help businesses forecast demand accurately and time the arrival of ingredients and raw materials to harvest, packing and production schedules to keep warehousing costs low and meet target stock levels.
Products should already be positioned at a warehouse to reach customers efficiently before ever clicking the checkout button. But you don’t want them hanging around too long when freezer burn and expiration can spoil your product. First in first out storage strategies reduce spoilage and increase shelf times for customer satisfaction.
Once check out is complete, online grocery orders are sent to a fulfillment center to be picked, packed, and labelled with care by packing associates. Especially with food orders, each box is a little different with individualized strategies to account for the delicacy of each food product inside and necessary temperature regulation during transit with reusable or disposable ice packs for cold items.
Distribution is the step that varies most for each direct-to-consumer order since it isn’t headed to a central hub like a grocery store. Depending upon where its final destination is, an online grocery order could take a climate controlled truck, plane, train or boat to get there quickly for optimal freshness.
The last step of any package’s direct-to-consumer logistics journey is the final tracking notification. These notifications both improve your customer’s ability to quickly transfer fresh consumables to their fridge at home and add to a robust system of supply chain transparency.
Though the package has already reached its destination, your logistics strategy team has one more step. In addition to the final tracking notification mentioned above, there should be similar notifications for each step of every package’s journey.
These data points collected at distribution checkpoints called nodes provide a constant stream of information on your cold storage logistics strategy and can be analyzed to create a full view of efficiencies and opportunities for a better customer experience in the future with consistent improvement.
Many direct-to-consumer supply chains also include a strategy for reverse logistics in the case of returns, but perishable items don’t often have the luxury of time to be shipped back and sent to another household. So getting your cold storage distribution right the first time is of the utmost importance. Add in the factor that customer health is on the line, and you’ll need to select a 3PL partner with a backup plan to keep things running smoothly.