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Best-In-Class E-commerce Order Fulfillment: A Focus on Both Pick & Pack and Shipping

By Shipping

E-commerce merchants in search of fulfillment vendors, do not necessarily look at a fulfillment solution in the context of both the pick & pack process and delivery solution. Sometimes, the solution is integrated and covers both primary functions of the fulfillment process. Other times, the merchant can be left to determine on their own, how they choose to distribute their product and which carriers and services to use once the products are picked and packed.

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Multiple Sales Channels and One 3PL: Pallet, Parcel or Both?

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The demise of the retail store model is being overplayed and over exaggerated.  The argument can be made that 15 years of store and retail chain closings is not just about consumers migrating in mass over to the e-commerce sales channel.  It can also be argued that many legacy model retail stores are failing because they deserved to fail by not responding to change in the retail marketplace and adjusting to different consumer buying habits. It was inevitable that retail had to shrink, but retail is not going away, and nor is the fulfillment model that supports the retail store.

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Order Fulfillment 3PLs Are Still Processing Amazon Shipments

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Here’s a quote frequently tied to Jeff Bezos with respect to focusing on the customer relationship:

“If there’s one reason we have done better than that of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on the customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word-of-mouth is so very, very powerful.”

The Amazon founder’s commitment to the customer experience grew partially from a disastrous 2013 holiday shipping season Read More

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Merchants: How to Choose the Best Ecommerce Fulfillment Model for You

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The growth of e-commerce has driven major change in the fulfillment center (FC) landscape with faster item-processing speeds and improved speed-to-market (delivery).  Additionally, enhanced electronic communication and notifications originating at the FC level are benefiting the merchant, carrier, and customer. However, it is still a challenge to find the FC that best serves a merchant’s unique requirements as one size does not fit all.

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The Great E-commerce Fulfillment Center Squeeze

By Supply Chain Management

The pandemic has impacted nearly all parts of the global supply chain and e-commerce fulfillment is not immune to the condition.  Covid-19-driven consumer behavioral change has resulted in staggering e-commerce growth, which in turn, is putting tremendous pressure on e-commerce fulfillment centers (FCs).

The immediate impact has been FC demand almost exceeding capacity. The shortage of FCs is resulting in greater competition for limited capacity, which is driving increased rent. Labor and facility rent are the two most costly components of operating a fulfillment center.

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23 Factors to Consider When Deciding to Outsource Order Fulfillment

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The decision to outsource order fulfillment is a critical one for many growing e-commerce operations. Businesses have many order fulfillment service provider (SP) options. Each SP has a unique service offering and ways of conducting business. The steps below will help guide your decision-making process so your ecommerce company can outsource order fulfillment profitably and in line with customer needs and expectations.

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Putting the ROI in Robotics: Task-Specific Warehouse Automation

By Supply Chain Management

Robotic fulfillment solutions are a hot topic right now. There are numerous YouTube videos out there demonstrating how merchandise racks are autonomously moving about in fulfillment centers, on the backs of tiny robotic transport vehicles. These robots are taking merchandise racks to their human counterparts for individual items to be picked, packed, and shipped.

Large merchants like Amazon would have you thinking that nearly all their fulfillment centers operate with robots that pick, pack, and ship their merchandise orders. However, that is not the case.  Human hands are still picking, packing, and shipping most e-commerce merchandise orders in both large and small fulfillment centers across America.

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How Does Intelligent Fulfillment Improve the 3PL Service Offering?

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Intelligent Fulfillment (IF) is the use of various integrated technologies and best-in-class processes to perform product fulfillment in the most cost-efficient manner possible in line with clients’ needs and expectations.  It is one of the earmarks of a modern, tech-empowered 3PL.  Ideally, an order fulfillment service provider implements intelligent fulfillment practices to differentiate their service offering from their competitors and better position their organization to retain and gain new business by offering a superior client experience.

Implementing and integrating advanced technology can cost a lot of money and smaller fulfillment service providers may believe that intelligent fulfillment solutions are not within their budgetary reach.  However, there are lower-cost component parts of an IF solution that can serve as a starting point for small organizations to slowly move forward towards embracing intelligent fulfillment with the goal of protecting their competitive standing.

10 Intelligent Fulfillment Goals and Opportunities for 3PL Companies

  1. Integrate existing technology platforms to drive a better synchronized fulfillment experience for the organization and client.
  2. Implement new technology that extends real-time inventory views to the client and results in an overall, improved inventory management experience for both the fulfillment service provider and the client.
  3. Embrace technology upgrades that support omni-channel marketing/fulfillment solutions to best support clients operating across various marketplace platforms.
  4. Focus on improving order management technology first, and ensure that new technology supports various customer delivery, store pickup or carrier access point delivery options.
  5. Work towards identifying all fulfillment related costs and embrace technology platforms that support management of those identified costs.
  6. Constantly work with your management team on long-term planning and identifying process optimization/best practices.  Implement those practices across the workforce and seek out technology solutions that support and measure the results of newly implemented best practices.
  7. Seek out the best professional talent possible, and understand that retaining legacy employees in key positions that lack the necessary skillset are detrimental to the long-term success of the organization.
  8. Understand that the up-front cost for implementing new technology should result in lower unit processing cost down the line.  It is all about leveraging those up-front costs against future operating cost reductions.
  9. Engage in demand forecasting and link projected increases/changes in business to proactive capacity improvements, ahead of actual volume increases. AI based technology can support this function but can also be costly.
  10. Do not resist up-front investments in technology designed to protect the long-term competitive positioning of the organization or  to survive in an increasingly competitive environment.

The continued growth of e-commerce presents a tremendous opportunity for 3rd party order fulfillment service providers to prosper.  However, the competitive environment is intense and failure to embrace Intelligent Fulfillment goals and objectives could lead to organizational failure, even in the midst of amazing e-commerce growth. Finally, if you can’t measure the results of change, don’t implement change, just for the sake of change.