A major complaint of the operations team is that new marketing and merchandising initiatives don’t always work with the existing packaging supplies. To solve this problem, Wayne Teres, founder of Boston-based fulfillment consultancy Teres Consulting, recommends setting up an operations review in which one executive from marketing and one executive from operations meet to discuss the physical profile and subsequent packaging needs of every new product introduced. Any questions or problems that may arise from a customer service standpoint should also be discussed. Operations questions about new products may include the exact height and weight of the item, whether it needs protective cushioning or dunnage, and if a truck will need to be ordered because it is heavy enough to require a common carrier rather than a parcel carrier.
The review should also include a discussion of company history with products that are similar, says Teres. Someone might remember that the company had had breakage problems with similar products in the past, so a different kind of dunnage might be called for. Or, Teres explains, the operations department might need to know whether the new product will come in a decorative box. This information is important because additional decorative boxes will need to be ordered from the vendor so that returns could be repackaged.
The bottom line is to make marketing understand that new products often require adjustments in packaging and shipment. “The solution is trying to make marketing understand the impact of their decisions,” says Teres. “They’re not affected by the additional steps that need to be taken in the fulfillment center. The issue is operations not knowing what they’re going to be handling.”