What is a First Mile Sorting Centre?
A first mile sorting centre is a warehouse, distribution centre or fulfilment centre. It is where sellers store their goods until they are ready to be dispatched to their next destination.
In the world of e-commerce, when a business receives an order from a customer, the item associated with that order needs to be picked from the inventory, packed and then sent out for delivery. This initial step in the supply chain, from the point where the item is packaged to the moment it leaves the seller’s premises or the warehouse, is referred to as the “first mile”, because it’s the first step in the journey that the product takes from the seller to the buyer.
The “sorting centre” part of the term refers to a facility where these packaged items are categorised, typically based on parameters like destination, size, weight or the nature of the goods. The sorting process might involve manual labour, automated systems or a combination of both. When they are ready to be dispatched, the sorted packages are then loaded onto vehicles for transportation to the next stage in the supply chain. This is typically directly to customers or to a distribution centre if you are working with supply chain technology like Amazon FBA.
How do First Mile Sorting Centres Work?
First mile sorting centres work to ensure that your goods are being dispatched accurately and promptly for their onward journey. This process varies between first mile sorting centres, and they can be quite complex, so below we’ve detailed the steps all centres should follow to ensure they help increase efficiency and speed, reduce errors and improve the overall customer experience for your e-commerce brand.
The process begins when a first mile sorting centre receives goods from sellers or suppliers. This could include all kinds of items, from small packages to large appliances, which are destined to go to different locations.
Upon arrival at the first mile sorting centre, these goods are often initially sorted based on a preliminary set of parameters, such as the type of goods or their broad geographical destinations. The goods then undergo a more detailed sorting process, which may involve a combination of manual labour and automated systems. Typically packages are sorted based on attributes like their specific destination, size, weight and the nature of the goods.
Preparing for Dispatch
Once an order has been placed for the goods, they are prepared for dispatch. Modern first mile sorting centres will leverage automation at this stage to ensure they receive your orders directly to their centres and can start preparing for dispatch without needing manual instructions from the e-commerce business. For e-commerce businesses, this means you will be able to see when your sorting centre has received your order, what stage of the fulfilment process they are at and when the goods have been sent out to their next destination.
If you deliver direct to your customers, this process involves picking and packing your orders. At Delta Fulfilment, this part of the process can be tailored to your business, with custom packaging and inserts to ensure you deliver a true brand experience to your customers.
If you are an Amazon Seller, depending on the program you are part of, this involves grouping goods going to the same locations together, ensuring they meet all requirements for the Amazon program and loading them onto the appropriate vehicles.
Finally, the sorted and grouped goods are dispatched to their next destination, whether that be a distribution centre, a delivery hub, or directly to the customer.
What is First Mile Delivery?
First mile delivery refers to the beginning of the order fulfilment process, where goods are transported from the sellers to the first-mile sorting centre. It’s an incredibly important part of your supply chain process. It determines the flow of the delivery process and any minor disruption can impact the rest of the order fulfilment process.
The Power of Automation in First Mile Sorting & Delivery
The use of automation in first mile sorting centres makes it easy for e-commerce businesses to outsource their order fulfilment with minimal involvement in the day-to-day logistics operations. One of the most significant ways this is happening is through direct integrations with e-commerce platforms. These integrations allow first mile sorting centres to automatically receive detailed order information as soon as a customer places an order. Information such as the type of product, its weight, size, and destination address, is directly imported into the sorting centre’s system. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, which not only saves time but also reduces the chance of human error.
At Delta Fulfilment, our inventory and warehouse management system offer a huge range of e-commerce platform integrations, including popular platforms like Woocommerce and Shopify. Our systems can also track your inventory in real-time. This means that when your goods leave our fulfilment centres, your inventory levels are automatically updated, providing you with an accurate and up-to-date picture of your stock levels. With this accurate inventory tracking, you can optimise first mile logistics by ensuring timely deliveries to your first mile sorting centre so they can continue to sort and dispatch your goods.
The Importance of First Mile Sorting and Delivery
First mile sorting and delivery is one of the most important parts of the order fulfilment process, particularly for e-commerce businesses.
An inefficient first-mile delivery or sorting centre can negatively affect your order fulfilment process, directly impacting customer experience, reviews and profit margins. If you are dispatching your orders to a distribution centre, this can also impact your B2B relationships and future orders from the third-party marketplace.
A well-managed first mile can help reduce costs, improve delivery speed, and ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction. Ensuring you have a reliable fulfilment partner is the best way to ensure your first mile delivery and sorting process is working for your business rather than against it. At Delta Fulfilment, we pride ourselves on our honest, reliable and cost-effective order fulfilment services for e-commerce brands.
How First Mile Sorting Centres Elevate E-commerce Business Operations
First mile sorting centres are crucial in e-commerce logistics, from managing the initial stages of the order fulfilment process to supporting your business with inventory management. Partnering with a reliable fulfilment centre is crucial to maximise the benefits of first mile sorting and delivery.
If you’re looking for reliable, honest and cost-effective fulfilment partners to take care of your first-mile operations, we are ready to discuss your fulfilment requirements and how we can help support your e-commerce business. Simply fill in the form to get a quote and one of our friendly team will be in touch to chat with you about how we can help.