Did you send a package in the mail during the holidays, only to see it delivered weeks, or even months, later?
That was a common scenario for distribution and fulfillment centers across the country as they dealt with a crush of online orders during the pandemic. Each distribution center became overwhelmed.
More distribution centers are being built as companies adjust to online ordering. These buildings often have hundreds of thousands of square feet for inventory, packages, and order fulfillment.
Have you ever wondered what really goes on in these massive buildings? Read on to learn how distribution centers work.
What Is a Distribution Center?
A distribution center is a place where inventory is stored or where goods are received and distributed.
What’s the difference between fulfillment distribution and distribution centers? Fulfillment centers offer more because they can ship directly to customers.
Think of Amazon’s FBA program, where a customer places an order for a product and they fulfill it. Dropshipping companies also specialize in order fulfillment.
Distribution centers may or may not be customer-centric. They are stopping points along the supply chain. A shipping company or the postal service has plenty of examples of distribution centers.
A package from California gets picked up in a shipping van. It’s then taken to one distribution center. The package gets put on a plane for the next stop in the journey.
It can go to several distribution centers before it’s put on a van for final delivery.
A warehouse is just a large building to store goods. The goods are stored on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
How a Distribution Center Works
The logistics behind distribution centers are nothing short of amazing. This is a general overview of what usually happens at a distribution center.
Inventory gets sent to a distribution center. The receiving crew takes the inventory and logs the goods. The goods get stored somewhere in the center.
How long the goods get stored depends on the center. In the case of a shipping distribution center, the turnaround is usually quick. Packages get sorted and loaded to the next destination within a day or two.
Distribution centers rely on technology to be efficient. The scale of the distribution center is large, so it’s necessary when tracking goods and packages.
Types of Distribution Center Jobs
Who works in a distribution center? Distribution center jobs fall into a few different categories. The first is receiving, followed by storage, and shipping. There’s a separate category for management and administrative jobs.
Job titles vary depending on the distribution center. A small distribution center might have the same workers perform receiving and shipping duties.
The Mysteries of Distribution Centers
The next time you order a product or think about an ecommerce business, you’ll think of distribution centers.
A distribution center serves as a critical point in the supply chain as your orders move from one stop to the next.
If you enjoyed learning about distribution centers, you’ll enjoy the other articles on this site. Be sure to check them out today!