What is cross-docking? Essentially, cross-docking removes the storage leg of the supply chain. Products are unloaded from trucks or vans, sorted, and directly reloaded onto outbound trucks or vans to continue their journey. Products going to the same destination can easily be consolidated into fewer transport vehicles. Conversely, 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.
Cross-docking can be further broken-down into two basic forms: Pre-Distribution and Post-Distribution. With Pre-Distribution cross-docking, 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 cross-docking location 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, informed decisions about where to ship their goods based on in-store inventory, sales forecasts and point of sale trends.
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.
Usually, goods that are most conducive to cross-docking are those that are in stable, consistent demand – usually high volume and fast moving.
Our intelligent supply chain solutions assist with data capture and sortation of goods with-in the cross-dock process.