Screen Printing - June/July 2019 - 28
Of course, that doesn't work with
all orders, as anything with polyester
content would need to be completely cooled.
But, you can see the elegant simplicity of touching
the shirts once instead of folding them and moving the
process off to another department.
Other shops have automated machines to handle those
tasks. Not every order has post-production needs, so if a
certain number of your orders do, it's better to stage them
separately in a different area.
My advice is to look for specific bottlenecks. Where are
things backing up? Can you do it another way? Every shop is
different - there are space, money, and labor considerations to
take into account. You need to find what works for your shop.
This is a special skill unto itself. Find the most organized
person on your team to help manage shipping. It can be a
nightmare. If you're lucky, each address on the list gets full
cases of shirts. But that's like expecting the peanut-buttered
side of the bread to land face up when dropped. It typically
doesn't happen that way.
Instead, the client probably wants a dozen shirts to go out
to 843 separate addresses, three of each in four sizes. Instead
of counting one, two, and then three for each size, have the
job caught at the end of the belt in groups of three. When
packing the job, simply grab that short stack of three shirts
from each of the four size piles. These are then placed into
the box and sealed.
Sometimes, every single shipment of that 843 address
order has different quantities. Ouch.
If you're using a spreadsheet, do things one at a time and
cross them off as you go. Be organized. Use a ruler or blank
sheet of paper to cover up the rows underneath what you're
fulfilling at the time.
It pays to count and double-check. If you feel there's even
a slight chance there was a mistake, count again. Don't let
your client discover the problem for you.
To me, anything that ships correctly
and on time is like scoring a touchdown for our team. If the order doesn't
ship correctly or is late, that's like driving the
length of the football field only to fumble the ball on
the one-yard line.
If you can, schedule all of your work to be completely
finished and ready to ship one business day before the ship
date. This gives your shipping team adequate time to do
Keep things organized. If you are drop shipping 843
packages to different addresses, you can preprint those labels
and have them ready when it comes time to box up the items.
This helps in keeping things from being mis-shipped.
If you have multiple packages that need to ship together,
but coming from different departments, be sure to have a
"ship with" purgatory area. Here's where you can store
completed items while you're waiting for the rest of the
shipment to be prepared.
For cost-cutting exercises that still offer a high level
of service, look into using services like UPS SurePost
or FedEx SmartPost if you're sending out e-commerce
The three most important shipping considerations:
n Packaging size and weight It's all about the dimensional
weight these days. Examine the difference between the
size and weight of your smallest, lightest box/package
to your largest, heaviest box/package. Work with your
shipper to determine the right choice.
n Shipping destinations Domestic only? International?
What do you need to know to ship to another country?
Make sure you have a good understanding of the rules.
n Options for shipping What are the best services or
carriers for your needs?
You need a strong leader if you're handling a lot of postproduction work. Someone needs to oversee the action and
ensure things are happening correctly.
Build your processes. Schedule the work. Train your crew.
Set clear expectations on what has to happen. Better
results are achieved when everyone knows the rules and
understands how to achieve success, together.
Marshall Atkinson is the owner of Atkinson Consulting, LLC, based in
Mesa, Arizona. He coaches apparel decoration companies on operational efficiency, continuous improvement, workflow strategy, business planning, employee motivation, management, and sustainability.
He is a frequent tradeshow speaker, author, and host of two podcasts,
as well as co-founder of the Shirt Lab educational company. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screen Printing - June/July 2019
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