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How Warehouses ARE LIKELY INVOLVED In Postponement

The aim of this essay is to clarify how the warehouse can are likely involved in postponement strategies. It starts with a brief description on the functions of the warehouse. After that it explains the concept of postponement strategy, the several types of postponement and the purpose of postponement. This article provides some circumstance studies on the role of the warehouse in postponement. The essay concludes on the increasing affect and role of the warehouse where it undertakes more value-added-processing jobs. The function of the warehouse is getting more centered from safe-keeping dominance to exchange dominance. It offers evolved from a minor aspect in the logistics system to undertaking two critical utilities of your energy and place that is vital to the success of the source chain.


Warehousing is a key component of the entire business supply chain. A warehouse is a center where the resource chain retains or stores goods, until they are needed by the customers. It really is typically viewed as a location to store, stock and keep maintaining inventory. The functions of the warehouse are to:

Receive the products from a source

Store the goods until they may be required

Pick the goods from the storage space when they are required

Ship the products to the appropriate user

Warehousing allows product build up, consolidation and customization where key activities are performed including packaging, labelling, marking, charges and returns handling (Frazelle 2002). The warehouse serves as a link between the designer and customer and is an integral area of the logistics system. It impacts the customer service stock-out rates and the company's sales and marketing success. Additionally inventories help to buffer the uncertainties and inefficiencies in the machine. Inventory has turned into a vital part of resource string management. Sople (2007) seen that in many logistical system designs, the role of the warehouse can be regarded as a switching service somewhat than as a storage facility. There is an increasing development for the warehouse to suppose more value-added handling responsibilities which is additional work beyond that of building and shipping customer orders (Frazelle 2002).


The concept of postponement first came out from a marketing perspective to manage hazards and uncertainty. Over time, the range of postponement has broadened from marketing to logistics, creation, purchasing, distribution and promotion techniques. Alderson (1950) identified postponement as a strategy that changes the differentiation of goods (form, personal information and inventory location) to as late a time as possible. Experts view postponement differently (Yeung et al. 2007). For some, postponement simply means performing at least one differentiating step later than it used to be performed. To others, postponement means adding variety after getting a customer order rather than in expectation of orders.

The process of postponement proposes that enough time of shipment and the location of final product processing in the distribution of something be delayed until a person order is received (Bucklin 1965; Zinn & Bowersox 1988). By keeping inventory in a 'less-finished' condition and postponing the final product assemblage until genuine customer demand is well known; companies can react more quickly to the market and offer higher customization options. Yang, Burns & Backhouse (2004a) consequently defines postponement as a technique that intentionally delays the execution of an activity, rather than starting it with imperfect or unreliable information suggestions. Yeung et al. (2007) have discovered the different types of postponement and they are summarized in Stand I.

From Table I the four major postponement strategies are: purchasing, form, logistics and time postponement. Where purchasing postponement is the practice of postponing the purchase of incoming components or raw materials until demand is known (Yang, Burns & Backhouse 2004b). Form postponement helps to keep undifferentiated semi-finished products to initiate production in anticipation of orders, such as changing the sequence of activities to hold off changes in form or identification (Zinn & Bowersox 1988). Logistics postponement preserves a full-line of anticipatory inventory at one or a few proper locations (Pagh & Cooper 1996). Time postponement refers to the delaying of the forward movement of inventories until customer orders have been received (Zinn & Bowersox 1988).

The 4 Major Postponement Strategies

Purchasing postponement

Delay purchase of expensive and fragile materials/components

Form postponement

Products in semi-finished forms and can be custom-made quickly in creation facilities

Logistics postponement

Maintain a full-line of anticipatory inventory at one or a few strategic locations. Products can be custom-made quickly in creation facilities close to customers

Time postponement

Finished products are retained in central location and are allocated quickly to customers

To illustrate the above postponement strategies, a good example would be on the Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) supply chain. The PSP has an extremely modular and standardized product design that is favourable to customization. It involves a base load up that contains the console, electric battery and AC adapter. The PSP supply chain is perfect for the products sold in Japan, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong where in fact the total number of models is aggregated. However the actual quantity required in each country is unknown. The products sold in each country involve some distinct differences in conditions of manual and packaging for different languages (Japanese, traditional or simplified Chinese) and the different types of sockets in each country (2 or 3 3 pin plugs).

Standard PSP Console

Different sockets: 2 &3 pin plugs manual and packing

Option 1: Purchasing Postponement.

Process flow: purchase+ make+ assembly+ delivery.

Delay purchase of expensive components until order is received

The make process includes the unit system and kind of plug

Assemble in line with the type of manual and product packaging for genuine country

Deliver to the country per customer's order

Option 2: Form Postponement.

Process movement: make+ assemblage+ delivery.

The make process includes the unit system and type of plug

Assemble in line with the type of manual and presentation for each country

Deliver to the united states per customer's order

Option 3: Logistics Postponement.

(Postponement set up utility)

Centralization of inventories improves on-time delivery and high stock availability.

Deliver products to the united states per customer's order

Option 4: Time Postponement.

Finished goods are stored in a central location and allocated quickly to customer.

Process flow: set up+ delivery.

Assemble and package based on the requirements for every single country

Deliver to the country per customer's order

Having identified the four major postponement strategies, this article will briefly describe the reason why companies use postponement. Aside from managing dangers and doubt, postponement helps the business to lessen inventory cost by delaying purchase of expensive components or in having semi-finished goods. Postponement reduces travelling cost through consolidation of inventory. Postponement reduces the chance of obsolescence as recycleables are less prone to deterioration and also have a longer shelf life in comparison to done goods. Postponement reduces demand variability as processing and circulation of products are acted upon receiving customer order. This further assist in improving competitiveness by offering personalized products quickly. This article provides some circumstance studies to examine further on the advantages of postponement.

Case Study

Amazon. com

When Amazon. com started out as on online bookstore in 1995 could offer more than the traditional offline bookstores that offers 200, 000 headings. Making use of logistics postponement (completed goods) it looks for postponement opportunities in the ultimate movements of products, which have taken their final form in advance of customer purchases, to the client. With the introduction of e-commerce, online inventories are independent of the physical location of the inventories at the time orders are placed. Amazon. com thus handles the inventory to fulfil customer requests by postponing the location of inventory with their suppliers in the upstream source chain before introduction of customer requests (Bailey & Rabinovich 2006). With warehouses and fulfilment centres located in cities often near to air-port deliveries are directed to the customer. In practice, Amazon. com usually chooses to work tightly with its distributors and america Postal Service to ensure that this can use such a postponement strategy (drop-ship) to handle the quantity and delivery timing of a favorite product (Yang et al. 2007). This case study shows the warehouse's role as a retaining service to store the products until they may be needed. It also allows the products to be customizes quickly before delivery to customer.

Dell Computers

Dell's supply string is a style of excellence, someone to be emulated. Dell Pcs created a distinctive model within the computer industry by pioneering the build to order computer. Dell uses an assortment of techniques; postponement, modularity, merchant managed inventory, resource string partnerships, and demand management that support build to order procedure (Gunasekaran & Ngai 2005). The usage of supply chain partnerships enable vendor monitored inventory. The modularity of the computers and Dell's use of demand management techniques coupled with vendor been able inventory enable a high amount of postponement. Furthermore Dell's closeness to customers allows it to avoid outdated inventory, allowing it to bring services to advertise faster than its competition (Mikkola & Skjёtt-Larsen 2004).

The massive amount integration between users of the supply chain scheduled to postponement makes all users of the chain in charge of product development (Mikkola & Skjёtt-Larsen 2004). Postponement and modular design permit the mass customization to reach your goals. A vendor managed inventory system serves Dell to maintain low fat inventory levels while centering its work on the assemblage of the merchandise rather than inventory management. As Dell partcipates in a build to order strategy; it generally does not begin to assemble the product until a person order is received and the customer's credit has cleared. Dell will keep its computer components uncommitted for as long as possible to enable the customization of products while keeping economies of scale. By delaying the final configuration of the product for so long as possible it permits last minute changes in the set up of a product or it can allow for a shorter lead time of the merchandise for the company. Therefore, Dell can practice purchasing and form postponement. Purchasing postponement offers the maximum benefits as less capital is determined until an order is received. To get this done, Dell has its suppliers deliver components from other factories to "revolvers", that happen to be small warehouses located near Dell assemblage plants worldwide (Gunasekaran & Ngai 2005). Dell is also in a position to perform form postponement as a result of the modular design of the computer. The warehouse can support the ultimate configuration to allow assemblage of the computer base on specific requirements.

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

Hewlett-Packard Company's key to mass customizing effectively is to postpone the duty of differentiating a product for a particular customer before latest possible point in the supply network (Feitzinger and Lee 1997). Doing an research of its personal computer manufacturing, HP analysts discovered that the modular framework of the merchandise and the production process allows the business to postpone all steps of the non-public computer's final set up (integrating the Computer board, processor, chassis, power supply, storage devices, and software). Learning from Dell and adopting form and time postponement strategy HP distribution network then built the product in locations close to customers only in response with their orders. HP forgotten its past practice of stocking done goods or partially completed units, HP carried out a build-to-order approach in any way its distribution centres in early 1995. In this way, the company save on transportation and obligation costs and greatly increase its return on investments.


Postponement is a widely used making strategy. Dell's success in the practice of source chain management has produced a great deal of interest for companies to emulate its 'Best Practice' quality. Before embarking on postponement, companies need to recognize and fully understand the market requirements. The amount of uncertainty is significant for selecting an appropriate postponement strategy. Though it is difficult or impossible to obtain correct information about the near future, postponement is an average response to exterior doubt. The warehouse is an integral area of the supply string infrastructure becomes critical in supporting and guaranteeing the success of the resource string. From its traditional role as a safe-keeping service, the warehouse has become a link between your producer and customer. The warehouse has to play a dynamic role to ensure service superiority and service levels aren't affected due to uncertainties and inefficiencies in the system.

With companies applying postponement strategy, the role of the warehouse has widened as it undertakes more value added processes which include packaging, labelling, marking, costing and returns processing. In the event analysis above, the warehouse is both directly and indirectly involved in helping postponement. As exhibited by the Amazon. com model the warehouse ensures product is available upon the receipt of customer order by consolidating and packaging the order for delivery. In executing form postponement it's important to possess semi-finished goods available in the warehouse. This then allows customization to be achieved quickly. The warehouse is actively mixed up in postponement strategies executing time and place electricity insurance firms goods available at the right time and place.

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