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Frozen Food Fulfillment

What are the special considerations for an online retailer selling frozen food products online?

The frozen food order fulfillment process is made up of many steps, but there are two factors that apply to dealing with food products. First, the location you choose to store and pack your shipments needs to be food grade, which means it meets certain standards for cleanliness and pest control. The facility is periodically inspected to make sure those standards are upheld. Second, you need to consider if there are there any requirements related to the temperature in the order fulfilment facility that need to be considered while the products are stored and also when they are shipped.

From a storing and handling perspective, the main consideration is of course that the requirements for maintaining a food grade facility need to be adhered to where ever the food products are warehoused. Frozen food products will likely have expiration or best used by dates so it is important to manage the inventory to make sure product is still fresh and usable. The FIFO (first in first out) method of managing inventory generally makes the most sense for food products. Frozen products obviously need more care and temperature control during warehousing. Keeping frozen food very cold, and well, frozen is clearly important, but more subtle requirements such as controlling humidity and ambient temperature are also necessary factors to monitor and maintain.

Making the right preparations for shipping frozen food products is a challenge but it is not impossible. There are many sources for locating stock, or custom made packaging to be used when packing and shipping frozen food (or any other type of cold item for that matter). Cooler “Kits” that contain a styro foam cooler and snug fitting cardboard carton are most likely the best option and one can be found easily for most applications.  Items packed in the box, along with ice, frozen packs, or dry ice can be kept safely frozen for up to forty eight hours during shipping under a range of conditions (think hot summer and cold winter). It is obvious that some level of expedited delivery, preferably overnight needs to be used to make sure product gets delivered on time. However, keep in mind, UPS and FedEx offer Ground service that provides next day delivery to locations within a pretty good size range of where you may be shipping from. Sometimes there is no need to pay for overnight or even 2nd day delivery when ground service will suffice – the cost savings will be significant. Just check out your carrier’s service matrix to know for sure. You can use Supply Chain Software to make the carrier routing decisions easier.

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Categories: Order Fulfillment
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