In recent years, ecommerce has become an increasingly ubiquitous fixture in the American retail industry. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported in 2018 that consumers spent USD 517 billion shopping with American online merchants. This figure represents a 15 percent increase from the USD 450 billion spent by consumers during the previous year. Ecommerce now represents more than 14 percent of total retail sales in the country, and its share is only expected to grow even bigger.
If you’re running an ecommerce business, it is in your best interest to discover and utilize the most effective solutions to make sure that your ecommerce logistics can keep abreast of the fast-paced developments in the global ecommerce industry. Even if your company may have the most amazing products to sell and the best marketing team to drum up interest and curiosity about your brand, you won’t be able to get that value to where your customers are without a modern ecommerce fulfilment strategy.
In this short guide, we’ll fill you in on some of the most important features to look for in an ecommerce fulfillment services provider. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to find the right partner who can help you achieve your order fulfillment goals in this new age of ecommerce.
Same-Day Order Fulfillment
Gone are the days when products that have been ordered by telephone or pre-ordered from brick-and-mortar shops would be processed only days or even weeks after the order was placed. These days, ecommerce customers expect—nay, demand—their orders to get to them as fast as humanly possible. Moreover, they also want complete transparency about where their orders are currently at or at what stage of fulfillment they’re currently in.
As such, it is important to find ecommerce order fulfillment companies that can fulfill and even ship your customers’ orders on the same day they were placed. You’ll want a partner that can accept orders as late as 5:00 PM on the same day for example, especially if you want to astonish your customers with just how fast you can process the products they need.
Frictionless Returns Processing
In the past, ecommerce players considered returns a negative aspect of operating an ecommerce business. While it remains true today that a return is essentially a lost sale, many ecommerce businesses will see it as an opportunity to turn a negative into an opportunity to create an exceptional customer experience. This is why an ecommerce fulfillment service provider should have reverse logistics as one of its priority services. Ideally, you’ll want a partner that is capable of processing products within 48 hours once they receive the returned items. This way, your customers will also be able to receive their refund at the soonest possible time.
Moreover, you’ll also want to look for an ecommerce fulfillment company that can customize their returns processing and reverse logistics based on the returns policy that you currently implement. Options should be available to you, whether you want your products to be returned to you quickly for overhaul or re-packaging, or you simply need them to be restocked at the fulfillment center.
Cloud-Based Warehousing and Inventory Management
Modern-day order fulfillment is an immensely complex task due to the sheer number of products that fulfillment companies have to handle daily. This also takes into account the vast network of warehousing, inventory, and logistical resources that they have to manage. This can’t be handled by legacy warehouse management systems, and it certainly can’t be handled the manual way. As such, you should make sure that you’re picking a fulfillment partner that can help you streamline your inventory management using state-of-the-art web- or cloud-based warehouse management system. With such a solution in place, you are afforded comprehensive visibility over every stage of the fulfillment process, allowing you to perform better demand planning and to make business decisions faster.
Getting your products to your customers can take a huge chunk out of your budget. However, you can reduce the amount of money you’re shelling out if your chosen ecommerce fulfillment service provider allows you to configure your fulfillment such that more items are consolidated into each package you ship. By minimizing the number of packages you have to ship, you also save more money in return.
Better Packing Options
A one-size fits all approach when it comes to packing products for shipping should not be something a modern ecommerce fulfillment company should be taking. After all, items for shipping come in many different shapes, sizes, and levels of fragility. A great fulfillment partner should be able to help you find and test the most appropriate boxes, wraps, cushioning, and tapes to use for your packages. This will not only emphasize how much you care for your customers’ orders in a professional context, but it will also help you minimize shipping claims due to products being damaged while in transit.
With customers becoming more demanding and with competition getting more fierce, it makes absolute sense to rethink your ecommerce logistics strategy and to make sure that it can keep up with the exigencies of the current retail economy. A next-generation ecommerce fulfillment service provider can help you take advantage of solutions that are made for the digital age and the era of fast-moving supply chains.