Smart Warehousing Jul 15, 2021 1:50:59 PM 9 min read

6 Qualities to Look for in a Food Warehouse & Fulfillment Partner

The Coronavirus pandemic was a catalyst for many things, such as contactless payment, the casualization of clothing, and ultimately the acceleration of e-commerce. In 2021, ecommerce sales are expected to account for 18% of retail sales worldwide and makeup a whopping 22% of retail sales worldwide by 2023.

Included in this was the growth of food and beverage ecommerce. Online grocery sales grew by 54% in 2020, propelling the online food and beverage industry to a 12% share of total US ecommerce sales and 7.4% of all grocery sales. The increase in food and beverage online order volume also increases the immediate need for high quality food warehouse and fulfillment partners.

The right food and beverage warehouse and fulfillment partner is more critical than ever with one- and two-day shipping expectations, rising shipping costs, and online order volumes through the roof. With so much on the line, it can be difficult to make a confident decision on which food and beverage warehouse and fulfillment partner is right for you. We recommend looking for a food warehouse and fulfillment partner with the following six qualities:

1. Omnichannel Capabilities

In today’s market, consumer expectations are higher than ever, and delivering the customer promise “right product, right place, right time” may be what stands in between a repeat customer and one that chooses to shop with your competitor. Omnichannel fulfillment ensures that all your fulfillment channels process orders smoothly.

Smart Warehousing partners with over 200 software integrations companies allowing you to fulfill your food and beverage products through business-to-business (B2B), retail, and e-commerce fulfillment channels from the same location, saving you money and improving efficiency.

2. Cold Chain Fulfillment

Modern consumers expect to receive their food and beverage orders within two days, and that will likely be replaced with one-day expectations in the near future.

The average order fee is $5 with shipping costs averaging about $30 depending on the size of the box and the amount of dry ice needed, which increases the weight of the box by that much more. Because of this, it is critical that 3PLs have multiple fulfillment sites for packages allowing them to hit your doorstep within two days or less.

Having locations in two-day delivery zones helps drive down the shipping cost, making you happy with the cost savings, but ultimately making the consumer happy with the speed of service.

Smart Warehousing’s national footprint offers customers 1-2-day temperature-controlled and cold chain shipping to 98% of the United States.

3. Inventory Management

An incredible 40% of food loss happens at the supply chain level before it ever hits the consumer largely because the food was stored or transported incorrectly.

Too many fulfillment companies operate solely on a first-in, first-out basis even if that does not benefit their food and beverage customers. Smart Warehousing, on the other hand, also fulfills lot control orders based on the expiration date.

Our first-expired, first-out methodology gives you the best chance to fulfill all temperature-controlled and frozen product orders without waste.

Smart Warehousing has over 1 million square feet of cold storage space, processes perishables on a first-expired, first-out system, and has a 99.2% on-time shipment rate.

4. Strategic Food Warehouse Locations

It takes space, people, and resources to store and fulfill temperature-controlled and frozen food orders. GlobeSt. reports on the short supply of US cold storage space:

“Nationally, the industrial segment has a historically low vacancy of 10%. Adding more supply isn’t as easy as development warehouse space. This is a specialty asset, and it costs twice as much as warehouse space to develop. A cold storage or freezer facility costs $130 to $180 per square foot to develop, while a traditional warehouse space only costs $70 to $90 per square foot to develop.”

Smart Warehousing has over 1 million square feet of cold storage space across the U.S. in Nevada, Kansas, and Philadelphia, positioning us to fulfill frozen, ambient, and everything in between.

5. Experience

Cold chain fulfillment for food and beverages is a niche market. When looking for a food warehouse and fulfillment partner, experience provides you with the comfort and confidence in the consumer’s overall online shopping experience.

Smart Warehousing has been fulfilling orders long before the e-commerce boom. Established in 2001, we have 20 years of food and beverage fulfillment experience more than most of our industry competitors. We know how to work with multiple fulfillment channels and deliver the results that keep your customers happy.

In addition, all your fulfillment is completed in-house without the need for outsourcing talent or leasing warehouse space. At Smart, we like to call this “Our People. Our Promise.”

6. Proper Warehouse Conditions

You want to ensure that your food and beverage products are being stored in a clean and well-maintained space to help avoid product recalls and make sure you’re delivering the highest quality product to your customers. Food contamination during the supply chain journey can have severe consequences for consumers. The cost of which can cripple profitability and shareholder confidence.

These same companies rely heavily on 3PL providers to maintain safe handling and shipping practices while products are in their care.

Each year, Smart Warehousing’s food grade facilities are audited by the American Institute of Baking, or AIB, to ensure we are meeting the standard for our food and beverage customers.

Choose a Trustworthy Food Warehouse and Fulfillment Partner

 Finding a 3PL you feel confident in for your food warehousing and fulfillment is no easy task. Luckily, Smart Warehousing makes it easy with a national frozen footprint, industry-leading service and years of food and beverage experience.

Contact us today to learn more about our warehousing capabilities and how we can support your business as your trusted food and beverage warehousing and fulfillment partner.

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