The most anxious stage of the online shopping experience for a consumer probably comes after they order the product. Consumers know what they ordered, but aren’t always sure what will arrive in that package, or when that package will make its way to their doorstep. Flexible fulfillment services look to end that anxiety by being properly prepared in terms of inventory and logistics management.
What is Flexible Order Fulfillment?
Flexible order fulfillment is essentially when a business leverages its brick-and-mortar store as a distribution center capable of fulfilling orders. This means picking, packing, and shipping out to consumers, or preparing the product to have it picked up in store.
There are many benefits to developing flexible order fulfillment. Allowing this service enables businesses to better keep up with shifting customer demands and expectations. It also reduces the full strain of inventory responsibility from the warehouse and acts as another level to your omni-channel retail operation. Additionally, when stores have allowed for in-store pickup, statistics show that 45% of those customers make an additional purchase.
Many businesses are already seeing benefits from flexible fulfillment. As of last year, retailer Target has said that 25% of its online product orders are picked up in store. A survey by UPS shows that this trend is much more widespread. In fact, 48% of consumers in this survey have ordered products for pickup in store or ship to store.
The Importance of Flexibility in Order Fulfillment Services
The challenge of flexibility in order fulfillment is that retail stores must now improve their means of inventory. Staff should be able to locate items efficiently and have them prepared as seamlessly as they would in a formal warehouse. But that is a matter of technology and strategy. The payoff for this can be immense if done correctly.
- Maintaining a Good Relationship with Retailer: Your retailer is your connection to the consumer outside of your own platform. Poor logistics management negatively impacts this relationship. But flexible fulfillment allows businesses to improve its sales by better utilizing its assets and reducing the need for clearance or discount items.
- Managing Sudden Demand: Consumers today are fickle in terms of their loyalty to a brand. With the power of social media and celebrity influencers, you just never know when a certain product can become suddenly in demand. Having a flexible fulfillment strategy allows you to be better prepared to handle the influx of sales.
- Managing Sales Growth: Flexible fulfillment allows businesses to meet the shipping needs of its customers by ensuring it has the inventory ready to meet the demand. Having your inventory database synchronized means your business can pull from anywhere to manage its sales and optimize growth.
Qualities of the Best Flexible Order Fulfillment Companies
There are definitely specific qualities you should be looking for in your order fulfillment partners. Let’s detail a few:
- Active Listening: They need to be open to listening to opportunities and concern from all aspects of the logistical chain.
- Learning: Learning is never-ending. Your partners should be able to use what they’ve learned through their own experience and through their experience with your specific company to make changes and improvements to its services.
- Open Minded: Of course you want a partner who can be focused on creating and working within a strategic system, but there must be room for some creative input.
- A Collaborative Approach: What’s important to remember is that the consumer is part of this process, as well. Their needs to be transparency in the process for them so they feel confident in the service being provided. Logistics also involves several stages of activity, each will need to work effectively together if your business hopes to make good on its deliveries.
APS Fulfillment, Inc. helps our clients reach their flexible fulfillment goals. Contact us now so we can get you headed in the right direction when it comes to meeting the logistics needs for your business and your customers.