2020 was the year of e-commerce, whether retailers were ready for it or not. When retail stores began to close or reduce operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that had already invested in their e-commerce platforms found themselves with an advantage over lagging competitors. They could keep selling to customers online, even if they had to close their brick-and-mortar stores for weeks or months at a time.
Now there is no question that e-commerce must be an essential part of any retail sales strategy, and smart business leaders are prioritizing it going forward. But fulfillment networks also need to adapt to meet changing e-commerce needs.
A recent Supply Chain Dive article outlined some of the main challenges retailers are facing in the new e-commerce landscape, along with recommendations for overcoming them. Here are # tips you can use to strengthen your company’s fulfillment networks to keep up with e-commerce demand:
- Outsource warehousing and fulfillment
Running your own distribution center can incur higher costs and limited flexibility. When you outsource warehousing and order fulfillment to a third-party logistics (3PL) specialist, you are better positioned to manage sales and inventory fluctuations while reducing operating, shipping, and staffing costs.
- Diversify your distribution
Using a single distribution center puts your business at risk for serious disruption. If local guidelines change and cause a shipment delay, or if a worker tests positive for COVID-19 and forces the closure of the warehouse, you don’t have a Plan B. Working with a fulfillment partner with a network of distribution centers diversifies your risk and gives you multiple backup plans to rely on in a crisis.
- Create omnichannel fulfillment
Fulfillment flexibility is crucial to a successful e-commerce strategy. Your long-term goal should be to achieve true omnichannel fulfillment. This means you have visibility into your entire inventory network, across all of your stores and distribution centers, and you could use any of them as potential fulfillment points when needed.
What are the biggest e-commerce and fulfillment challenges your business is facing? Contact Exegistics to see how we can design a custom warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution solution to meet your unique needs.