There is no doubt that the pandemic of COVID-19 has reshaped shopper behaviors - shifting from brick-to-mortar stores to eCommerce platforms, which leads to a surging demand for a more efficient and convenient eCommerce experience.

Is your eCommerce business capable of delivering an efficient order fulfilment especially during a hectic holiday season?

Imagine during those busy holiday periods, such as The Single’s Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Thanksgiving Day, online sales may be a hundred times more than usual due to the exclusive seasonal offers provided on various eCommerce platforms. Such an excessive number of online orders will certainly lead to operational challenges and potential errors if we do not have a well-structured and well-organised workflow.

During a holiday season, you may find the issues below relatable and puzzling:

  • Inefficient Inventory Allocation
  • Damaged Inventory
  • Insufficient Warehouse Space
  • Shipping Fraud
  • Packaging Complexity
  • Inaccurate Sales Prediction
  • Inadequate Customer Service
  • Massive Order Returns & Exchange

These will not only create obstacles that lower your service efficiency but also adversely affect customer satisfaction and the brand image as a whole.

Hence, it is very important for you to consider:

  • How to enhance your warehouse responsiveness to handle all the sudden surge in online sales?
  • How to deal with such a wide variety of consumer goods that requires different packaging or shipping methods?
  • How to maintain a highly sustainable & efficient order fulfillment along with a sales surge?
  • How to minimize human errors and order delays from happening?

To tackle the hustles, you can leverage smarter solutions to transform challenges into potential opportunities!

The most direct way is to take advantage of professional third-party logistics (3PL) providers in fulfilling the gaps in your supply chain.

3PL providers offer end-to-end fulfillment solutions, covering from storing, warehousing, order picking and packing to shipping and returning, helping eCommerce businesses to achieve a more effective distributed order management. More importantly, 3PLs help cultivate a more agile and responsive supply chain to optimize the integration of eCommerce and order fulfillment.

How can 3PLs help you cope with the challenges?

1. Optimize Your Inventory Control & Warehouse Management

During a holiday peak season, predicting sales volumes can be a nightmare – and it would be impractical for SMEs to spend extra money on larger warehouse spaces and a responsive warehouse management system (WMS) merely for that one-off surge in sales.

3PL embraces smart warehousing technologies, e.g. automation technologies, IoT systems and robots, to enhance the overall productivity, accuracy and efficiency, which helps strive for an effective WMS and inventory control in the most cost-effective way.

Check out how we can elevate the smartness in your eCommerce with AI & machine learning:

To be specific, a 3PL may adopt automation technologies and a cloud-based fulfillment platform to synchronize and consolidate important data into one easily accessible e-platform and turn it into useful information for, i.e., real-time statistical analysis, accurate planning capabilities, accurate demand forecasting, accurate stock counting and lightning-fast reporting.

This will greatly increase the visibility of your supply chain, as in realizing effective tracking to monitor your real-time inventory, the status of all shipments and stock levels etc. After all, such data visibility holds the key to enhance the responsiveness of your eCommerce business – thus you will be capable of handling the unpredictable sale spikes!

2. Elevate and Accelerate Your Picking and Packing Process

With the variety of consumer goods comes different handling requirements.

Given that products come in different forms and dimensions - and some sensitive (i.e. temperature-sensitive, pressure-sensitive) products have to be handled with extra cautions, the requirements for packaging and labelling can vary a lot, which add up the complexity of order fulfillment. For instance, merchants need to consider special methods to avoid frozen food from defrosting during delivery; and there are special regulations concerning the transport of lithium batteries.

With the professional knowledge and experience in handling different consumer goods, 3PLs know what to do and what works the best in order to strive for faster-than-ever order fulfilment.

Alongside, 3PLs may utilize robotic packing technologies that systemize every process to maintain consistent quality, enhance packaging efficiency, and reduce human errors that can lead to drastic financial losses.

3. Easy Product Returns & Exchanges

Having a well-designed return policy helps build customers’ buying confidence, as in having fewer concerns to place an order if they know they can return unwanted items at ease. To illustrate, by offering free returns, customers will not have to pay extra for return shipping; and by covering the return shipping, customers will not have to queue in brick-and-mortar stores during a holiday season.

With the expertise of 3PLs, product returns can be managed with high responsibility and flexibility. You can work hand in hand with a trustworthy 3PL to catch on to the omnichannel fulfillment trend, bringing the greatest convenience to your customers.

Simplifying your eCommerce return policy with easy returns and exchanges enhances customer retention and loyalty, winning the hearts and minds of your customers with the top-notch service recovery paradox. This, as part of your after-sale customer services, tops up your competitiveness in the eCommerce battlefield!

With the support of 3PL, you can focus on your core competencies without compromising internal resources for other business activities.

While outsourcing your order fulfilment to a 3PL adds up your expenses, this is undoubtedly a value-adding long-term investment that brings great returns to your eCommerce business in terms of operational efficiency, supply chain management, and customer satisfaction.

The effective management of order fulfilment can always be a tipping point for you to outperform – let’s prepare for the upcoming battle during the 2021 holiday season!