B2C eCommerce fulfillment presents several logistical challenges to your fulfillment team. Many fulfillment centers are grappling with low- or no-stock issues for high-demand items in their warehouses and distribution centers. If that’s not enough to ground business to a halt, the on-going labor shortage is the 1-2 punch many businesses are facing. Some companies have embraced tech & detailed planning as a way to combat supply issues, keep items in stock, and workers in the warehouse.
Where short shipping times are the main KPI, your tools and solutions have to work hard for you to keep orders moving out the door. No matter where your team is or how geographically spread-out your enterprise is there are ways to improve your fulfillment strategies.
eCommerce is Here to Stay
An estimated 95% of all purchases will be through eCommerce by 2040. Fueled by the global pandemic, this figure jumped drastically from 2019 – 2022 and only shows signs of accelerating. The idea of ordering anything and everything from the comfort of a mobile device is a trend that consumers are embracing. From regular groceries to the new family car, eCommerce isn’t going anywhere.
There are new expectations with eCommerce that can make fulfillment challenging. Many challenges center around shipping expectations ushered in by mega-retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Any Prime Member recognizes the value of free two-day shipping, and this offering was made available years before the global pandemic. As a result, consumers expect the standard and norm to be free two-day shipping. They make orders and expect those orders to be fulfilled promptly.
Those mega-retailers are dangling same-day delivery promises for the future, which will compound shipping woes for small businesses, and even regional chains, in the years to come. In addition to shipping expectations, eCommerce customers have come to expect easy, free returns, which can be a logistical nightmare all its own.
Supply Chain Woes
Many B2C companies were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to scramble to fulfill orders. As an unprecedented result, large corporations have started buying up businesses to transform themselves into a complete buying and fulfillment operation. For example, companies like American Eagle are investing directly in fulfillment and logistics businesses to shore up against future supply chain disruptions.
These investments would allow retailers to move away from current stop gaps they are utilizing to address supply chain issues. Additional, this helps prevent future issues with limited stock, low-cost supply, longer supply times, higher shipping prices, and outages on items across the warehouse.
Navigating through the pandemic was tough, but businesses that were resilient pivoted their operations to alternative fulfillment methods like holding large amounts of stock for high demand items. Solutions like in-house stock piling require much larger warehouses and more manpower.
eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid
While eCommerce certainly has its advantages there are several challenges that plague many, if not all, eCommerce fulfillment operations.
If your warehouse or distribution center lacks an organized, methodical pick-and-pack workflow, your team is missing out on higher fulfillment rates that lead to greater profit margins and happier customers. Understanding which pick and pack method suits your business’s current needs is vital to keep the flow of goods moving optimally through your business doors.
Picking B2B and B2C eCommerce orders can be more susceptible to a higher percentage of incorrect orders. eCommerce orders can come in high volumes, and if the warehouse workers are overburdened with a high number of orders in an inefficient pick and pack system, your success rate will suffer. This can be simplified by using hardware and software solutions to optimize your processes. Examples might be Fetch Robotics autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) or voice-picking software complete with headsets and hands-free verification options.
eCommerce orders can also fall victim to higher rates of damaged order returns when moved through the entire warehouse quickly. If your business suffers a higher rate of damaged goods, audit the process from load-in to packing to find the answers you need. After a survey, communicate with your team to work through challenges that leave your merchandise damaged.
One of the most prevalent challenges for eCommerce fulfillment is forecasting backstock and managing backorder in a way that keeps customers loyal and satisfied. There are many DIY options for this pain point, but one of the best ways to tackle backorder head-on is to work with a trusted industry partner who can help forecast shortages based on your high-traffic inventory. DecisionPoint works with warehouse managers and distribution leaders across the country to fulfill orders as expeditiously as possible, helping hit critical KPIs.
Identify Your Particular Pain Points
Part of the success of distribution businesses that made it through the pandemic and ensuing supply chain issues was that they took their pain points personally. Every distribution business is different. There might be a dozen or more similarities across the industry, but all are unique in their own way. Understanding your unique challenges and crafting a customized plan to overcome those challenges is the open secret to success in challenging fulfillment scenarios.
Audit your processes and solutions. You might be ticking along well enough in fulfillment, but leaning on an industry partner may help take some of the pressure and guesswork off of shortage forecasting. An updated warehouse management system may be the golden ticket for those still struggling with fulfillment success rates. A new pick and pack method may be the right call, and a partner can help you evaluate your business and craft criteria to help you invest in the correct pick and pack method.
DecisionPoint Systems: Your Distribution and Warehouse Solution
Just because solutions are used industry-wide doesn’t mean you have to live with them if they don’t fit your workflow. There are several solutions that can make eCommerce fulfillment easier, including customized warehouse management solutions. Include solutions that take automation and analytics into account for the greatest success.
DecisionPoint is a trusted industry partner, well-versed in distribution management software and hardware solutions. Contact us today to talk about the DecisionPoint difference for your business.