Fulfillment’s Increasing Importance in the E-Commerce Supply Chain

Improved last-mile services can drive strategic growth for shippers and logistics providers alike.

Improved last-mile services can drive strategic growth for shippers and logistics providers alike.

As e-commerce continues to transform retail, its promise of quick and inexpensive delivery will only heighten consumer demand for personalized order fulfillment. For businesses planning to scale in the e-commerce economy, these shifting preferences make it essential to implement streamlined fulfillment solutions that control costs for price-conscious online shoppers while simultaneously minimizing overhead both for shippers and logistics providers.

To capitalize on the rise of e-commerce, however, online retailers and their logistics providers need to understand how the final stages of order fulfillment necessitate holistic changes throughout their supply chains. With so many customers expecting low-cost delivery options tailored to specific products and their personal schedules, they particularly need to hone their last mile fulfillment strategies. In short, online retailers need to structure their supply chains around the fulfillment process.

Customer Demand Drives Flexible Last-Mile Solutions

Online retailers may take pride in the precision of their supply chains, but if their last mile fulfillment options can’t meet consumer needs, they may still end up with disappointed customers. For example, shoppers who consistently get home late may be underwhelmed by vendors who don’t offer customizable delivery options throughout the day.

To meet these diverse consumer demands, Amazon has introduced Amazon Key, a service which allows delivery drivers to leave packages within a customer’s home thanks to a pre-approved access code. Similarly, UPS has introduced its My Choice service, which updates customers with tracking notifications that give them the option to reroute deliveries if needed. Online retailers should take note of these programs and work to give their customers similar power over order fulfillment. With accurate and frequent tracking information, businesses can make purchasing and order fulfillment a worry-free, strategically branded experience for their shoppers.

Oversized Merchandise Requires Comprehensive Planning

As oversized products such as furniture become increasingly available online, it’s become all the more important for retailers to guarantee fulfillment solutions for large items just as they would for any other. Designing last mile services for oversized products — some of which require assembly or installation — calls for a start-to-finish approach that spans the entire supply chain.

For example, equipment and freight configurations that work well for regular packages might not be optimal for furniture or appliances. Instead, the first stages of the supply chain need to prepare these products for a fast-paced fulfillment process that ends with “white glove” installation. Retailers may need to redesign packaging in order to fit these specific needs or partner with trained delivery services with proven track records.

Branded Delivery Experiences Foster Customer Loyalty

Customers who regularly use sophisticated fulfillment services have likewise come to expect well-curated unboxing experiences. While it’s important for retailers to work with shipping and logistics providers to streamline the delivery process and make it convenient for customers, it’s just as essential that product packaging conveys a unified, branded experience.

To that end, Thrive Market, an e-commerce company in Los Angeles specializing in healthy groceries, has opted for an in-house fulfillment operation in order to exert the greatest possible control over how customers receive their purchases. Because it markets to a consistently eco-friendly clientele, it’s designed a last-mile delivery service that uses minimal packing materials, a strategy that prioritizes customer expectations while solidifying the company’s reputation. As a result, it conveys its understanding of its shoppers’ consumer profile to them and subtly stresses that it shares their values.

Fulfillment Partners Minimize Pain Points While Optimizing Service

For small- and medium-sized businesses that want to provide customers with industrial-grade fulfillment services, it may not be possible to go it alone. Instead, they should consider working with third-party logistics (3PL) or integrated logistics services providers (ISP) to guarantee their clients high-quality last-mile services on a budget that works for everyone involved.

With more than two decades of experience in the shipping and logistics industry, Primary Freight has the infrastructure in place to fulfill your online orders with precision and professionalism. Whether you need a partner to deliver orders on customer-oriented timetables or hope to redesign packaging for oversized items to make them fulfillment-friendly, our team is ready to craft bespoke shipping solutions that work for your business.

If you’d like to learn more about how Primary Freight’s warehousing and distribution solutions, contact us today at (800)-635-0013.


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