6 Ways a 3PL Provider Can Help Your Brand with On Demand Fulfillment
On-Demand Shipping is rapidly becoming the new normal in the world of fulfillment. The growing expectation from both retailers and consumers is that a brand has its product immediately available for purchase with no delays in order fulfillment. This shift has triggered the need for brands to hold more stock on a regular basis, which greatly increases the space needed to both store inventory and pick / pack orders.
For e-commerce, a brand’s inventory must be available on demand in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. The direct consumers’ expectation is that a brand’s inventory, of any style and size, is always available online for purchase at any moment, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Lack of available inventory not only means a loss of sale and poor consumer experience but the likelihood of a repeat purchase greatly diminishes.
On the brick-and-mortar retail side, one trend contributing to the shift to On Demand Fulfillment is that retailers are decreasing the size of their booking orders and supplementing the seasonal purchases with small, immediate orders placed daily or weekly. This allows retailers to shrink their costly physical footprint while also meeting the needs and wants of their customers based on actual purchasing data. This balance between reducing overhead costs and increasing sales is a driving factor for many retailers.
These immediate retailer orders tend to have a higher SKU count but a lower unit count, essentially becoming like large e-commerce orders which, in turn, require more intensive handling. Immediate orders also have a faster expectation for fulfillment, given their smaller size and the need of the retailer to have it in store as soon as possible. Both are notable factors in differentiating this order type to the more traditional large season booking orders of the past.
Given the time-sensitive nature of retailer and consumer orders, there can also be a demand to ship them on a higher level than what a standard ground service provides. In the world of On Demand Fulfillment, the retailer and consumer want the order as fast as they are willing to pay, which means a brand must be able to offer various shipping solutions that best accommodate the customer. This can be anything from a 3-day or 2-day delivery to early AM next day delivery. All of it available at the click of a button.
While the retailer and consumer’s shared expectation are straight forward – have the inventory available and ship it quickly – there is an immense amount of backend logistical support needed to make that happen successfully. For a brand, they have two common routes to choose from:
They can either make a serious investment into their own operation, inclusive of not only space, infrastructure, and technology but also acquiring the key, talented people required to launch it. This can be a costly endeavour, requiring a lot of resources from both a time and monetary perspective to do it right.
The other option would be to partner with an experienced, knowledgeable, and dynamic third-party logistics and order fulfillment provider. This allows a brand to trust the back-end logistics to a professional who will act as an extension of your brand, fulfilling orders with the same care and practice as if they came out of the brand’s own facility.
In choosing a 3PL partner, there are several key factors for a brand to look for as to ensure their expectations and needs will be met.
1. Strong Technology Foundation
A strong technology foundation is a paramount factor for a 3PL and Order Fulfillment partner being able to execute. Having the ability to integrate their Warehouse Management System to any platform – from CRM to ERPs, accounting software and webstore platforms – is integral in providing a seamless experience to the brand and customer.
2. Transparent Inventory Management
Real-time inventory availabilities must be able to be transmitted back and forth so that the customer, whether retailer or consumer, can have visibility on what’s available to purchase anytime they would like. Once an order has been placed, all the data can transmit over to the 3PL’s WMS automatically, and from there fulfilled within their WMS. Once shipped, the carrier data like tracking must revert to the brand as again, visibility is key for a great customer experience.
3. Responsive Inventory Scalability
As a brand’s inventory holdings grow in order to provide orders on demand, so will the footprint required within a fulfillment center. A 3PL partner with the ability to scale with your volume is important as otherwise, the customer’s demands may not be met. The third-party logistics and order fulfillment provider should to be able to secure additional space as needed, as well as building infrastructure like racking for storage and pick and pack areas with ease and efficiency.
4. Dynamic Order Fulfillment
A 3PL has to offer dynamic order fulfillment so that they can handle not only a brand’s immediate retailer and e-commerce orders, but larger seasonal bookings as well. Having multiple providers with different solutions can create inefficiencies within your supply chain. The 3PL’s warehouse management system, personnel, and processes must be nimble and accommodate the fluctuating volume while also consistently delivering the required service levels on the various order types that a brand has.
For a brand, the ability to forecast accurately is an essential element of being successful. Accurate forecasting creates efficiencies throughout the supply chain, from production to transport and all the way down to fulfillment and inventory management. The forecast for orders would not only be at a seasonal or monthly level but down to the week and day, particularly for on-demand volumes like immediate retail orders and e-commerce. As the ability to collect and analyse data becomes easier, so does a brand’s ability to forecast accurately.
6. Fast Shipping
Whether a retailer or consumer, the shared expectation is that the inventory is available and ready to ship quickly. This means that a brand needs a third-party logistics provider can scale as the inventory holdings increase while continuing to offer excellent order fulfillment service levels, both of which a52 excels at.
At a52 Fulfillment, we offer a solution that is tailored, integrated and transparent. These are the three principles by which our whole company and culture are built. We Tailor our business to yours so that a52 is enabled as an extension of your brand. From there, we Integrate around your company’s software systems and methods to create a seamless partnership on both sides. Lastly, a52 will always be Transparent with our operation with real-time access to our WMS client portal which is available online 24/7. It is these core principles that contribute to a52’s successful on-demand shipping for all of our Clients.
Contact a fulfillment services expert at a52 today to learn more about our solution!