Asian lift truck driver and foreman in storageWith the new year approaching, now is a good time to start planning ahead for how your e-commerce business will handle the demands of 2016. The growing shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online ordering and fulfillment can present a host of opportunities, but only if you’re savvy enough to stay at the forefront of what consumers are going to be demanding. Here are some trends that are expected to become a central focus of e-commerce fulfillment strategies throughout 2016.

Automated Processing

One of the advantages of online ordering is that it allows for a level of customization that is not always possible with predetermined physical purchases. Instead of shipping large pallets or racks to stores on a regular basis, companies are now sending out individualized orders. This means that automated systems that can respond to customer input and adapt on the fly are going to be more valuable than ever. Cloud computing will enable a unified approach to inventory and supply management across all stages of the supply chain right up until the product arrives at a customer’s doorstep.

Global Demand

The world is going to keep getting smaller as the internet age advances. Cross-border e-commerce means that not only do supply and delivery channels need to adapt to large distances but also that retailers need to be prepared to handle a range of different currencies. This can include anything from having your web site set up to take foreign tender, accepting digital currencies like Bitcoin, or becoming more familiar with the billing practices of other nations. Any of these can help keep the online process streamlined and promote better order fulfillment and efficiency.

Delivery Competition and Regional Fulfillment

For companies who sell similar products, competitive pricing alone may not be enough. Staying on top of your rivals means being able to offer better shipping and delivery options in terms of timing and cost. This is where the growth of regional distribution centers will come in. These are central hubs that are strategically located to allow maximum delivery speed within a given area.

Manufacturers Entering the Field

Since e-commerce has such a low barrier to entry, more product manufacturers are going to be entering the market to see to consumers directly. Your supplier may end up being your competitor and have a distinct advantage since it can offer lower prices by virtue of not having to buy products wholesale.

Managing these new players requires diversity and creativity. Online retailers can try to expand their offerings by adding unique or private-label products, or by including a wider selection. The good news is that this threat does not apply to all manufacturers, so it’s possible that the one your company uses doesn’t have any e-commerce ambitions of its own.

APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a specialist in direct-mail marketing and warehouse fulfillment and is based in Miami, Florida. We’ve stored, sorted, and delivered products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies and are more than prepared for the exciting challenges awaiting us in the new year. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or by email at [email protected] for more ways third-party warehousing and fulfillment services can support and grow your business.

Also Read: Sustainable E-Commerce Fulfillment: Bettering the Planet and Improving Business Growth