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7 Ways Fulfillment Centers Help Sell More Products

In a highly competitive market where customers expect to receive online orders with same-day or next-day shipping, fulfillment centers have become a smart solution for lowering costs. Both small startups and giant corporations can benefit from outsourcing shipping and handling to a quality fulfillment center. The center can take over the logistics of storing, labeling, sorting, packaging, and shipping your company’s inventory. Here are seven ways fulfillment centers can help your business sell more products and reach a broader base of customers.

1. Add new sales channels

Most small businesses start with a sales channel that delivers products directly to the customer from the store. Although less expensive, this practice is extremely limiting to businesses. It is difficult to grow the company and expand into new markets if the product must be stored in short supply at the business’ premises. However, a fulfillment center allows your business to enter the E-commerce market and reach broader customer demographics. To increase profit margins and to sell more products, your business must add new sales channels. Fulfillment centers are the most cost-effective strategy for increasing your customer base.

2. Protect against market fluctuations

As in almost any industry, prices are subject to dramatic increases and decreases. Fulfillment centers are a buffer against the market fluctuations that might otherwise harm your business. By storing a portion of your product in one of its warehouses, fulfillment centers can meet fluctuating consumer demand. Fulfillment centers are also experienced in the industry and can help new businesses plan ahead. Preparing for market fluctuations, which can occur at any time of the year, gives your business an edge over competitors and protection against profit loss. During times of peak demand, shipping costs will skyrocket for individual businesses. However, a fulfillment center can hold prices at a steady rate regardless of increased or decreased demand.

3. Grow your business

For small startups, entering the online retail market or expanding from regional to national can be extraordinarily difficult. Shareholders may hesitate to take on an increased risk of bankruptcy and prevent startups from becoming successful national or even global companies. Fulfillment centers allow businesses to access a wider base of consumers and retailers who are eager to support your products. By controlling the shipping, handling, and other additional logistics for your online and brick-and-mortar store, fulfillment centers can help your business grow exponentially.

4. Handle new inventory

Fulfillment centers have access to a wide pool of resources that can efficiently label and process your inventory. Updates are made in real time to meet consumer demand. A quality fulfillment center is also capable of handling customer returns and exchanges that might stymie a smaller company. By letting a fulfillment center handle complicated shipping logistics, you can focus on growing your business and satisfying customers. Outsourcing to a fulfillment center can help you efficiently distribute new products to an expanded customer base.

5. Create loyal customers

Instead of stretching your company thin to meet the demand for fast shipping and the cost of expensive storage units, hire a fulfillment center to free up more of your time. With this headache taken care of, you can focus your efforts toward developing a brand identity that connects with customers. Fulfillment centers help you retain the integrity of your services and products in a way that can impress customers. By quickly meeting shipping deadlines and processing returns and exchanges, you will satisfy consumers and create a loyal customer base. Sending customers a damaged product or the wrong item can harm your company’s reputation and prevent you from reaching new customers. A fulfillment center can keep up with shipping demand and cost with experienced methods for sorting, packaging, and sending your company’s products.

6. Reduce shipping costs

A fulfillment center can provide cheaper shipping rates to your business than if you tried to send products on your own. Since your products can be shipped faster at a lower cost, you can expand into new markets, sell more products, and earn more profit. With the money left over, your company can innovate new products, make investments, or hire additional employees. Reduced shipping costs help your business expand from national to international. With the help of a fulfillment center, the world is your company’s oyster.

7. Meet customer expectations

In the past, customers expected items to arrive at their doorstep in one to two weeks and were satisfied with this timing. Since industry giants such as Amazon have popularized same-day and two-day shipping, customers are expecting products to arrive faster than ever. When a customer sends an item back for a return or an exchange, they expect to receive a refund or a new product within days. Many customers will become anxious if a product seems to be taking too long to ship, especially if they have ordered from a new company whose reputation they are uncertain about. A customer may take to social media to complain about your company’s slow shipping which could dissuade other consumers from shopping at your business. Avoid these brand management crises with a fulfillment center that is equipped to ship products within days and include the proper tracking information to customers.

At KION North America, we are innovating the strategies and technology that will help businesses expand into new markets and reach more customers. With our high-quality Linde and Baoli forklift lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic, companies have the tools required for maximizing both productivity and profits. For more information about how our forklift models can revolutionize your warehouse operations, contact our expert team at (843) 875-8000.

Top Forklift Models and Why You Need Them

Although forklifts have been a staple in the material handling and logistics industry for over a century, the models on today’s market offer dramatic improvements in safety, carrying capacity, and fuel economy. With so many forklift models to choose from, it can be difficult and time consuming to decide which equipment is right for your facility. Linde, Baoli, and Dematic offer material handling equipment and supply chain solutions that can help your business increase its productivity and profitability.

Linde

A pioneer in technology and manufacturing, Linde has provided transportation and handling equipment for over 150 years. With its impressive history and reputation, it’s not surprising that Linde continues to provide outstanding machinery. Their electric truck models can easily navigate narrow aisles while the internal combustion counterbalanced pneumatic truck models boast unrivalled controllability. Linde’s quality models are durable and present a lower maintenance cost for managers.

Baoli

An internationally recognized brand, Baoli appeals to the economy segment with cost-effective, high quality forklifts. The forklifts can be purchased with diesel, electric, or LPG engines with load capacities ranging from 3,500 to 7,000 lbs. For the budget-conscious manager, the electric counterbalance sit-down truck provides comfort and an energy-efficient design. The internal combustion counterbalanced cushion tire truck exceeds the fuel efficiency standard for economy segment trucks. KION provides unmatched product support and a standard warranty.

Dematic

With its cutting-edge line of Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Dematic is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. The robots, which are autonomous and fully mobile, can boost warehouse productivity and efficiency. With the ability to reduce product damage, AGVs can help your warehouse become more profitable and respond to labor challenges. Dematic AGVs are available in Standard, Hybrid/Series/Dual-Use, and Custom models for the tech-savvy warehouse. The Hybrid/Series/Dual-Use model begins as a manually operated Series vehicle from KION. Dematic adds a full automation pack to the vehicle that allows it to operate manually or as a top-of-the-line AGV.

KION North America is leading the industry by providing innovative forklift models that help businesses become more productive and more profitable. To learn more about our technologically advanced models, check out our Linde and Baoli forklift lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic,

Linde at Work: Southeast Wood Treating

Since 1979, Southeast Wood Treating has been the industry leader when it comes manufacturing and distribution of treated outdoor wood products. The began as a family-owned, local pressure treating company in the small town of Louisville, Alabama and today is one of the largest producers of pressure treated lumber in the United States.

Southeast Wood Treating began using several different models of Linde brand hydrostatic forklifts nearly 20 years ago. In our experience, equipment from other brands that we’ve had would have to be traded in between 9,000 and 15,000 operating hours,” said Richard Queen, human resources director.  “Our Linde units have logged upwards of 20,000-25,000 hours before needing to be replaced.”

In 2014, the company purchased 16 new Linde Series 396 forklifts from their authorized KION North America dealer Springer Equipment Company. “With greater productivity, we have had greater efficiency and lower operating costs as well as lower manpower costs,” said Queen. “The bottom line is that we handle more lumber with fewer lifts and fewer people by using Linde forklifts.”

The Linde Series 396 and the brand’s other hydrostatic drive forklifts offer some of the lowest maintenance and operating costs on the market thanks to extended maintenance intervals and lack of mechanical wear components like service brakes or a torque converter transmission. Other efficiency features include low fuel consumption and low tire wear, which financially have positive impacts on a company’s bottom line.

Has your company benefited from using a Linde (or Baoli) forklift? We’d love to hear about it. Submit your photos of our trucks at work to marketing.na(at)kiongroup.com.

Where to Recycle Pallets

Although pallets are essential for warehouse management, some businesses struggle with regularly disposing of them. Pallets can accumulate in storage rooms or outdoors, presenting an occupational hazard and a waste of valuable space. Here are four methods for recycling pallets and clearing out the back room once and for all.

Contact the shipper

One of the easiest strategies for disposal is to contact the shipper to pick up empty pallets. If you can’t contact the shipper directly, you can arrange for pallet disposal with a third-party company such as CHEP or PECO. Pallet retrieval is a mutually beneficial arrangement since it clears unwanted pallets from your shipping deck while lowering the cost per trip for shippers.

Find a local recycling company

You may be able to find a local recycling company who is willing to come and retrieve your used pallets. Depending on the size and condition of pallets, a local recycling company can either pay you for desirable pallets or charge a fee for picking up undesirable ones. A benefit of a local company is that they can usually schedule regular removals that save your business the time of finding a new disposal service.

Reach out to hobbyists

Hobbyists interested in clean and unweathered wooden pallets for craft projects are often willing to take unwanted pallets away for free, but there are a few legal and health risks to consider. If a member of the public is wandering around your warehouse, you will need an employee to provide oversight and hopefully prevent any accidents. If someone is injured while on your premises or as a result of your pallet, you may find yourself tangled in legal difficulties. Managers should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of reaching out to hobbyists.

Prevention

One method of solving the logistics of wooden pallet disposal is switching to a more durable material. Heavy duty wooden or plastic pallets require less maintenance and repairs and can still be recycled when needed. Corrugated paper pallets can be recycled with other cardboard materials and are easier to dispose of than their wooden counterparts. Large companies such as IKEA have recently replaced their wooden pallets with corrugated paper, eliminating a significant logistics problem.

KION North America’s line of Linde and Baoli forklifts can help your warehouse manage inventory more efficiently. Visit our website or contact us at (843) 875-8000 for personalized service and more information about our products.

Product Spotlight: Baoli KBG25C

Released in October, Baoli KBG25C is the first internal combustion, LPG-powered forklift to be made available in North America from the Baoli product line that is equipped with non-treaded cushion tires. With a load capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, this forklift is among the top of its class in both efficiency and performance.

Performance

The Baoli KBG25C is designed for indoor, warehouse use and is an ideal choice for businesses that primarily operate LPG-powered equipment in their facilities. They are popular in freight forwarding applications and other warehouse environments that are not suitable for electric forklifts.

Built using quality components, the performance of this truck is outstanding. The proven IMPCO K25 LPG engine delivers 60 HP of power to more easily handle heavy loads. Depending on the requirements of your facility, this forklift is also available with either a triplex mast or simplex “trucker’s” mast (pictured).

Additionally, being able to work in tight spaces is vital in the North American market as many facilities have narrow aisles and dense floor-level storage. The Baoli KBG25C yields a tight turn radius allowing it to work in aisles as narrow as 13 feet. Along with the compact design, this forklift maximizes fuel efficiency with its innovative deceleration fuel shutoff—ultimately reducing operating costs.

Reliability

As with any piece of equipment, routine preventative maintenance is crucial to maximizing efficiency and performance. To help you get the most out of your investment, performing maintenance on the KBG25C has never been easier. The hood opens to a nearly 90-degree angle allowing the operator to easily access the engine. Removable floor plates and side panels give the operator access to a majority of the truck. Taking accessibility a step further, it also has dash access to the brake fluid. These features help save your business time when it comes to keeping up with maintenance and keep your business running smoothly.

Even though a truck has outstanding performance, it never hurts to have a good warranty you can rely on. All Baoli forklifts, including the KBG25C, are backed by KION North America’s standard 2-year warranty which covers standard equipment for the first year and unlimited hours, in addition to standard powertrain coverage for two years or 4,000 hours. An optional extended warranty for one additional year or 2,000 hours can be purchased.

Whether needed for routine maintenance or repair, one of the worst things that can happen to a company is when your equipment is inoperable while you are waiting for spare parts to arrive. However, Baoli brand equipment is fully integrated into KION North America’s supply chain and service system. The company’s South Carolina-based warehouse is stocked with a variety of spare parts and with a network of authorized dealers throughout the United States, this makes delivery possible within 24 hours.

Safety and Comfort

Like the comparable electric version of this truck, the Baoli KBG25C is equipped with a host of standard comfort features at no extra cost including a tilt steering column and a comfort suspension seat making it comfortable for any size operator. Work assist features on this model include LED work lights and a rear pillar assist handle with horn.

The Baoli KBG25C isn’t only comfortable to operate, but is also one of the safest trucks in its class. An amber warning light and forward facing twin LED spotlights are mounted to the overhead guard. Combined with a backup alarm and travel speed reduction, the standard safety features will make your workplace a safer environment for everyone. Additional safety options available include a rear-facing blue spotlight, road lights (brake, reverse and turn signals), fire extinguisher and Baoli safety orange paint (pictured).

If you are looking for a quality LPG-powered forklift without breaking the bank, the Baoli KBG25C could be a great fit for your operation. For more information or to request a demo contact your authorized local dealer today.

5 Important Tips for Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouses often manage thousands of dollars worth of inventory that must be sent and received under tight deadlines. To ensure maximum efficiency, inventory must be labeled, sorted, and retrieved with speed and accuracy. An unproductive warehouse can damage customer or business relationships by wasting time and money. Thrive in today’s highly competitive environment with these five tips for warehouse efficiency.

Stay organized

Organization is key to smooth warehouse operations. A large team of employees managing a wide variety of inventory can quickly become disjointed if managers aren’t careful. Labeling all inventory is the first step of organization. Forgotten or lost items are wasting money and storage space if they cannot be easily located. All inventory should be organized in a way that is understood by employees and safe to access. When scheduling shifts, give employees half an hour at the end of their day to clean up and finish order processing before leaving. This helps your warehouse stay organized and keeps workers on the next shift from becoming confused.

Prioritize high volume inventory

Top-selling items should always be located near the front of the warehouse and within easy reach of the picking team. If a new item becomes a top seller, make sure your team is aware of its location to save time searching through the warehouse. Consider storing less popular items toward the back and relocating them if performance continues to diminish. Color coding orders or pick lists to reflect high- or low-volume inventory can help employees quickly locate and package the materials that are valuable to customers.

Train managers in quality control

If a customer receives the wrong item, it could potentially damage your business’ reputation and can cost time and money fixing. Quality control is a safety net that all managers should practice. Double-check all orders by comparing the picked item’s SKU number and quantity against the order the customer placed. Quality control also involves evaluating the item for damage to make sure the customer receives an order in the expected condition.

Utilize technology

Radio-frequency identification tracking has become integral to many warehouses. It allows you to digitally track all incoming and outgoing inventory while dramatically saving labor. Another option is voice-enabled technology that is incorporated into your warehouse management without any modifications to your WPS. Voice enablers improve inventory control and can be used in various operations including shipping, returns, and receiving. Other technology such as digital twins can help you manage your warehouse more efficiently and provide better customer service.

Designate a damages bin

To prevent damaged items from returning to shelves and accidentally getting sent out to a customer, make sure that employees have designated a section to dispose of damaged items. It is also important to make sure that this section is accessible to the managers or employees who are running quality control on inventory. The more simplified this process, the more quickly inventory can be checked and disposed of if needed.

The team at KION North America is helping businesses grow and operate more efficiently by providing warehouse managers with outstanding forklift models from our Linde and Baoli product lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic.

Baoli at Work: World Missionary Press

Last year, World Missionary Press purchased a Baoli KBET18 forklift from Balint/Ryder Handling Equipment to use in their printing operation located in New Paris, Indiana.

Founded in 1961, World Missionary Press is an interdenominational literature ministry producing topical Scripture booklets in more than 340 languages, plus Bible study booklets, New Testaments and salvation coloring books in a variety of languages. In their more than 55 years of operation, the company has produced more than 2 billion Scripture booklets.

“We needed a small forklift with four-way hydraulics that we could put our roll clamp on for moving and turning rolls of paper,” said Jerry Whitener, plant and facilities manager. “With the Baoli forklift, we are now able to pick up two rolls of paper at a time versus one with our previous forklift.”

Each wide roll of paper measures 12 miles long, weighs 1,500 pounds and prints the equivalent of the inside pages of 85,000 Scripture booklets.

Whitener added that the company had been in the market for a small, used forklift, but there were very few in the 3,000-3,500 pound capacity range equipped with the four-way hydraulics. “Those in good condition that we did find were easily in the $15,000 range,” he said. “For just a little more money, we were able to purchase a brand new Baoli.”

Powered by a 48-volt battery, the Baoli KBET18 provides excellent power and increased productivity. The energy-efficient design allows for continuous operation during day-to-day jobs, while the compact design allows for ease of maneuverability in narrow aisles.

Forklifts are not only an integral part of the company’s printing process, but are also used as part of their packaging and shipping process. Ten-pound boxes of Scripture booklets are stacked on skids and wrapped for shipment. According to their website, an average of 1.5 tons of literature leaves the World Missionary Press facility each working day.

Has your company benefited from using a Baoli (or Linde) forklift? We’d love to hear about it. Submit your photos of our trucks at work to marketing.na(at)kiongroup.com.

How to Invest in Material Handling Equipment

Although necessary for manufacturing and warehouse operations, material handling equipment can be expensive and overwhelming. However, taking the time to research equipment and choose the right investments can help your business grow exponentially. Your facility has individual needs and preferences that will determine the appropriate material handling equipment. Identifying the type of forklift and engine needed, purchasing from a reputable dealership, and strategizing your financial commitments will help you make the best investment.

Choose the type of forklift needed

In the material handling equipment market, there are many forklift models available. When choosing the best machine, you’ll want to consider the size, load capacity, and height limit. If you are operating indoor forklifts, choose machinery that is the right size for your facility. For example, if your warehouse has narrow aisles or tight spaces, you’ll want to invest in a forklift that can operate safely. When determining the load capacity for your forklifts, overestimate rather than underestimate to avoid a potential accident.

Pick an engine

Forklifts usually run on either an internal combustion or an electric engine. When determining which is right for your operations, first ask if the forklift will be operated inside a building or outdoors in the elements. Forklifts with electric engines are typically used indoors. The machines burn cleaner and run more quietly, making them better suited for operating in a busy, crowded environment. An electric counterbalanced forklift is energy efficient while an internal combustion truck has the advantage of lower maintenance expenses.

Purchase from a reputable dealership

Once you are confident in the type of forklift you need, you’ll have to decide who to purchase it from. You’ll want to choose an internationally recognized, experienced company with an excellent reputation. Next, verify that the machinery comes with a warranty that the dealer will honor. Most dealerships are willing to help you choose the right machine and ensure that the transaction runs smoothly.

Strategize financing

When adding new or used forklifts to your fleet, you have several financing options: purchase, lease, or buy in bulk. When purchasing a new forklift, you may be able to negotiate a monthly payment plan that fits in with your budget. To test out a machine or to hire one for a quick job, consider leasing a forklift from a reputable company. If you decide to buy a fleet of forklifts at wholesale price, you may save time and money. Selling outdated or unwanted machinery for extra funds can help you finance your next investment.

At KION North America, we provide high-quality forklifts at reasonable prices. Our widely acclaimed dealership network can help you invest in the material handling equipment that will save your warehouse time and money. Call (843) 875-8000 or visit our website to find the authorized dealer nearest you today.

Product Spotlight: Linde Series 1219

The Linde Series 1219 is one of the latest trucks released by KION North America. Introduced at ProMat last spring, this LPG-powered truck has a lift capacity ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 pounds and is offered in four different models. This forklift is best suited for outdoor environments including lumber, paper, agriculture, and general building materials applications.

Safety and Comfort

One way to ensure that you can prioritize workplace safety is by using a reliable and quality piece of equipment. The Linde Series 1219 features a low-mounted propane tank to give the operator an unobstructed rear view while a low dashboard and clear view mast help increase the driver’s all-around visibility.

In many cases, safety and performance features on equipment can often have negative implications on operator comfort. With the Linde Series 1219, that is not the case. The truck was designed to the highest ergonomic standards like all other Linde brand products. Operators benefit from features including a spacious cab and accessibility from both sides of the truck. It is also equipped with deck-mounted hydraulic controls, a suspension seat, and functional positioning of easy-actuation controls which together yield a low-stress working environment, allowing the operator to be 100 percent focused on his/her task at hand.

Performance and Reliability  

The Linde Series 1219 features advanced engine technology in the form of a fuel injected 2.5-liter high-torque engine. With its impressive performance, this truck is efficient in fuel consumption while also giving off low exhaust emissions. A rugged drive line enables the operator to maximize productivity while extended 500-hour maintenance intervals make this forklift one of the top in its class.

Quality components including an inching pedal, foot-operated parking brake and a responsive accelerator pedal allow the operator to have complete control of the truck at all times. The ergonomic layout of all the hydraulic functions allows for a high level of precision fingertip control and working performance. KION North America has such confidence in the quality of this Linde machine that it is backed by the company’s standard 2-year or 4,000-hour warranty. An extended warranty is available for purchase.

For more information or to request a demo of the Linde Series 1219 forklift contact your authorized local dealer today.

The Essential Forklift Safety Checklist

Every year, forklifts are involved in 11% of accidents and are responsible for 100,000 injuries worldwide according to OSHA Safety Management. Forklift safety is essential for protecting the health and well-being of your employees. Accidents also result in costly lawsuits that are damaging to your brand’s reputation. Here are five tips that you should always include in your routine safety checks.

Check protective gear

Although the specific standards for safety equipment may vary slightly depending on your employer, protective hard hats, glasses, and reflective clothing will likely be a part of your uniform. You should always refer to the official employee dress code since safety equipment such as face shields or gloves may also be part of the requirements.

Refer to safety guides

The safety guidebook for forklift use and the operator’s manual should always be accessible to employees. Managers should also be available to answer any questions regarding safety. Make sure that employees are up-to-date on the latest forklift technology and safety requirements. Although certification programs are available online for forklift operation, managers should also include a job-specific safety course for all new and existing employees.

Measure fluid levels and tire pressure

It is important to ensure that forklifts have enough battery fluid, water, and hydraulic fluid to operate safely at all times. When forklifts are driven in an industrial environment, there is also a risk of punctured tires. Since daily wear and tear can cause tires to deflate, measure the tire pressure and watch out for any slashes or nails.

Perform a visual inspection

Next, carefully look over the entire forklift for any cracks, leaks, or defects. If anything seems amiss, call someone to repair it. Ignoring a leak and operating the forklift isn’t worth the risk of injury to an employee. Don’t forget to check the overhead guard, lift chains and rollers, forks, mast assembly, and hydraulic cylinders at the start of each day. Finally, check the load-handling attachments to make sure they aren’t loose.

Evaluate safety equipment

After the visual inspection, you’ll want to examine the safety features in the forklift. Seatbelts should fasten securely and be free of any tears or fraying. You’ll also want to test the brakes, steering, horn, and front, tail, and brake lights. Any problems with the safety equipment could put the lives of your employees at risk.

At KION North America, we understand how important safety is to your operations. Discover how our lines of Linde and Baoli forklifts are the leading brands in safety and technology.