Have you ever sat around a table full of people, talking about this or that, acronyms and unfamiliar words and phrases being tossed around like a fresh salad, all while observing everyone smiling and nodding? Familiar?

What are the odds that all those smiling and nodding people have 100% clarity of what’s even being discussed? Odds are very good that at least a few in the room are utterly clueless. This can be especially true if there are customers, vendors, or others who just aren’t familiar with the terminology flying out of the mouths of experts.

Acronyms are common in most industries. In warehousing & fulfillment, goals are to provide fast service, high quality, and pinpoint accuracy. So of course, to be fast, we shorten words and use lots of acronyms! It’s in our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

We’d would like to provide at least a little relief to cure your insatiable knowledge related to warehousing & fulfilment! In our industry, entire conversations can take place using only acronyms, so let’s make all the smiling and nodding you do mean you really understand. If you don’t understand, ask questions. Great warehousing and fulfillment providers are happy to clear things up for you.

WMS – Warehouse Management System  Every good warehouse is going to have a warehouse management system (WMS). This is software that allows the warehouse to track inventory and provide accurate and timely order fulfillment – the WMS is essentially the brains of the warehouse. Do you need to track serial numbers or lot codes? This data is controlled within the WMS too. Without a WMS, your inventory may be tracked by spreadsheets and lacking considerable QC.

TMS – Transportation Management System  Like a warehouse management system, a transportation management system will manage all the shipping rules necessary to your business. Do you have a need to ship certain orders via a specific shipping method? Do you have unique shipping requirements? These rules are held in this software.

3PL - Third Party Logistics  Outsourcing the distribution services of your business.

SP – Small parcel  Any package not shipping on a pallet will qualify for small parcel shipping. Small parcel packages are picked up by their respective carriers from the warehouse and scanned throughout their network to deliver to a consumer or business. General time in transit is 1-5 days in the continental US and dictated by the distance between the warehouse and the destination.  

LTL – Less than load   When you have an order that is 250 lbs. or more, it is most cost effective to ship on a pallet via the LTL network. LTL references shipping inventory on pallets when the pallet count is less than a full truckload’s worth (26 pallets = full truck load). It’s important to understand where this pallet is being shipped. Residential areas or a building without a dock will require liftgate service; it’s better to ask for this up front to avoid delays & increased fees related to the delivery.

AMZ – Amazon  No description needed; you’re living under a rock if you’re unfamiliar with this beast.

DC – Distribution Center  A distribution center is a warehouse used for the purpose of storing and shipping products.

FBA – Fulfilled by Amazon  This is one of the options sellers have to offer their products in the Amazon network and on their website. Seller’s ship product into an Amazon determined DC. It is received in and stored in a location for order fulfillment. Amazon can adjust your inventory based on sales data and seasonal needs. This means Amazon can demand you have more or less of your product in their DC.

FBM – Fulfilled by Merchant  This is another option sellers have to offer their products on the Amazon website. In this case, the product is sold through Amazon but is fulfilled by another organization. Some brands choose to self-fulfill when the volume is expected to be low, others will choose a 3PL to support their fulfillment. The bottom line here is that you, the business owner, will dictate what inventory you have in the warehouse.

B2B – Business to Business  Selling your brand into retail......i.e., Target, Walmart, REI, etc. The goal is to sell your product in larger quantities for the retailer to sell to consumers. In most cases, your product will need to enter the retail environment via their distribution centers.

B2C – Business to Consumer  Selling your brand/product directly to consumers. This can be done through your own ecommerce website OR many retailers offer the option to sell your products on their branded sites but still fulfill on your own or through a 3PL.

DTS – Direct to Store  In a B2B model, this is distributing products directly to retail stores vs. distributing into a retail distribution center network.

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange  Standardized method for businesses to transfer data. This is commonly used to support B2B order processing but in some cases used for B2C.

OMS – Order Management System  Software solution allowing brands to apply rules and control their order flow. This software that will sit “before” the warehouse management system solution.

QC – Quality Control  This is a general term that would apply to any process that is designed to control quality output.  

LPN – License Plate Number  A unique identifier which is assigned to represent the contents on a pallet. The LPN is used to streamline inventory movement processes within the warehouse.

SCN – Serialized Carton Number  This is a unique number assigned to a carton which is then assigned to an order. This number is then used as a reference to the order throughout the fulfillment process. Fun fact, in a multi-carton order, the SCN will identify the contents within each carton.

SPN – Serialized Pallet Number   This identifier is tied to a pallet and assigned to the varying SCN’s within that pallet. The SPN can then be used to identify contents within that pallet.

BOL – Bill of Lading  A detailed list of items that travel with the freight to serve as a chain of custody between the shipper, the freight company, and the receiver.

BOM – Bill of Materials  List of items and respective quantities that are to be used to support a project. This allows the team to pull the correct number of items per SKU for quality purposes.

SPC – Statistical Process Control  Applying a consistent data decision to a quality process. For example, when producing 10,000 kits, SPC will tell us to 100% QC the first 50 kits completed. If ANY of those kits are inaccurate, the team has to start over to achieve 50 accurate kits consecutively. SPC will then tell the team to QC 1,000 kits sporadically throughout the remainder of the build.  

POD – Proof of Delivery  Validation the shipment arrived at its destination.

FTL - Full Truckload  Shipments with enough pallets requiring a full truck of dedicated space.

TL – Truckload  Same as FTL; just a shortened acronym😊

API - Application Programming Interface  Language in which systems communicate or share data.

ASN - Advance Ship Notification  This is essentially a pack slip that is sent in advance of the shipment as a notification of what is to arrive.

FIFO - First in, first out  Applies to the SKU and reflects that the first items to arrive are the first to ship out. The oldest items per SKU will ship first.

LIFO - Last in, first out  Applies to the SKU and reflects that the last items to arrive are the first to ship out. The newest items per SKU will ship first.

FEFO - First Expiration Date, First Out  Applies to the SKU and reflects that the items with the oldest expiration date (without bypassing the expiration date) will ship out first. This ensures the usage of the oldest product first.  

KSP - Kitting Solutions Plus  Did you know this was our original name? We adjusted it to KSP Fulfillment in 2018 when we expanded our B2C & B2B service offerings.