Let’s rewind the clock back many years…
2009 marked a pivotal year for worldwide ecommerce, as larger organizations began investing in what appeared to be more than just a fleeting consumer preference for online shopping. Over the years, ecommerce penetration in the US would continue to climb thanks to marketplace leaders like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, who helped create sustainable multichannel ecosystems for new and well-established online and in-store brands.
In 2020, however, everything changed. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, US ecommerce penetration saw 10 years' worth of growth in just three months. Whether we knew it then or not, ecommerce would never be the same.
Fast forward to 2021, and we’re now in a completely new, and for many, foreign retail landscape. Accompanying the new normal in ecommerce sales trends and supply chain management is a brand new generation of consumers. They are well informed, price-conscious, and have high expectations of their online purchasing experience.
While the haze of 2020 is still subsiding for most online brands and resellers, many are left wondering how they establish a more sustainable fulfillment strategy that speaks to the higher demand for online goods and services. Below, we’ll discuss four areas of optimization that ecommerce businesses can address to ensure their 2021 fulfillment strategy is relevant and profitable.
In order to meet the growing demand of today’s online retail consumers, it’s important to invest in the right solutions to streamline your multichannel fulfillment initiatives.
Diversify Your ecommerce Channels
There is no shortage of ways for companies to convert new business in today’s retail landscape. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento give businesses the tools and scalability they need to develop highly marketable and consumer-friendly websites designed to advertise and sell their products across multiple countries.
In addition to business-driven ecommerce platforms are large online retail sites like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Newegg that enable third-party sellers to list and sell their items while leveraging the brand authority and global presence of well-known ecommerce giants. While many organizations choose a singular focus of either managing a business-driven ecommerce platform or selling as a third party through a large online retailer, diversifying assortments across multiple marketplaces can prove to be a viable option for growing businesses.
Establishing a multichannel fulfillment strategy can benefit organizations in a variety of ways. Rather than limiting online sales to one specific platform, online brands can maximize their retail exposure by selling on multiple ecommerce platforms while minimizing the business sustainability risks associated with platform downtime, increased marketplace competition, and retailer-specific fulfillment disruptions.
Streamline Your Order Management Processes
While the most recent surge in ecommerce growth has created significant growth potential for online brands, this new state of retail hasn’t come without its challenges. With increased demand across multiple channels comes increased workload and a higher likelihood of order entry errors, inventory management issues, and product listing inaccuracies.
To meet the growing demands of the online retail space, brands need to use the right tools and solutions to help them streamline their order management process while providing a higher level of service to their customers. Solutions like StoreAutomator give brands complete visibility into all of their multichannel solutions, creating a unified order management view that maximizes efficiencies in the order-to-cash cycle.
More than just streamlining order management processes, however, listing solutions like StoreAutomator helps organizations simplify the process of creating, monitoring, and managing catalog listings across multiple marketplaces. Rather than struggling to maintain listing consistency and pricing accuracy across business-driven platforms and third-party retail sites, organizations can syndicate their cataloging needs all from one place, seamlessly pushing the changes to appropriate channels in real-time.
Invest in Scalable Fulfillment Solutions
A major side effect of the growing demand in ecommerce is an increase in supply chain constraints. Rising shipping costs and increased carrier delays have forced many brands to rethink their strategy for fulfilling orders for their customers. In support of a multichannel fulfillment model, most organizations are starting to move away from direct fulfillment and relying on third-party fulfillment services to help scale their business.
Third-party logistics, also known as 3PL, gives online retailers a scalable way to grow their business while offloading all warehousing and fulfillment needs to another partner. Third-party logistics partners can be contracted to facilitate a number of services including, warehousing and storage, picking and preparing orders for shipment, coordinating customer deliveries through multiple carriers, and cross-docking and freight forwarding services. Larger ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart provide 3PL services to their retailers as part of their fulfillment network.
One of the primary benefits for businesses who outsource their fulfillment needs is that they have more time to focus on their core business. While the organization focuses on introducing new products to their assortment, expand into new markets, and increase exposure through advertising, 3PL services ensure that the customer experience remains seamless and streamlines the order-to-cash process.
Improve Communication Workflows
As ecommerce sales have continued to grow in various sectors, competition for market share has continued to rise along with it. As businesses look for more innovative ways to attract customers and increase retention, consumers have begun developing higher expectations when purchasing goods online.
A major differentiator between one ecommerce brand and another is a dedicated focus on improving the overall customer experience. This isn’t easy, as there are various touch points businesses need to manage when coordinating orders to fulfillment teams while also keeping the customer informed on the statuses of their purchased goods.
The best way to improve customer experiences across multichannel platforms is by implementing solutions that help you improve your communication workflows. When utilizing shipping management solutions and integrating them with your current systems, customers can get real-time order notifications and shipping updates that reduce frustrations and improve relationships.
Putting It All Together
Managing an ecommerce business in 2021 is an entirely new journey for many companies, suppliers, and fulfillment partners. But while the rules of the game may have changed considerably over the years, online retail is still positioned to be an incredibly profitable industry for organizations willing to capitalize on it.
The road to success is in the diversification of your ecommerce approach, new automations in your order-to-cash process, improved coordination with the right fulfillment partners, and smart investments in order management solutions that give you the visibility and control you need to scale your business effectively.