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3 Things Retailers Should Ask Their Pallet Supplier

Kyle Eberlin

For retailers that need high volumes of pallets consistently and on deadline, getting the right pallets – and supplier – is particularly important. These three questions can help you vet potential pallet vendors.

Let’s be real. When it comes to the pallet procurement process, every retailer knows they need pallets, but no one wants to deal with them. Wooden pallets and suppliers vary widely, and selecting the right supplier can make a significant difference in your supply chain and your bottom line. For retailers that need high volumes of pallets consistently and on deadline, getting the right pallets – and supplier – is particularly important.

These three questions can help you vet potential pallet vendors:

1) Do they have full control over operations?

Put simply, working with a pallet recycler that has 100% control of their operations translates to maximum efficiency, seamless pickups and deliveries, and exceptional customer service for you and your company.

In the industry, this is known as an asset-based pallet supplier. An asset-based pallet provider owns all or most of the assets necessary to support a customer’s supply chain. This can include the warehouses, distribution centers, trucks and the pallets. Think about it, when you’re working with someone who owns their tractors and trailers, and has company drivers available when needed, they can easily respond to seasonal spikes in demand as well as the reduced cycle time requirements of online retailers.

[Do you know how much pallets affect your overall product costs?  See how making the switch to recycled pallets can give your business a competitive edge here.] 

We encourage savvy businesses to do their due diligence to understand what pallet providers can bring to their business and suggest touring pallet provider facilities to compare an asset-based operation with a brokered pallet supplier.

You want a pallet supplier who can ensure things like on-time deliveries and quickly respond to any issues that may pop up. Control over each step in the supply chain means you enjoy a higher level of productivity, responsiveness and service. Make sure to ask if your potential vendor is an asset-based pallet supplier.

2) How transparent is billing and reporting?

It’s no secret that inconsistent pallet counts and imprecise billing are typical pain points for retailers in our industry. As you’re vetting pallet suppliers, ask to see how invoicing and reporting works, and if they have an online customer portal.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that here at 48forty, we provide all of our customers with access to PalTrax, our industry-leading online account management system. It offers 24/7 access to invoices, bills of lading, order placing and pallet retrievals, and past activity.

PalTrax tracks and captures every customer transaction. You can even drill down for details like totals on your company’s pallet purchases by week, month, quarter, or by location. This includes details on the number of pallets purchased and type.

Additionally, if you sell cores to 48forty, your complete sales history is on PalTrax. See all you need to know on purchase dates, locations, the number of trailers, the number of pallets per load, how your pallets were graded, and ultimately how many were purchased by 48forty.

[There is no standardized, industry-approved nomenclature  for pallets. Here's what to consider to make sure a supplier's pallet specs will work for you.]

Retailers are busy. No one has time to go through reports or search for a bill of lading. PalTrax provides nearly any metric a customer needs, on demand. This digital “paper trail” offers your organization full transparency into your pallet purchases and sales.

Your company works to make it easy for consumers to buy products, manage orders and update accounts, right? Your pallet recycler should be investing in and using similar technologies.

3) Are they service-oriented?

Your pallet provider should be able to completely manage their customers’ supply chain and logistics needs. Make sure they have an extensive network that ensures supply when and where you need it. In a nutshell, look for a vendor that will help their customers:

  • Increase overall efficiency
  • Cut both hard and soft costs
  • Decrease errors
  • Mitigate risk
  • Meet deadlines

Ideally, you want to work with a pallet recycler that provides a customized suite of solutions that aligns with your goals. (Otherwise, you’re just getting standalone services that may not work well together.) And it goes without saying, make sure the company responds to emails, picks up the phone when you call, and has a reliable, quality team in place.

[The value of recycled pallets is on the rise. Here's how to make sure you're maximizing your income from pallet retrieval transactions.]

Additionally, ask about their process improvement systems. Look for a supplier that provides employees ongoing training; audits, monitors and enhances existing programs; and looks for opportunities to make corrective and preventive actions.

The Bottom Line

Retailers have specific pallet requirements and needs. It's worth repeating that choosing the right supplier can make a significant difference in your supply chain and your bottom line. Don't forget to ask these questions during your selection process so you get the right pallets and the right partner for the job.

Here at 48forty, we can customize a pallet management solution that works for you and your supply chain. To see how we can help, get in touch online or give us a call at 1-877-779-8577.

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kyle-eberlinKyle brings more than 30 years of industry experience to his role as Chief Operating Officer here at 48forty. He joined IFCO in 2008 and has served as General Manager Atlanta, East Region Operations Director and National Sales Director. Kyle earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Florida State University.