Looking ahead to peak season 2021, e-commerce order fulfillment is under the same – if not more – pressure than peak season 2020. Consumer demand continues to overpower the supply chain, and shippers are scrambling to overcome production bottlenecks, mitigate skyrocketing freight costs, and find more parcel capacity to achieve on-time delivery.
The key to success in this no-longer-unique-but-still-challenging landscape is agility, specifically in the form of omnichannel distribution strategies. Successful shippers will have the ability to pull multiple e-commerce order fulfillment levers – such as ship from distribution center or warehouse; ship from store; buy online pickup in store (BOPIS); buy online pickup curbside (BOPIC); and buy online, return in-store. But to pull these various levers, shippers must have a distribution infrastructure in place that includes:
- A cloud multi-carrier shipping system: A cloud multi-carrier shipping system seamlessly integrates with a retailer’s WMS, OMS, e-commerce, and ERP solutions to automate high volume, multi-carrier, omnichannel shipping. Regardless of which delivery option a customer chooses, the system automatically selects the right carrier service for each order according to parcel origin, parcel destination, carrier contracts, and business rules; and creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents. Therefore, retailers can satisfy customers’ delivery requirements and drive down the cost of shipping while transforming logistics into a profit center within the business.
- A diversified transportation network: In addition to the traditional “big 3” carriers and regional logistics providers, an omnichannel distribution strategy that includes ship-from-store requires a local carrier network catering to the retail footprint; this network increasingly should include gig economy fulfillment carriers such as Shipt, Postmates, DoorDash, Instacart, and others, to meet fulfillment schedules (often same or next day)
Strategies to Improve E-Commerce Parcel Shipping
The truth is, if you don’t already have omnichannel distribution strategies in place, it might be too late for peak season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now for next year. Here are some things to consider:
- Prioritize cloud. Executing shipping fulfillment workflows with an on-premise software system requires manual touches from people and equipment to help parcels move efficiently. Shipping operations are dependent on their own servers to scale, maintain security, and remain compliant with ongoing carrier updates. Not surprisingly, when faced with a surge in demand or a supply chain disruption, bottlenecks occur. And when orders don’t make it out the door in time, customer satisfaction is at risk.In contrast, a cloud-based supply chain improves a shipper’s abilities to anticipate risk, improve transparency and coordination across order fulfillment workflows, and manage issues that arise from increasing distribution complexity. With the cloud, you can maintain on-time delivery rates while reducing operations costs in any shipping landscape. The right solution will perform no matter the number of parcels moving through your distribution network each day, and you can integrate your parcel shipping system in the cloud with supply chain technology such as WMS, OMS, and e-commerce systems – quickly simplifying the complexity of omnichannel distribution by seamlessly sharing critical order fulfillment information throughout the organization. Suddenly, you can execute any parcel movement – ship-from-store, BOPIS, same-day-at-home delivery, and more – all at the optimal cost and with no manual intervention.
- Implement Control Tower and Business Intelligence Technology Numerous shippers have started prioritizing improvements in parcel delivery tracking and transparency across all carriers in their transportation network by utilizing Control Tower technology, which provides greater visibility into a product’s delivery journey and flags potential delivery disruptions to improve customer service.And when a cloud-based Control Tower is paired with Business Intelligence technology, shippers can normalize shipping data and execute quick, real-time analyses. Companies have loads of information at their fingertips and can look at their transportation costs in a deeper way, identifying problems, zeroing in on their root causes, and uncovering opportunities to improve. With better information, shippers gain the necessary flexibility to continuously optimize their fulfillment and shipping strategies in any shipping scenario and transform fulfillment processes while slashing costs over the long term.
- Expand your carrier network. Capacity crunches impede a shipper’s ability to meet their customers’ on-time delivery expectations. With major carriers like UPS and FedEx routinely announcing increased shipping surcharges and daily package capacity caps for peak season, while also dropping smaller freight clients altogether, shippers are rightfully seeking more regional and local carriers to incorporate into their carrier networks to pick up the slack. Regional and local carriers can usually offer next-day ground delivery within 400 miles of a shipment’s origin – often at a lower rate and with fewer surcharges than national carriers.
Power Omnichannel Distribution with Logistyx
The right technology will improve e-commerce order fulfillment and enable you to successfully meet increasing demand. To learn more about how Logistyx can modernize your workflows for peak season and beyond, watch our webinar: Embrace the Unprecedented Pace and Scale of Parcel Shipping Technology.