August 16, 2019

4 Ways Technology is Revolutionizing ecommerce Order Fulfillment

For the past few years, the need for a useful eCommerce order fulfillment software has become more crucial as the battle between the two top consumer concerns – the speed of delivery and affordability – rages.
Kirby Tifverman

For the past few years, the need for a useful eCommerce order fulfillment software has become more crucial as the battle between the two top consumer concerns – the speed of delivery and affordability – rages.

Consumers want their items delivered to them the quickest and cheapest method possible. As such, the industry has undergone a significant shift in mindset where more supply chain managers now directly serve the consumers.

The order fulfillment system has become customer service, operations and marketing rolled into one. Consequently, the system became a major game-changer both for eCommerce companies and fulfillment service providers. At the same time, it has also become a major purchasing factor for customers. They pick the e-tailer to order from based on delivery speed or cost. 

Below are some ways recent innovations in eCommerce order fulfillment are changing businesses:

1. It levels the playing field

Fulfillment customers are changing, and so are their needs. As such, third-party logistics (3PL) providers are adopting eCommerce order fulfillment software to meet their increasing demands better.

Gone are the days when the needs of customers commensurate to their size. The notion that needs only become much more complex as customers grow no longer holds. Customers today are ahead of their life cycle, with their supply chain needs and demands becoming far more complex and challenges coming sooner than their maturity. 

Social media, along with other new ways to draw customers, is driving the shift. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like can push a relatively new brand or single product to the forefront overnight. When combined with the enormous number of online retail channels that even the smallest merchants can take advantage of, eCommerce order fulfillment processes can become hardly manageable, especially for many small teams.

The digital world, at the same time, has leveled the playing field for brands. It has put small local firms on equal footing with large multinational players, in terms of meeting consumer expectations.

2. It fine-tunes stockouts

The omnichannel distribution is another way by which retailers meet the increasing demand of consumers. The line that differentiates warehouses from stores as far as eCommerce is concerned is getting thinner. To hasten delivery, a single order made online comprising of 10 items could arrive as 10 individual deliveries from 10 various locations. What this implies, however, is that stocking a store becomes more difficult now compared at a time when foot traffic was the only sales driver. This, along with an increasing inclination toward small inventories, results to stockouts.

A study from IHL Group in 2018 found that stockouts are costing retailers about $1 trillion. Consumers overall experience out-of-stocks once in every three shopping trips.  To recoup some of the amounts, the study suggests that choosing the right eCommerce order fulfillment software is necessary other than improving vendor management and incentives.

IHL Group notes that eCommerce fulfillment models that can support inventories, regardless of the delivery channel and its location is essential. It added that it has to be smart enough in optimizing the shipping for optimal sales or margin.

3. It boosts the need for Augmented Reality

In order to deliver fast, shippers do not only need to hasten transportation speed. They also have to enhance their warehousing process while orders remain under their control. Leading names in the industry are already deploying augmented reality (AR) technology to improve their workers’ speed and skills in fulfilling orders.

Wearables are one type of AR technology which is currently popular among warehouses. Smart glasses, for instance, can help the staff determine the proper arrangement of goods in a cart in a faster and more accurate manner. A study by MHI in 2018 forecasts that 70% of warehouses will adopt wearables over the next five years.

4.      It increases global sales

Borders no longer limit businesses. As digital integration among global economies continues, companies are now finding ways to fulfill orders to new markets more efficiently, from choosing the best types of cash registers to using advanced analytics platforms.  Cultural similarities, shared language, and proximity are no longer the defining factors of a natural market for a particular business. More shoppers are now buying from international retailers and expecting fast delivery regardless of their origin.

Building 3PL capabilities to hasten the delivery of parcels from one place to another makes wonder but is not enough. To ease the fulfillment of orders across borders, digital tools that can simplify transportation costs, duties, and taxes for both the merchants and consumers are crucial. 

Technologies driving fulfillment

The order fulfillment process in the past has been marred by inefficiencies, which cost trillions in the wasted workforce, money, and time. But thanks to advanced technology, including eCommerce order fulfillment software, capabilities of industry players have evolved, the purchasing decision process becomes more efficient, and the customer experience has improved.

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