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How to Set Up an Efficient Shipping and Receiving Center

Despite the explosive growth of electronic communication, the volume of hard mail continues to rise – driven by consumers and businesses for the handling and processing of their mail. Managing a chain of communication efficiently and cost-effectively – especially in a large corporation – is critical for building customer relationships, reducing corporate waste, and capitalizing on market opportunity.

Done well, an efficient shipping and receiving center can affect any business bottom line and can be a significant cost center. However, leading corporations that are the expert in their own industries often don’t know where to begin when it comes to designing a world-class shipping and receiving, or mail center operations. As many enterprises weigh their options in attaining this goal, they turn to outsourcing as the most cost effective and efficient alternative.

According to mailstream leader Pitney Bowes, companies often choose to outsource their mail operations for two reasons: expense control and risk management. For many corporations, the cost for postage and overnight express carrier fees in a mid-size firm can surpass $7-8 million annually, with the costs rising exponentially for larger corporations. Minimizing risk means finding the best workers, staying current with regulatory changes, and using the best technology to gain savings and maximize efficiency. In some companies, mail center managers may compete with other departments within the same organization for qualified staff and budget dollars.

Outsourcing addresses these issues by supplying staff, management, technology and programs to assist corporations in meeting key objectives. Through consolidating jobs or tasks, improvement management, and introducing leading-edge technology, companies can achieve savings and speed up their processing. Other core functions that must be addressed include the day-to-day business procedures, hiring and training staff, implementing and maintaining networks, planning design layout, and implementing tracking tools.

An outsource company can address these issues, beginning by evaluating a company’s mail center, determining and introducing new strategies, evaluating progress, and developing a vision for what it means to possess a world-class shipping and receiving service. Leveraging the expertise of an outsource mail management system enables corporations to achieve higher standards in mail operations.

Physical Design and Layout

Some shipping and receiving centers have been designed by default – perhaps enlarged over time in response to enterprise growth, but rarely re-engineered with a focus on overall efficiency of performance. A professional outsource company works with corporations to determine if their mail operations area is fit for this purpose, and recommend changes that need to be made for long-range success. It’s vital that the movement of materials to, within, and between all facilities meets the same standards of inbound and outbound products. Considering factors such as width of hallways and floor plans assist companies in designing distribution runs for pickup and delivery that maximize turnaround of interoffice mail traveling within the same company building and to other company buildings.

Mail Flow

Managing the flow of mail is another key factor to developing an efficient shipping and receiving mail center. A productive mail center is able to differentiate between urgent and trivial mail using advanced processing techniques, and imaging and electronic message management. Timely and accurate movement of mail has a direct effect on order processing fulfillment, approval processes, cash flow, and overall communications efficiency. Automated systems assist corporations in retooling inefficient processes, which result in the high-quality management of correspondence mail and highly productive mail operation.

A heightened awareness of worldwide mail security has prompted the U.S. and major mailers and shippers to take decisive action to protect the integrity of the mail. A professional outsource company knows that making mail safe starts with close attention to process. Many companies have found it necessary to scrutinize mail and document security, as well as re-engineer their operations to improve safety. While these efforts help to increase security, it also results in an improvement in quality and efficiency of mail operations.

Creating a world-class shipping and receiving mail center requires in-depth knowledge and experience in the areas of administration, human resource, technology, logistics, and procedures that contribute to the overall mail center operation. Leveraging the knowledge of a professional outsource company, companies can make a confident investment which will reap value and business benefits far into the future.

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