Mailing & Fulfillment Special Report — Getting Started In Fulfillment
Think high and don’t be afraid to think about large footprints for the building in the beginning. Once you get started in the fulfillment business, you will find it is quite easy to quickly get up to 1,000 pallets. A good migration strategy is to find a local developer of office/warehouse space with excess inventory of space.
This developer will be more than glad to provide additional and temporary space for you in the future. See the accompanying diagram of an excellent startup 17,500-square-foot facility that had the potential to provide up to $2 million in revenues. Note on the diagram the number of dock doors (four), the material flow, the lighting in the aisles, the space for handwork, and the accessibility of telephones, computers and electrical outlets.
These factors are all important to the successful operation of the fulfillment center. Remember to “think high” when researching fulfillment facilities.
Step 4: Equipment. The machinery requirements for a fulfillment operation are as follows: pallet racking and shelving, forklift, electric pallet jack, pallet jacks, hand trucks, picking carts, counting scales, floor scale, pallet wrapper, computer workstations, shipping workstation, receiving workstation, hand pallet strapper, work tables, and several sections of adjustable and expandable conveyors.
Based on individual needs, you may also need a dock plate for receiving. Your individual applications, such as large point-of-purchase materials, may require specific equipment. Most of this equipment can be purchased second hand, with out fear of premature failure.
It is important to start simple and master the basics of warehousing and inventory control with the basic tools of the trade before proceeding into something more sophisticated, such as pick to light or RF. A startup approach that keeps things simple and efficient has always worked in the past.
Step 5: Supplies. These are as follows: packaging materials and tape, boxes, pallets, cleaning supplies, strapping materials and specialized shipping containers for special applications.