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Optimize Pickup Logistics with Building Products Logistics Software

It’s the middle of the morning at your building materials warehouse. Your delivery dashboard is showing mostly on-time deliveries with a few exceptions that you’ll want to check up on. Pallets are being moved, orders picked, and trucks loaded up for deliveries to job sites. All of a sudden, the phone rings—a contractor, one of your regular customers, says they need a rush order of lumber, and they’ll be at the warehouse to pick it up in 30 minutes. What comes next—whether it’s chaotic or smooth—depends entirely on the pickup logistics process you have in place. Building Products Logistics Software

Even if pickups are a big part of your business, that’s no guarantee that your current process is optimized. If customers who come by the store or warehouse to pick up their orders regularly find themselves waiting a while for associates to bring out their items or even struggling to find a spot in your parking lot because there’s a backlog of pickup orders, then the contractor in the hypothetical above is probably going to cause chaos. Warehouse associates might scramble to get the order picked and packed while other customers’ orders slip through the cracks—or the customer might be kept waiting while other orders get filled. Either way, any chance of efficiency pretty much goes out the window. 

Conversely, when you have an optimized pickup logistics process in place—and the building products logistics software to back it up—the scenario we’re describing can be smooth and headache free. 

What Is Pickup Logistics and Why Does It Matter?

From the customer’s perspective, pickup logistics sounds simple: place order, head to store/warehouse, receive order. But when you imagine the process from the other side it’s easy to see that it’s more complicated than that. Successful pickup logistics processes depend on complex processes going right:

  • Orders being placed need to be checked against inventory
  • Orders need to be scheduled based on store and warehouse capacity
  • Associates need to pick and pack orders at the right time to ensure they’re ready to go when the customer arrives
  • Customers need to receive notifications about their scheduled time and the status of their orders
  • Customers need to check in at the pickup site so associates can bring out their orders
  • Associates need to capture a record of the pickup so that the system can stay up to date

Sure, it’s not as much complexity as last mile delivery management—but it’s a process that’s complex enough to be worth optimizing. Not only does a more efficient process save time for store/warehouse associates (thereby reducing operational costs), it also improves the standing of your brand in the eyes of customers. 

Anyone buying building materials is going to have high standards for service, and those standards absolutely apply to pickup scenarios. If you can treat the customer pickup experience with the same level of care and attention that you pay to delivery operations, you can provide a great experience for your customers that boosts your brand and inspires repeat business. 

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What Are the Top Pickup Logistics Challenges for Building Materials Suppliers?

Like anything that involves keeping busy customers happy and well-stocked with whatever building supplies they happen to need, there are challenges to getting the pickup logistics process right. 

  • Capacity management: you don’t want traffic jams that throw your store and warehouse associates' lives into disarray, but if you don’t have a system that enables you to set limits on the number of orders you can fulfill per hour, you can wind up with exactly that. And of course, you’ll need to be able to keep schedules flexible enough to accommodate those who place rush orders and need to be able to pick them up immediately. 
  • Pickup visibility: Just like with deliveries, getting a complete picture of how your pickups are unfolding is paramount; you want to be able to see when each order needs to be ready for staging, when customers are arriving, and when new orders are coming in.
  • Capturing proof of pickup: Not just capturing proof of pickup, but automatically associating the proof with the correct order and capturing a photo and a timestamp is critical to avoiding chaos and confusion about what items actually left the warehouse once the day is over. 
  • Customer experience: Even though there’s no delivery component, customers expect an experience that’s in keeping with the rest of their interactions with your brand—that means finding a way to provide visibility and transparency throughout the entire process. 

As with last mile deliveries, your ability to overcome these challenges really comes down to finding building products logistics software that can empower you to boost efficiency while prioritizing customer needs. 

How to Optimize Customer Pickups with the Right Building Products Logistics Software

So how do you overcome those challenges and provide a pickup logistics experience that works for your customers, your associates, and your bottom line? Here are a few best practices for doing just that:

  • Enable capacity-aware self-scheduling: Your customers want to have control over their schedules, but you don’t want to risk huge traffic jams if everyone shows up at your store or warehouse at the same time. That’s why it’s so critical to have a system that automatically checks orders against capacity for any given time window. Based on your real-time capacity situation, you can offer customers a choice of pickup options. 
  • Make life easy for associates: Simply put, busy store and warehouse associates don’t have time to sit down at a desktop to check and see whether a particular customer has checked in yet or whether it’s time to prepare a particular order. If you can send notifications straight to apps right on their mobile phones, you can streamline their workflows and help them stay productive. 
  • Go all in on customer communications: Basically, you should treat your communications around pickups essentially the same way you treat them for deliveries—provide updates at the relevant moments (e.g. texts when an order is ready to be picked up or reminder notifications if the customer misses an appointment) so that customers can approach their entire experience with confidence. 
  • Automate data exchange between warehouse and pickup management solutions: Obviously, disruptions can occur when capacity is managed inefficiently—but they can also be caused by a lack of up-to-date information. There are few things more frustrating than driving all the way to a storefront to pick up an item that’s actually out of stock. That’s why you need a system that updates stock levels in real-time as orders are scheduled, fulfilled, and documented. 
  • Prioritize visibility at a glance: When it comes to deliveries, visibility is all about seeing the right data at the right time—without having to go hunting for it. With pickups, it’s exactly the same. As associates are carrying out tasks and updating the statuses of orders from their mobile devices, managers need to be able to gain a quick visual overview of the entire process from a single dashboard. This way, they can spot potential disruptions before they result in more serious delays for customers. 

All in all, getting pickup logistics right means treating it similarly to delivery—in other words, leveraging the right building products logistics software to make the process more connected and intelligent. If you can make that happen, you can put yourself in a position to keep your customers happy and earn their repeat business, whether they’re contractors looking for pipe, homeowners checking out new bathroom sinks, or anything in between. 

DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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