Ecommerce retail operations are subject to the most intense pressure from consumers than any other industry. People want the products they ordered delivered at home next day – or even on the same day. They will return products with the slightest blemish or defect, even if it involves just the primary packaging. This means that delays and errors in ecommerce fulfillment can cost your company a lot of money and many clients who will stop buying from you. To help you, our logistics experts have prepared a list of helpful tips to optimize ecommerce fulfillment operations.
Ecommerce Is the New Norm in Retail
Why do we focus especially on ecommerce? The answer is that this is how retail shopping will operate from now on. Brick and mortar stores will continue to exist, but the main source of revenues for retailer will come from their online shops. Speed, convenience and the ability to return products at no cost determines consumers to stop walking in stores and open your mobile app or online shop instead.
And, as we have witnessed while working with several ecommerce retailers, this specific area of the B2C sector has different rules and constraints than in-store shopping. This gave us a valuable insight into ecommerce retailers’ daily activities and helped up identify some best practices to optimize ecommerce fulfillment operations.
1. Maximize Order Picking Capacities
Order picking is usually the step in the fulfillment process where things can go wrong. Employees may pick the wrong product, forget to add a product to an order or lose valuable time trying to identify all the items.
A combination of technology (hand held devices), smart packaging and storage options and returnable packaging with label holders can help you optimize this specific activity and maximize the order picking capacities. We can provide you with a full range of plastic pallets which can be integrated in any type of shelving system, as well as space saving containers (collapsible and foldable boxes and crates) with label holders.
2. Ensure Adequate Resources for Order Fulfillment
The sales season at the end of summer and the holiday shopping season used to be the busiest periods for online retailers. Now, every month of the year has peak weeks, when you need to be able to pick, prepare and deliver a large number of orders.
Thus, in order to optimize order fulfillment operations, you must be prepared for intense activity all year round. This involves allocating sufficient resources for these operations, from human resources to packaging materials and inventories.
3. Use Technology to Optimize Inventory
Speaking of inventories, many warehouse, sales and financial managers are locked in an endless debate on how many products to keep on stock. Sales managers want maximum capacity for everything. Financial managers warn against blocking cash in inventory. Warehouse supervisors say they do not have sufficient storage space and manpower for everything on stock.
The solution comes from modern technology and reliable suppliers. Warehouse management systems and sales forecasting tools can solve the issue of how much to keep on stock and how to organize the items. A reliable packaging supplier like Logistic Packaging can help with space saving containers and boxes and expert advice on optimizing storage space and warehouse traffic.
4. Factor Product Returns into Your Logistics Operations
Order picking and delivery is just one direction of the logistics operations in ecommerce. Product returns represent the other direction. You have to take a realistic approach – customers will continue to return products, no matter how hard you works to provide them with better products and a superior shopping experience,
A simple and effective return process can help you keep a customer, even if they did not like a specific product. Thus, you need to consider the shipping, packaging and handling aspects of product returns. It is the only way of making sure that you optimize ecommerce fulfillment operations end-to-end.
5. Bring Products Closer to Consumers
Let us illustrate this example with our own strategy. Although we do not sell online and work in the B2B sector, we decided that the best location for our production facility is near a major transportation hub that spreads out towards all Europe. Also, the location is in close to the border with Western Europe, which allows us to reduce the distance to prospective EU clients.
What does it mean for you? You must learn where your main customer groups live. Unless your business compares in size to Amazon, you definitely have a few areas from which you get most orders. Once you identify them, considering creating smaller distribution hubs, supplied from a central warehouse on a need to deliver basis. Also, consider sourcing everything from packaging to professional services locally, where you can count on a quick response in special circumstances.
Our logistics and packaging specialists can help you optimize ecommerce fulfillment operations through expert assistance and high quality packaging solutions. Send us an email to start discussing with a Logistic Packaging expert now!