If your food or beverage product is sold at large retailers like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Walmart, you may have had the opportunity to participate in their popular coupon programs — catalogs, or multi-vendor mailers (MVM), sent out nationally to promote major product discounts.
Logistically, participation in MVMs means you must ship larger volumes of product and on tighter timelines to meet the increase in demand. Missing a deadline before a promotion can cause a negative domino effect on operations, sales and future promotions.
If you miss a delivery date at a main facility, the delivery to individual retail stores is also delayed and you risk the chance of having no product, or not enough product, on the shelves for ready buyers, missing out on sales opportunities.
Additionally, retailers such as Costco are stricter with MVM orders than normal deliveries. To remain compliant, shippers and carriers must pay extra attention to detail.
Here’s why these depots must be strict with their inbound orders:
- They do not store things onsite for an extended period. Most of the time, product is unloaded from a truck and out-bounded that same day or the next day for a retail store. Strict requirements help with quick turnaround at the depot itself, avoiding delays on their end.
- Pallets are put directly on store shelves. If a damaged pallet or case goes to a retail location it can poorly affect sales for the vendor. This means the product must be floor-ready upon receipt.
But don’t panic! There are a few key steps you can take with your logistics partners to make your next food or beverage product promotion go smoothly and maximize your sales potential. Tips include communicating with shippers, carriers, and third parties to come up with pre-mapped solutions and check points.
Advice for Meeting Costco Vendor and Other Retailer Requirements
Don’t Hold on to Orders
When you know there is an upcoming product promotion on the calendar, let your 3PL partner know in advance. Rather than sending large MVM purchase orders (POs) the week they need shipped, let your transportation provider get started on scheduling appointments and securing capacity ahead of time.
Even if PO information is sent gradually or with holes in information, having this in advance helps your 3PL provide the best possible service. This extra time could also afford you more flexibility with delivery dates since your 3PL will have time to negotiate schedules.
Do Test Runs with Your Warehouses
Confirm that your current configuration and wrapping is up to retailer standards by preforming a round-trip test run. This will help you find potential issues before they become problems. Confirming the integrity of your wrapping is the best way to avoid rejection concerns.
Preforming test runs can help you see:
- If your shrink wrap needs to move up in strength
- If you need more dunnage (air bags, foam, corrugated cardboard, molded plastic, blankets, etc.)
- If you need more load locks (straps, bars, lumbar, etc.)
- If you need a different loading pattern
Share Photos of Proper Packaging and Configurations
With no leniency on must arrive by dates (MABDs) you can’t risk the potential for order rejections. Provide your team members or partners that handle order packaging with clear specifications and instructions. This extra step will help ensure fewer rejections.
Providing detailed instructions enables your 3PL to catch issues before they occur. They will be able to quickly fix an issue – such as insufficient wrapping, wrong or damaged pallets, or even the condition of the trailer – because they will have more tools at their fingertips.
We suggest providing your 3PL with five digital pictures or diagrams of a perfect order:
- Dimensions and imagery of inside the trailer or truck
- Singular pallet with proper dimensions, stacking, and wrapping
- Row of product and dunnage
- Trailer halfway loaded with dunnage
- Trailer fully loaded with dunnage
Prep for Possible Rejections and Reworking
But alas, rejections could still occur. Your product could shift in transit and may need reworking, even if it was configured correctly and passed testing. If something is still rejected, having a plan in place for recovery is important. You can always redeliver but acting right away and being prepared for reworking is key.
Have carriers check product prior to delivering, in effort to avoid actual rejections and maintain order compliance. Setting up check points before delivery can especially help on long-haul or out-of-network shipments.
Have relationships in place with nearby facilities that can help rewrap or reconfigure an order so you can quickly fix and still deliver on time. Your 3PL partner can help make this possible with their network of connections. Additionally, many facilities have their own or suggested rework facilities nearby. It is worth finding and setting up accounts, processes, and pricing with them ahead of time to ensure rework can be done as soon as possible.
Have Open Communication
Allowing your 3PL to talk directly with your customers can also help increase efficiencies. If a driver is running late, your 3PL could call the receiving facility directly and provide an update on location and time. Giving them access eliminates multiple steps in the communication process and ensures that updates are as accurate and timely as possible.
Having all parties connected is crucial. If only one party knows the rules, you are creating more room for error or potential issues. Having everyone aware of consequences and process essentials will help things run smoothly and cut down on reaction time.
Applying these concepts of preparation and communication not just before your next promotion, but to other areas of your supply chain can be beneficial. Being able to consistently deliver on must arrive by dates (MABDs) and order quality standards will help your overall sales, as well as customer relationships, retention, and satisfaction.
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