Order fulfillment is defined as the steps involved in receiving, processing, and delivering orders to end customers. A fulfillment service is defined as a third-party company that provides these order fulfillment steps on behalf of another party, such as an online seller. The increase in e-commerce, combined with the types of purchases consumers are making, will change e-commerce fulfillment in new ways. The convenience of online shopping is shifting a larger share of the retail marketplace to e-commerce. This jump in online purchasing will lead to big changes for fulfillment centers, particularly as consumers purchase a larger variety of items from the comfort of their homes. The future of e-commerce holds an increase in perishable purchases online, demand for rapid fulfillment, a need for more warehouse space, and more direct-to-consumer brands creating a memorable unboxing experience. As a result, fulfillment centers will need to find ways to package more orders and ship them out faster.
Demands for rapid Ecommerce Fulfillment
Now brands are pressured to meet that new baseline delivery expectation in order to remain competitive. Consumers expect that same rapid fulfillment from every e-commerce experience, but that can pose a challenge for companies that lack the infrastructure to make it happen. E-commerce retailers may need to rethink logistics, including the possibility of creating micro warehouses. Faster picking and packing will also play a role in fulfilling the demand for rapid shipping and delivery by consumers.
Increased Need for Warehouse Space
Many fulfillment centers will need to consider how they can better utilize their existing spaces. Increasing square footage is something that will take time: finding real estate, signing leases, and/or constructing new warehouses. So, to run a successful ecommerce business warehouse services will have to be revamped and this is where dedicated fulfillment services will boom because business will reconsider outsourcing fulfillment services instead of bearing this cost.
Online Perishable Purchases Increase
Perishables need insulated packaging solutions and an efficient cold chain network to survive. Food items need to be packaged for optimal freshness, to reduce food waste and prevent bad experiences, like the smell of rotting produce wafting up during unboxing. Less food spoilage also reduces the need for re-shipping, which ultimately promotes a healthy environment. Plants are a separate matter and need the right combination of breathability, cushioning, insulation, and coolant (gel or ice packs) to ensure they make it to their destinations ready to flourish. As these types of purchases increase, brands will need to make sure they’re choosing the right types of packaging to protect perishables, and fulfillment centers will need to become better equipped to pack and ship perishables.
Ultimately, while e-commerce was gaining steam before the global pandemic, the stay-at-home orders provided even more traction. For e-commerce fulfillment centers, it will be critical to adapt to the increased demand by providing the appropriate packaging for the goods they’re shipping, reconfiguring logistics, optimizing existing warehouse space, and looking to improve the unboxing experience. Consumers have expectations, and if they’re not met, a new e-commerce retailer is just a click away.
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