Optimize Your eCommerce Fulfillment to Meet Consumer Demand

The 2019 holiday ecommerce numbers are in – spending in the U.S. for Nov and Dec hit a record $142.5 billion, which is up 13.1% from last year. Worldwide ecommerce spending was up 8% to $723 billion.

The continued growth of ecommerce creates great opportunity for brands, but it also comes with the challenge of meeting new consumer expectations. Consumers want their orders fast – and what was considered fast yesterday might not be considered fast in 6 months. We all know by now that the bar is set high, and the sense of urgency is real.

The ability to provide fast order fulfillment is critical for any brand to have long-standing success. And the good news is that working with a 3PL to optimize your ecommerce fulfillment operations can help you meet or exceed your customers’ expectations.

Inventory Management

ecommerce fulfillment warehouse

ecommerce fulfillment warehouse

Optimizing your ecommerce order fulfillment starts with accurate inventory management, which can be achieved with a robust warehouse management system (WMS). The WMS operates all critical warehousing and distribution services – receiving, transportation, inventory management, and order processing.

One of the biggest WMS benefits is the transparency and real-time access it offers to inventory levels and order status – which is especially critical if shipping from different fulfillment locations.

Some warehouse management systems, like the one used at PFC, also use a labor management system with time tracking that monitors team/employee activity and allows us to effectively plan labor demand.

Order Management

Consumers have grown accustom to receiving detailed order tracking for their online purchases – and receiving it fast. Nowadays, the typical communication flow that happens after hitting the order button includes an order confirmation email, followed by a ‘preparing your shipment’ email, followed by a shipment notification with package tracking information. More recently, consumers now also get a post-delivery message letting them know their package has been delivered.

The ability to provide this detailed level of order status requires sophisticated order management within your fulfillment operations. An experienced third-party fulfillment partner will have an order management system in place that can seamlessly integrate with a brand’s ecommerce platform and provide critical order status updates.

For brands that partner with a 3PL for their ecommerce fulfillment, a web-based client portal will provide real-time insights into order processing. Whether it’s monitoring daily order activity or minute-by-minute activity, comprehensive reporting is available and gives brands the ability to make decisions based on real-time data.

Shipping

Using the best shipping method is another key factor to optimizing your ecommerce order fulfillment. A 3PL can leverage their established network of major shipping carriers along with their high shipment volumes to not only cut shipping costs (sometimes as much as 30-40%) but also to get orders delivered faster.

Package weight and size also has a big impact on shipping costs and delivery time, and a 3PL can apply their knowledge in this area to choose the most suitable carrier and delivery option, which could potentially cut days off a delivery schedule.

Returns Management

ecommerce order fulfillment process

ecommerce order fulfillment process

Product returns in general have increased over 50% in the past few years and nearly a third of all products ordered online are returned. That’s why ecommerce fulfillment doesn’t end with order delivery to the consumer. An automated, hassle-free returns process is also important to most online shoppers, which is why more brands are turning to a 3PL to make sure their online returns are done right.

Many 3PLs have dynamic Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) solutions in place that streamline the entire returns process for brands and their customers.

For consumers, having the option to make a return request online, print out a merchandise return label, and easily return the product and track the status of the return will lead to a better brand experience and better chance of future sales.

In addition to giving their customers a better returns experience, brands also benefit from the streamlined process that an RMA solution delivers for other returns operations like repair and refurbishment, re-packaging and re-stocking, and recycling or disposal.

Be Ready

No matter how optimized you think your ecommerce fulfillment operations are, there may be room for improvement – especially as the age of ecommerce continues to evolve in speed and complexity.

The advantage to working with an experienced and reputable 3PL is that they’re always looking for ways to improve their own processes, so the brands they work with can continue to deliver the best possible customer experience and keep their competitive edge.

About PFC – An Experienced eCommerce Fulfillment Partner

At PFC, our clients’ success is our #1 priority. Since 1974, our team has delivered outstanding quantifiable results, with turnkey solutions in ecommerce & web fulfillment, promotions and contact center services – all backed by leading technology. Retailers and ecommerce brands that partner with PFC have historically achieved considerable cost savings in excess of 35% and have significantly improved their program ROI.

Learn more about PFC’s eCommerce fulfillment solutions or email us at info@pfcfulfills.com.