A process where incoming goods are not put directly into storage, but are taken directly to some type of outbound staging area for customer shipment instead, saving the labor time of first putting away and later picking those items. Within that basic construct, there are three primary types of crossdocking: (1) Planned crossdocking, where there is visibility to the expected receipts, meaning the WMS is aware and executes a crossdock when the goods arrive. This is common in the retail sector, especially for DCs using a “mark for” approach in which vendor shipments that go to a retailer DC but are “marked for” a specific store can be used in other sectors; (2) Opportunistic crossdocking, where the WMS determines there is open order for a received item, and figures that it can be shipped directly without being put away first; and (3) Distribution crossdocking, generally applicable in a facility created for the express purpose of crossdocking, such as where full truckloads of goods are received, then crossdocked to various smaller trucks for local deliveries.

The term “crossdocking” is sometimes used as a synonym for “flow through,” yet in reality they are really different processes. Crossdocking sounds great in concept, but outside of some retail and distribution, crossdocking scenarios if difficult to execute due to timing issues, especially with the other items on an order.

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