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The Basics: Cross-docking

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

What Is Cross-Docking?

Essentially, cross-docking removes the “storage” link of the supply chain.

Products are unloaded from a truck or railroad car, sorted, and directly reloaded onto outbound trucks or rail cars to continue their journey. Products going to the same destination can easily be consolidated into fewer transport vehicles. Alternatively, large shipments can also be broken down into smaller groups for easier delivery. The end result in both scenarios is a leaner, more efficient supply chain.

Pre-Distribution vs. Post-Distribution Cross-Docking

Cross-docking can be broken down into two basic types: Pre-Distribution and Post-Distribution.

With Pre-Distribution, goods are unloaded, sorted, and repacked according to pre-determined distribution instructions. In other words, the customer is identified before the goods even leave the supplier.

In the Post-Distribution process, sorting is deferred until the proper facility and customers are chosen, based on demand. That means that goods may spend a little more time in the distribution or cross-docking facility, but retailers and suppliers benefit from the additional time to make smarter, more informed decisions about where to ship their goods based on in-store inventory, sales forecasts, and point of sale trends.

Cross-Docking Advantages

Overall, there are several main benefits to incorporating cross-docking into your retail supply chain. Because products are spending less (or no) time in the warehouse, inventory handling, and storage costs are greatly reduced.

Additionally, goods typically reach their final destination (i.e. the customer) much faster, giving the retailer a competitive edge.

Consider Incorporating CWI Logistics Into Your Supply Chain

Usually, goods that are most conducive to cross-docking are those that are in stable, consistent demand—usually high volume and fast-moving products.

A 3PL partner like CWI Logistics, however, has the ability and experience to handle oversized or complex items in multiple temperature environments, greatly expanding the services that a “typical” cross-docking operation can provide.

CWI’s cross-docking operations service all of Florida. If you’d like to reduce your inventory, streamline distribution, or reduce your overall supply chain costs, give us a call today.

Commercial Warehousing