Takeaways From My First 90 Days in Fulfillment

Craig Freeman
Outside of the IDS Fulfillment Center

Before diving into this blog post, let me give you some brief perspective. Prior to August 2021, I had not stepped foot into a warehouse. The first warehouse I “worked in” was a single-day project, moving some product for a nonprofit I was helping. Hardly an expert, by any meaning of the word. So when I came on board with IDS in November of 2022, I knew I had much to learn. I’ve spent the last 90 days soaking up as much information about fulfillment as possible, here are some key takeaways.


#1: “We are not rocket scientists, we are just shipping packages.” While I knew this to be true from day 1, it is easy to get caught up in all the intricacies of a new job, especially in a new industry. With all the new abbreviations and lingo, the first few weeks, I would get off a call and have to go to my boss with a list of words and ask for them in plain English. At the end of the day, though, the above advice rang true. While we seek to optimize our processes and be on the bleeding edge of all technology to drive cost savings and increase customer satisfaction, there is no need to overcomplicate things. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the simplified end goal.


#2 You’ve got to know the ins and outs of a service to sell it. Okay, despite my lack of direct experience in warehouses, I have always been interested in the supply chain. What does it take for a product to get from point A to point Z? But truthfully, I never even knew how much work went into even a single order, from when it was placed to when it was shipped. Customer service, inbound receiving, storage, restocking pick faces, picking the items, auditing the orders, packing the orders, shipping, and labeling the orders. And these are just the table stakes! But why do I, a marketing person, need to know this? Why can’t I just take a picture of some boxes on a conveyer belt or a video of a package being taped shut and call it a day? Because it is either us or them doing it. Working through the process myself has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the pain points that our clients experienced. The reasons they came to us. These are the same reasons our next prospective client will partner with us.


#3 The pie is big enough for everyone to get a piece and sometimes even serve each other. When I was initially told I was going to go to a conference full of competitors, I was confused. Why would they send me to a class of people doing the same thing we were? Then, when I got there, the people who had been to the conference before acted like they had just walked into a family reunion. While talking with the people next to me, we eventually discovered we had different focuses, strengths, and goals. Prospective ompanies I had previously encountered that were not a good fit for us were a perfect fit for the guy next to me, and the same in contrast. Making these connections, and explaining our goals and strengths, while also learning about others grew our reach at a similar rate of even our best-performing advertisement.


#4 Know what you’re good at, then find someone to compliment your abilities. This was a reoccurring theme throughout my time with IDS. Our customers have decided large amounts of money to develop their products, catalogs, brands, and marketing strategies. They became successful through their expertise with these things. Then they were supposed to maintain that expertise and switch to learning and scaling their knowledge of fulfillment and distribution? While it is possible, with the right talent, time, dedication and a whole variety of other factors, it is easier to find a company that is already proficient in those areas. This is the same reason I am able to write this article in the first place, I am fitting a role that was not a strong suit beforehand. And I did the same thing, I found an agency with the knowledge and time to complement my efforts.  Whether you call it spreading yourself too thin, biting off more than you can chew, or something else, it is crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses and find someone or something to pick up that slack. The yin to your yang!


Even though these examples are fulfillment specific, I believe no matter what industry or job you’re in, whether you’ve been there one day, 90 days, or even 9000 days, you can apply these same lessons to gain or refresh your perspective.

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