This year, the holiday season may look a little different than past years. Now is the time for retailers to start preparing for order fulfillment during the 2020 holiday shopping season. Not only is it harder to predict consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is also a lot of uncertainty regarding the possibility of increased e-commerce shopping this holiday season. What can retailers expect in the upcoming months and what can you do to prepare? Here’s why you will need robust e-commerce fulfillment for the holiday season, and where you can get the support your need.
Everything changed when the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide—and the fulfillment industry was no exception. Fulfillment market trends for August 2020 are a result of the changes many organizations had to make to adapt to the new e-commerce landscape. From contactless delivery to boosting online presence, these changes since February have drastically shifted the fulfillment industry and businesses are expected to settle into this “new normal” as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are the key e-commerce market trends to know for 2020, so that you get up to speed.
Subscription box services are extremely popular, especially now during the pandemic. Customers enjoy receiving monthly deliveries of exclusive merchandise ranging from skincare products to tech gear to reading material and clothing. If your business offers subscription box services or other e-commerce deliveries, chances are that you’ve definitely seen some major growth in the last few months.
And if you haven’t had the opportunity to expand just yet, there will likely come a time in the near future when meeting customer demand and delivering orders on time becomes a challenge. As your customer base grows and as you attempt to provide more products, things can get overwhelming very quickly. So, how can you keep up with the demand and when should you outsource your subscription box fulfillment service? Here are some issues and challenges that signify now may be the right time to outsource your subscription box service.
Subscription box companies must deliver on their promise to provide quality products with every box they send out. Traditional packaging materials and boxes are not the way to do this. Most subscription box services will have customized packaging which add to the experience for customers when they receive them.
If you are having a difficult time customizing your packaging, it may be time to seek help from a third-party logistics provider. They can provide you with custom sticker designs and other external packaging options that reflect your brand and the products you offer. They will also ensure that you have all the internal packaging options that best suit the product you send. If you have fragile items, they can provide you with the right packing materials to secure your shipments.
Growth of Business
One thing that is inevitable with a successful subscription box company is growth. If you notice that customer orders are coming in faster than you can fill them, you put yourself in a dangerous position. During an increase in sales you will not have time to hire and train people while also building systems for your business. If you do not get a handle on the increased sales volume and fulfillment, you will not be able to meet customer demand and could lose business. If you work in the online world, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. If you do not deliver products on time, your customer will likely leave you for a competitor.
When you work with a subscription box fulfillment company, you can manage growth. They will handle the logistics of your subscription box business while you focus on your sales and marketing goals.
Volume Order Fluctuations
Depending on your goals, you may deliver subscription boxes weekly, biweekly, or monthly. In the periods between your delivery cycle, there are slow times where you can focus on other business priorities such as driving more sales.
With a 3PL partner, you will be working with a team that understands your business model. They can accommodate you by holding stock in their warehouse while waiting for your fulfillment date. This serves as an advantage instead of you paying for warehousing space and labour to keep up with high order volumes for only a week out of each month. With a 3PL provider you can have a more scalable model that provides you with the ability to meet peak order requirements without any permanent overhead costs.
Limited Delivery Time
Part of your strategy with subscription box marketing is to create enticement on social media for the delivery of your next box. To manage expectations and meet customer expectations, you must ensure that your boxes arrive in subscribers’ mailboxes around the same date.
Subscription box fulfillment companies can help you process your orders strategically so that you can meet these expectations. They will send out your orders based on customer location to ensure the delivery time is just right. With their established networks they can narrow the delivery window, ensuring that your customers get their boxes around the same time every month.
If you are too busy managing the fulfillment of your orders, you might end up skipping customer returns and customer service inquiries. If you cannot manage fulfillment and customer service, you will sink the reputation of your brand. Customers that are dissatisfied with brands are quick to go online and write scathing reviews about your company. If dozens of customers are complaining about you on social media, you will see a drop in your business.
With the help of a 3PL provider, you can better manage customer returns, customer service, and fulfillment. While you connect on a personal level with your customers, they will provide a high level of service that boosts your reputation.
Logistics Problems & Quality
As your subscription box service grows, you will need to scale your business to manage the effects of growth. The first place you will notice a dramatic change is with inventory. Effective inventory control is necessary to manage your logistics process properly. However, it is expensive and time-consuming to develop a software solution on your own. As a result, most small- to medium-sized businesses resort to licensing expensive software solutions to manage inventory.
A 3PL provider provides you instant access to their robust software systems. These systems can help you manage inventory and you may even access valuable technologies such as automation and robotics. By outsourcing to a 3PL partner, you can get the most out of their existing systems without breaking the bank. Their cloud-based solutions allow you to access vital inventory information from your laptop or mobile device anywhere in the world. You can observe what is happening with your inventory in real-time and check stock levels at multiple warehouses across the country. With their help you can get a bird’s eye view of your entire logistics process.
Contact APS Fulfillment, Inc. for Subscription Service
If you’re looking to scale your subscription box business to keep up with growth, there are many benefits to working with a 3PL provider. As previously explained, they manage everything from inventory management to shipping and can help you scale your business.
APS Fulfillment, Inc. is ready to help you by providing safe, secure, and clean warehousing, full-service CRM integration, a prime location near the port in Fort Lauderdale, and partnerships with all major delivery companies. We’ll help you reach your customers and grow your business to its fullest potential. Our services include e-commerce fulfillment, product fulfillment, returns processing, and more.
Contact us at 954-582-7450 or email [email protected] today to book a consultation and learn more about our customized 3PL services and how we can help you.
Why would any small but growing company choose to pay for fulfillment services for startups? Wouldn’t it make more sense to save that money and put it towards growing the company even more? While the cheaper option may sound like the better option, small business fulfillment services are extremely valuable, if not necessary as you grow. Once you look at how a growing business increases your responsibilities and your customer expectations, you will realize the need to hire a third-party fulfillment center (3PL). If you’ve been holding out on hiring a 3PL partner but notice your business is growing, here are some challenges they can help you with.
Challenges Faced by Startups
Understanding your customers’ needs and making wise decisions on how to manage them through inventory is a challenge in today’s buying environment. There are many problems faced in inventory management, but these issues come with solutions. Managing your inventory is more complex than it may seem. Here are some of the most common problems and challenges in inventory management, and how you can improve your business to overcome them.
Challenges in Inventory Management
Lack of Knowing Your Inventory
Being unaware of inventory levels has a largely negative impact on supply chains. Companies should make sure they have full visibility of their inventory at all times, to know when stock needs to be replenished. It is also important to understand what is in stock, what is going to be ordered, the size and quantity of the order, and what items need to be replenished. This can be a cumbersome task, but it is essential to ensuring profitable business operations.
In product fulfillment, failures can and will happen. While they may be impossible to predict, some are more common than others and can be easily prepared for.
Many product fulfillment businesses think having an e-fulfillment service means nothing can go wrong, but the online aspects of a business are just as prone to error as the offline ones.
You’re likely more than busy enough running your fulfillment company; after all, today’s fulfillment companies are large, multi-channel enterprises. It’s not just about taking orders and shipping them out; it’s also about delivering quality goods to loyal customers and, above all else, sustaining a high reputation.
As such, it can be difficult to keep things running smoothly. However, there are ways to make operating a fulfillment business easier. Check them out:
Product fulfillment services overall is a difficult industry, but the toy and game industry is an especially tough market. Several factors are against its success; the most prominent of which being the declining world birth rate, and the shift from children playing with physical toys to now being in the digital space.
Despite these challenges, the toy and game industry continues to grow and experts believe the industry will keep growing up until at least 2018. The key for toys and games fulfillment is an experienced logistics company who can manage the nuances of shipping to both B2B and B2C customers within this industry.
When dealing with product fulfillment services, “accuracy” is a term with multiple meanings. Aside from the obvious—getting the correct order to the correct customer—accuracy also means being able to fulfill the order within the promised time frame and delivering the product in good condition. In short, accuracy is how well your product fulfillment service can uphold your business’ most basic promise to the customer: that they will receive the item they ordered in the time frame that was promised and in proper condition.
It shouldn’t be surprising in our current online era that grocery stores are making the leap to digital. This shift has already taken place in countries like France and Germany, and it is methodically making its way to North America. But as the demand for online solutions to a traditionally in-store consumer activity continues to grow, there have also been some early challenges to online grocery product fulfillment.