The Role of E-Commerce in the Fulfillment Business (Part 2 of 3)
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E-commerce has been a growing trend over the past 10-12 years and has greatly changed the way packages are delivered. Now businesses that were regionalized in the past have national and international touchpoints, even though they haven’t moved their stores. By leveraging international shipping, retailers are now able to reach many more customers, including those who may not have had access to them in the past. Leveraging e-commerce reduces the cost of carrying items and enables retailers to be more competitive in a global market.
The growth in e-commerce has changed the fulfillment business. As Nathan Rucker, Director of Strategic Accounts at ProShip explains, “Retailers are now fulfilling directly to customers, getting packages to them as fast as possible. This is a growing business, with double-digit sales increases expected for the majority of large e-commerce retail fulfillment companies in the U.S. over the next few years.”
Fulfillment has traditionally focused on bulk movement, with the breakbulk (loading goods individually) process happening very close to the buyer, usually in a retail environment. Omnichannel has changed this. Traditionally, bulk merchandise was received and broken down into smaller quantities in a store. Now this is happening as far back in the supply chain as the manufacturer. This means that goods cannot only be delivered from a retailer or distributor, but also directly from the manufacturer.
In a 2013 survey, United Parcel Service (UPS) partnered with comScore, a data analytics company, to explore global consumer shopping preferences. The survey concludes that retailers can win online shoppers over by:
- Providing a seamless omnichannel experience
- Supplying information on delivery options and shipping costs upfront
- Giving tracking information and keeping online consumers informed on delivery status
- Ensuring people receive their deliveries when they expect them
- Offering a hassle-free returns experience via the consumer’s channel of choice
This research clearly highlights the need for retailers to employ the right technology in order to ensure a multi-carrier service that offers speed, compliance and support, improving the overall customer experience across the globe.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this series: Omichannel Initiatives: Getting Started.
UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: September 2013 Global Study – conducted by comScore