As your business continues to expand its reach through multichannel sales, many internal operations will become more complex. One such operation is order fulfillment, a key driver of customer satisfaction and retention. Many marketplaces and sales channels offer their own fulfillment programs, but segmenting these processes across multiple providers does not allow for the visibility or flexibility needed for a quickly-growing business to compete. Similar to managing multichannel listings with a multichannel selling software, the key to successful multichannel fulfillment is to integrate and automate wherever possible.
Choosing a single integrated fulfillment provider allows businesses to manage all sales channels through one fulfillment network, creating efficiencies that cut down on excess warehouse space and inventory carry costs. These efficiencies reduce inbound shipments to multiple fulfillment providers, consolidate safety stock, and give you the flexibility to dial down or turn off under-performing sales channels and easily redirect inventory without moving it to a new facility. A fully integrated warehouse management system also allows for data to be aggregated to help you identify sales patterns and make proactive decisions regarding which sales channels to focus on, where to strategically stock your inventory, and whether your business may have seasonal trends that you can capitalize on.
With a wide range of outsourced fulfillment options, from traditional 3PL’s to on-demand warehousing solutions, the search for the ideal partner for your business may seem overwhelming. Below are a few qualities to consider when comparing your options.
Flexibility and Scalability
The broad reach you’ve given your business by expanding to multiple marketplaces and sales channels has made your fulfillment needs endlessly more complex and intricate. You’ve expanded your sales into new geographic markets, agreed to various SLA’s according to the platform, and are now serving both B2B and B2C customers because you have embraced the new Business to Everyone (B2E) model of business. Your order mix has also become more complex. Not only are you now fulfilling small parcel, LTL, and FTL, but you have multiple packaging requirements and retail compliance to consider.
Allergy-friendly baking mix brand, Hungry Harry’s, knows this pain all too well. Co-founders Sarah and Rob had a highly successful ecommerce store on their hands, but they knew that any long-term growth strategy for a food and beverage brand would inevitably involve expansion into supermarkets, both local and chains. Already having the manufacturing capabilities in place to meet the demands of major retail sales, they knew they needed to secure the fulfillment capabilities to serve both their current ecommerce customer base and their eventual retail partners. By partnering with an on-demand warehousing and logistics provider they were able to fulfill any order size and meet retail compliance requirements without adding additional staff or operational burden to their team. This gave them the confidence to secure the major retail distribution deal they had long been hoping for, knowing that their supply chain was fully capable.
Expanding your sales channels not only makes your operations more complex, but also positions your business for rapid growth. A truly scalable fulfillment partner will have the ability to flex up inventory capacity, warehouse labor, and shipping capabilities at a moment’s notice through effective partnerships and comprehensive technology. Sports recovery drink O2, capitalized on this kind of flexibility when they saw a major spike in ecommerce demand after their retail gym partners shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By leaning into a new sales channel, they grew their business by five fold in a matter of weeks, and not only were they able to keep up with demand, but they won lifetime customers with their speedy and reliable fulfillment.
In order to translate your multichannel sales strategy into long-term growth, find a fulfillment partner with the flexibility to fulfill all orders through a single platform and warehouse network and the scalability to grow with you to meet unexpected spikes in demand. This type of partner allows you to increase your revenue without significantly adding to your operations costs, positioning you for explosive growth.
Visibility and Insights
A high-quality multichannel fulfillment partner will be a valuable addition to your team with technology to offer high levels of visibility into fulfillment statuses, inventory levels, and on-time delivery. They will also equip you with valuable insights to help with demand forecasting and identifying potential growth issues down the road. A dynamic, forward thinking partner will help you better understand your current customer footprint and how fulfillment can be optimized to improve your delivery speed and cost to serve. As your sales channels continue to grow, your fulfillment partner should also assist in interpreting sales patterns and seasonal trends to more accurately predict inventory volumes and set specific and often automated reorder points. These insights will help you plan ahead for market expansion opportunities with inventory planning and proper warehouse network placements to offer the same premium service levels across all sales channels.
Multichannel Fulfillment Drives Growth
As you grow your sales channels to meet customers where they’re shopping, consider the entire customer journey through delivery and even returns. The growing customer expectation for fast, affordable delivery is the new reality of the digital economy, and merchants who continue to expand their channels to adopt the B2E model are challenged to deliver a seamless experience across all channels whether their end customers are B2B or B2C. Finding a multichannel fulfillment partner to meet all the needs of your growing business through a single platform with a distributed network is the key to long-term multichannel success.
To learn more about how Ware2Go is helping merchants simplify their multichannel fulfillment reach out to one of our logistics experts.