Alternative Drayage Fulfillment Strategies: Cross-docking, Pick and Pack Warehouse, and More

Posted by Port City Logistics on Mar 29, 2022 1:48:26 PM

Drayage services remain one of the most critical yet overlooked aspects of shipping and transportation today. These services deal with the short-haul transport of goods from container ships to rail yards, warehouses, or storage lots. New port drayage tech and drayage services help ensure final-mile deliveries go according to plan while also connecting various modes of long-haul transport for a smooth and seamless delivery process from crating and shipping services at warehouses through delivery to retailers and beyond. According to eMarketer, “Total US retail sales will increase 2.5% year over year (YoY) in 2022 to $6.624 trillion. Ecommerce sales will grow 16.1%, while growth for in-store sales—which will account for more than 80% of total retail sales—will be close to flat.” As demand grows, drayage fulfillment strategies continue to offer reliable shipping options for all manner of e-commerce driven sales.

The State of Current Port Congestion on the East Coast

Ports all along the East Coast are seeing a significant uptick in the level of imports processed through major ports. As highlighted by a recent report from Supply Chain Dive, the ports of New York/New Jersey, Virginia, Charleston, and Savannah handled over 900,000 imports just in August 2021 between all the ports combined. That total is nearly 11% more than they handled the year before. 

The goal is that increased services and investments these ports are making will help boost efficiency and capacity to deal with the significant backlogs and congestion issues seen at typical Western Ports. Dealing with these major backlogs and bottlenecks has necessitated shifts in typical supply chain logistics and drayage fulfillment strategies. In an attempt to improve drayage services and shipping strategies, several alternatives can further speed up shipping, improve customer satisfaction and avoid costly expenses and delays. 

Many innovations today are set to improve port drayage in 2022 and beyond. Cross-docking, pick-and-pack warehousing, direct hub injections, and dropshipping are just some of the alternative methods available to shippers today.

What Is Cross-docking?

Cross-docking is a specialized logistics procedure where products from a supplier or dealer are sent directly to a customer or retail chain. There is little to no additional transport handling or storage time needed between shipment modes with this process. Cross-docking takes place in a distribution docking terminal. As the name implies, the process goes like this. A port or distribution hub directly receives products. This is done through a designated inbound dock, and then the goods are transferred from one area of the doc to the designated outbound transportation dock. With this approach to drayage fulfillment strategies and port container management setup, the cargo is never shipped off the docks to a warehouse or storage facility. Instead, they are simply moved from one vehicle to another directly to continue on their way to the final destination without layover or holding time.

What Is a Pick-and-Pack Warehouse?

This is another effective option that shippers can consider when looking for time-saving drayage fulfillment strategies to consider implementing. Pick and pack warehousing is a process where certain fulfillment centers choose products from shipments that come in in bulk supplies. The larger orders are then broken down and re-packaged into smaller shipments for final distribution. 

When the warehouse receives shipments, the items and loads are recorded with a digital inventory management system for automated shipping accountability, tracking, and ordering. When orders come in, the necessary items are pulled from the larger inventory load, recorded, subtracted from available inventory, and then shipped. Picking hints at selecting the right quantities from the available warehouse storage. Packing refers to placing those items into shipping boxes, labeling, and shipping them to the final customer. This is also part of crating services. And even more importantly, the same processes require massive increases in visibility for food-grade warehousing too. 

What Is Hub Injection?

Direct hub injection shipping is another example of drayage fulfillment strategies that can help shippers keep up with the growing pressure of e-commerce sales. With this supply chain model, products and loads heading for the same country are grouped together and sent to the final destination country. This can be done via air or ocean cargo shipment. Once the cargo arrives, the products are delivered directly to the end customers, usually by a local domestic carrier. Direct hub shipping is quite simple and offers an effective way to monitor and control shipments with as little logistical acrobatics as needed. Online retailers can circumvent traditional courier services and supply chain methods and offer their customers fast, affordable, and reliable services for any shipment needs. 

What About Dropshipping?

New and innovative drayage fulfillment strategies are necessary when dealing with increased volume and pressure caused by e-commerce and online shopping and shipping trends. Dropshipping is another example of a modern order fulfillment method becoming increasingly popular today. With dropshipping, a retail store, whether a traditional brick and mortar store or an online shop, doesn’t keep stock and maintain a supply of its products on site. Instead, the store orders products from a third-party supplier who sends the item to the customer. This option is often much more affordable than managing inventory, monitoring warehouse inventory, and paying for the labor involved with those logistical needs.

How Alternative Drayage Fulfillment Strategies Lower Overall Risk

Keeping up to date with the latest alternatives and options for better drayage fulfillment strategies can help shippers better manage profits and expenses and lower their overall risk with every load they accept and every order placed. Letting the third-party partner handle the coordination between dray carriers and distribution centers and focusing on improving drayage fulfillment services overall makes it easier for management to focus on more essential tasks and services. Innovative services help shippers lower their overall risks in the following ways.

Fewer Containers to Manage

This approach allows for much faster and more streamlined unloading, managing, recording, and processing of individual shipments and items. Unloading containers in a more effective way and having a more automated inventory system makes it easier to manage containers and reduce dwell time at the warehouse overall. This also helps to enable faster and more effective use of crating and shipping service by making it easier to avoid container backlogs at the warehouse. 

Increased Throughput Through Other Suppliers 

By diversifying the options for drayage services, final-mile deliveries, and hub distribution, shippers make it easier to boost productivity. Less time finagling with middlemen and warehouse logistics means faster shipments and more on-time deliveries. This all translates to higher levels of customer satisfaction all around. 

Better Ability to Empty Containers Faster 

One of the most significant challenges facing shippers today is unloading and processing times. With innovative drayage fulfillment strategies, containers can be processed, unloaded, and distributed much faster and with fewer issues and disruptions overall. The faster containers get emptied, the sooner other shipments can be processed.

Ability to Use More Dual Transactions

Allowing drivers and shippers to combine container drop-offs and pick-ups in the same trip speeds up the entire shipping process. It is easier to manage dual transactions and more innovative logistics with a good drayage plan in place. This approach will increase productivity and allow for more streamlined services and innovative shipping options. 

Industry-Specific Fulfillment Processes 

Streamlining the next leg of shipping with instant fulfillment through services such as pick-and-pack warehouses, freight consolidation, and dropshipping allows shippers to target specific industries. Innovative drayage fulfillment strategies help supply chains offer services that meet specific needs and avoid issues such as rolled cargo.

As the demand for pandemic-enabled trends like quick shipping and affordable pricing options continues to be in high demand, shippers must react to customer needs and offer shipping services that provide on-time delivery and optimized customer experiences. Retailers must continue to adapt to new e-commerce and digital marketing models to retain consumers. 

As highlighted by The Street, “In 2022, we no longer have to deal with tough year-over-year comparisons with 2020. But we can’t ignore all of 2021's challenges, such as labor supply shortages, supply chain constraints, and inflation concerns.” Optimized and personalized drayage fulfillment strategies make it easier to meet these needs, even when traditional drayage options are not as viable. 

Tap Alternative Drayage Fulfillment Strategies by Partnering With Port City Logistics

There are many challenges of drayage that shippers have to contend with, and a reliable third-party partnership is a great way to improve fulfillment strategies. When searching for drayage service providers to help with distribution and fulfillment services, it is very beneficial to find a provider who can access multiple methods and mode options.

Having a strong partner that can shift gears and offer additional service options and more than one drayage service makes it so shippers do not need to worry as much about the finer details of the shipping and transportation process. Contact Port City Logistics today to learn more and to see how improving drayage fulfillment strategies can help your company here in 2022 and for years to come.

Topics: drayage services