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Optimize Cross-Docking Logistics with Zone Skipping

May 9, 2023 | Logistics Industry

A Strategy to Streamline Your International Supply Chain

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive environment, companies across the U.S. must find new ways to optimize their supply chain operations to stay ahead of the curve. As the famous saying goes, “time is money,” which has never been more true regarding logistics.

Many companies have turned to cross-docking to keep the supply chain process as affordable and efficient as possible. In this increasingly popular logistics strategy, incoming goods are sorted and transferred directly into outgoing shipments without needing storage in a warehouse. This process has helped to reduce inventory, labour and warehousing costs significantly. 

However, despite these benefits, traditional cross-docking does not come without challenges. Beyond the complexities of managing multiple shipments and coordinating different carriers, it can be inefficient and costly due to the need to process and store items in predetermined zones.

This is where zone skipping comes in. This innovative approach can be used by companies to optimize their cross-docking logistics, lower transportation costs, and ultimately enhance customer satisfaction. 

Keep reading to learn about zone skipping, how it works, and the many benefits it can offer your business.

What is Zone Skipping?

Zone skipping is a cross-docking method consolidating multiple orders at strategic points along the transportation route. The idea stems from the concept of grouping shipments by destination rather than by source. 

By strategically grouping shipments, zone skipping reduces the number of stops and handling operations required to transport goods from the supplier to the end customer.

The Zone Skipping Process

To implement zone skipping, optimal consolidation points, or zones, must be identified based on factors such as shipment volume, supplier location, and consumer demand. This requires detailed data analysis and mapping of the supply chain network using advanced technology and software tools.

Once shipments are consolidated, they are transported to a warehouse for cross-docking. During cross-docking, shipments are sorted and loaded onto delivery vehicles for final delivery to the end customer. The process is repeated for each zone, with shipments consolidated and transported in batches, enabling faster and more efficient delivery.

Quality control measures are implemented to ensure that shipments are correctly sorted and meet customers’ expectations for quality and delivery times. This includes working with suppliers and carriers to ensure seamless coordination within the supply chain. 

Throughout this process, businesses can continuously monitor and evaluate their logistics performance to identify areas for further improvement and optimization.

Learn more about McKenna’s cross-docking services. 

When To Use Zone Skipping

Many companies looking to streamline their logistics and fulfillment operations, including those with time-sensitive, high-volume shipments and complex supply chain networks, can benefit from zone skipping. It’s particularly beneficial for companies that operate in the eCommerce, retail and consumer goods industries.

For example, if you are a company based in the US and looking to ship your products internationally to customers across Canada, this method is for you. Instead of moving goods from one distribution center to another, companies can bypass certain geographic areas to avoid unnecessary transportation costs. 

Benefits of Zone Skipping

Zone skipping offers numerous advantages for companies looking to streamline their cross-docking operations. Key benefits include:

Cost Savings

Zone skipping can help businesses save on transportation costs by consolidating multiple shipments and reducing the number of carriers involved. This can also result in lower fuel costs and fewer handling fees.

Faster Delivery Times

By skipping intermediate distribution centers, companies can shorten their transit times and improve delivery performance. This can help them adapt to meet customer expectations and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Increased Efficiency

Zone skipping can streamline the supply chain process by reducing the number of touchpoints and the time required to move goods from one location to another. This can result in fewer errors, less paperwork, and smoother operations.

Improved Consumer Satisfaction

By delivering products faster and more reliably, businesses will have happier customers, reduce complaints, and encourage repeat sales.

Enhanced Inventory Management

Zone skipping can help companies to reduce their inventory holding costs by minimizing the time products spend in transit and increasing their forecasting accuracy.

Greater supply chain flexibility

By consolidating shipments at strategic points, zone skipping enables companies to respond more quickly to changes in customer demand, supplier availability, and transportation capacity.

Implement Zone Skipping into Your Logistics Strategy with a Trusted 3PL

Zone skipping requires a thorough understanding of your supply chain operations and a significant investment in technology and infrastructure, which may not be feasible for many companies on their own. In addition, it requires careful planning and coordination that can take away from time spent focusing on your business. 

With McKenna’s Optimized Zone Skipping®, US companies can rely on our third-party logistics for the expertise, resources and access to specially-chosen carriers, to navigate shipping to Canada successfully. There’s no need to worry about transportation routes or the quality of your order fulfillment when you work with us. 

Companies can pre-pick and pack orders in their distribution centers, consolidate them and transfer them to our facilities. From there, we cross-dock them and ship them in the appropriate mode, such as parcel, less-than-truckload, air or rail, depending on your specific cost and time requirements. 

Contact us today to discover how partnering with McKenna can transform your business’s cross-docking logistics!

Importing to Canada?

We serve all of Canada and we understand the unique Canadian logistics market

Looking for a Better 3PL?

Discover McKenna’s commitment to accuracy and timeliness

Ready to Grow Your Business?

If you’re getting started with mass retailers, we can help