Recent years have seen a significant shift in the way consumers shop. This has led to notable changes in order fulfillment trends across seller landscapes. In e-commerce, especially, supply chain managers are starting to serve consumers directly.
According to Ryan Kelly of FedEx, this has led to a drive for ‘fast and free’ fulfillment solutions. “Consumers love fast. They love free. They overwhelmingly prefer free, but their expectations are that free gets faster.”
Unsurprisingly, then, online retailers with the best shipping, cost, and speed are all coming out on top. Companies looking to compete must find ways to work around them. But, what exactly are the order fulfillment trends that you should be looking out for?
Small Sellers In The Big-Time
According to third-party logistics providers (3PLs), it’s no longer enough to assume small customers have simple needs. Instead, the rise of social media and celebrity endorsements mean small brands can explode at any time. This, along with the fact that small online businesses stand side-by-side with global brands, means fulfillment is changing fast. And, 3PLs need to account for this in their warehouse solutions.
According to Kelly, a long-time FedEx employee, much larger order fulfillments are now standard in short time frames. She reports that “…small merchants are competing with really, really large companies and so they have got to meet the consumer expectations.” And, keeping on top with order fulfillment is their best chance of doing that.
The Onset of Omnichannel Sales
Remember, customers right now want ‘fast and free.’ Omnichannel sales achieve that by offering faster solutions than ever. Using localization from key’ flow centers,’ brands like Target are already better able to provide speedy delivery. And, they do it all with less cost to them or their consumers.
This is because such omnichannel focuses shorten lines between stores and warehouses. Far from outdated single orders, retailers now need single order management systems. These allow them to optimize shipping for sales and increased margins. As speed becomes ever-more the name of the game, that’s an order fulfillment trend guaranteed to pay.
As with every industry, technology has infiltrated warehouse solutions. This is evident in cloud computing, but also augmented reality. After all, the need for speed doesn’t start once products leave the space. Warehouses also need to implement efficient processes.
Products like AR glasses achieve that by simplifying picking processes. Early trials have even revealed increased employee satisfaction. This technology is so promising that DHL supply chain is already testing various pilots. Further, MHI expects such technology in 70% of their facilities in the next five years.
Online sales also allow companies to trade globally. Order fulfillment trends need to account for this to make the most of new markets. That means implementing tools to simplify everything from cross-border taxes to transportation expenses. Remember, after all, that consumers want items fast and free. Only by learning markets and adapting can 3PLs satisfactorily meet this order fulfillment trend. And, only then can e-commerce sellers truly compete.