Cross Dock

What is the Cross Dock logistics system?

Supply chain efficiency and resilience has become critical for organisations who rely on distribution of products throughout a supply chain. Cross docking is a supply chain management framework that was introduced to reduce manual handling within a supply chain and has become particularly popular for small-medium size vendors where lower relative volumes of product are despatched.

This Cross Docking guide provides a high level overview of the system and is designed to be an introduction for suppliers who may be new to the concept or onboarding new staff who need to quickly become familiar with it. Implemented correctly, Cross Docking can provide significant improvements to a supply chain and enable significant improvements to efficiency and network resilience.

In Australia there are a number of large retailers who have embraced the cross dock framework including BIG W and K-Mart. This guide focuses on the Woolworths guidelines and specifications (note these are different to other retailers such as K-Mart who use slightly different specifications).

Breaking it down

The above example (and below notes) refer specifically to the BIG W cross dock standard and may not be accurate or applicable for other retailers.


  1. Address header fields From: To: For: and Carrier: are to be minimum 3mm in height.
  2. DC Number & Store Number are to be minimum 8mm in height.
  3. State and postcode are to be a minimum of 6mm tall and in bold.
  4. (PO Number) is a minimum of 10mm in height (the words Purchase Order can be 4mm in height to allow for label spacing requirements).
  5. All barcodes are to:
    a) Be a minimum of 32mm in height
    b) Conform with GS1-128 barcode type
    c) Have a 10mm quiet zone on either side
    d) Meet the minimum print quality according to ANSI Grade B
  6. All text below barcodes are to be a minimum of 3mm in height.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main benefits of using Cross Dock in general?

Cross Dock allows for a seamless transition of goods between the supplier and their final location when transferring through multiple locations. For example from supplier to Distribution Centre to retail outlet. In addition to this it reduces the need to reprint labels and reduces human error by clearly defining the goods final destination directly from the vendor source.

For suppliers to BIG W, what are the main benefits of Cross Dock?
  • Payment approval from 4 locations instead of every BIG W store
  • Reduction in transport costs to send to 4 locations
  • Greater pallet utilisation and reduction in transport
  • More responsive ordering cycle and reactiveness to store demand
What are the main benefits of Cross Dock from BIG-W’s perspective?
  • Custom orders for each store
  • Reduced DC handling time and costs
  • Reduction in pallets and pick locations utilised
  • Movement of slower moving lines through the DC network, not holding up space in reserve locations
How does a Cross Dock warehouse differ from a normal warehouse?

A cross dock warehouse generally uses a smaller footprint than a traditional warehouse or distribution centre. A cross dock warehouse can be as simple as a receivables dock, a despatch dock and a small sorting area in between. This reduces human error and simplifies the supply chain.

How many labels do I need to apply to a cross dock product?

Only one label is required and a cross dock item can contain multiple SKUs which is where it differs significantly from a normal SSCC label (where you can only have one SKU per label).

What is the bar height and magnification for cross dock labels?

The minimum bar height is to be 32mm with a magnification of 50% or greater. In addition to this the human readable text below the barcode is to be 3mm tall and have a 10mm quiet zone either side.

Real-Life Case Study

DHL Australia

DHL Australia is an Australian leader in the logistics industry, specializing in shipping, courier services and transportation. At their Sydney distribution centre they process over 3000 cartons each day, meaning they needed a machine that could continuously and reliably keep up with demand.