Many direct-to-consumer brands use kitting as a regular part of their fulfillment process. Kitting can help businesses upsell, create unique product offerings, and differentiate themselves from the competition. Learn more about kitting, what the process involves, and its advantages.
Kitting is the process of collecting multiple items, packaging them together, and creating a new SKU for the final product. Kitting can package items that are only sold as a set but arrive at the warehouse separately, or can be a collection of items that are also sold separately. For example, matching bathroom faucets and handles may be sold only as a set, while a book series may be sold as individual books or as a complete collection. The components of a kit are often kept in different areas of a warehouse, so sometimes the kitting process can involve assembly lines and picking services.
Kitting is different from pick and pack, though they may seem similar. When a customer orders multiple items from an online store, those items are picked from their various storage locations in the warehouse, then packed into a single order. Kitting, on the other hand, involves assembling a predetermined collection of items before an order is received by the warehouse. A unique SKU is then assigned to the kit, identifying it as its own singular product.
Kitting is commonly used for subscription services, products that require assembly after shipping, and special limited-time offers. When shipping a larger volume of similar orders, kitting can be a good way to save money on pick and pack, which is typically one of the most expensive elements of ecommerce fulfillment.
The specific process may vary from one facility to another and for different products or kit types. For example, assembling a bath accessory subscription box is simpler than assembling a kit for a complex workout machine. There may be more than 100 pieces for the workout equipment order, but fewer than 10 for the subscription box. That said, kitting processes generally follow four steps.
Kitting requirements are usually standardized, requiring the same components in each kit. In some cases, however, the orders will be customized—for example, if customers get to pick and choose the components of a kit that is sold for a standard price. In this case, warehouses or fulfillment centers use systems that make operations more efficient. This could include the product-to-person method, in which the products are brought to employees who stay at a kitting station so they don’t need to collect them, and automation.
There is usually an order or kit verification step. This helps to ensure that kits have the right items in the right quantities. Once all the supplies are on hand, the team can build the kits and double-check the components.
Kit items must be put into packages so they can be stored and shipped as a single SKU. Facilities may use different packaging configurations for various types of kits. For instance, a tool kit may be packaged with cardboard and plastic. A subscription box may include wrapped or unwrapped items inside a cardboard box. Fulfillment managers must ensure that kit teams have the right packaging supplies to prepare the kits properly.
Depending on the kit, it may be sent out immediately or stored in the warehouse. If they're stored in the warehouse for future sales, they must be properly labeled. When custom kits are assembled to be sent immediately—such as a subscription box—a kitting worker may also apply shipping labels. A separate shipping department will handle kit labels in some cases. This depends on the facility and the type of kit.
Kitting services refer to the paid labor of assembling kits by a third party. The services are commonly performed at warehouses on behalf of merchants, but can also be provided by the manufacturer in some cases. Either way, access to affordable kitting service is a critical need for businesses that sell a collection of items as a single SKU.
There are several benefits to kitting. Ecommerce professionals will find that the process:
Kitting enables condensed storage at the warehouse. Instead of storing five components of a kit in five separate pallets, the pre-assembled kits can be stored together.
When merchants need less storage space, they pay less in storage fees. Kits can help reduce a business’ footprint within a warehouse, lowering costs for the business and customers.
Proper kitting can help protect delicate or high-value items by placing them in protective packaging. Plus, merchants can enjoy better quality control thanks to improved assembly structure at modern warehouses and employees’ inspection of each component of a kit as it’s being assembled.
Having a kit ready to ship eliminates lost time picking and packing order pieces on demand. The value of an efficient fulfillment process is high. When a company’s customers can receive their orders faster because of warehouse kitting services, they’re happier.
A good reputation and quick shipping turnaround are valuable for attracting customers. Additionally, kitted items may be bundled and offered at a discount—kit prices may be less than the sum of buying all the products individually. Also, companies can bundle top-selling items with other, lesser-known products, thereby introducing customers to more of their offerings. In some cases, this helps move older merchandise from the warehouse.
Good sales volume, reliable shipping, quick turnaround, and high-quality kits all go a long way in strengthening a brand’s identity and reputation. Plus, kits typically come in branded packaging, creating a memorable unboxing experience for the customer. Positive customer reviews and recommendations are gold for any business, especially one with ambitions to continue to grow.
Not sure what items will sell well together? Check out our blog on boosting sales with virtual bundling and how it provides merchants with the flexibility to test product bundles on the fly.
If you are looking for ways to streamline fulfillment and boost sales, kitting may be valuable to you. Contact a fulfillment expert at Airhouse to learn more about our warehouses’ kitting services and how they can benefit your business.
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