What to Look for in an E-Commerce Fulfillment Provider
E-commerce fulfillment isn’t easy, and all e-commerce fulfillment companies aren’t created equal. Whether you're an established or emerging brand, finding the right fulfillment partner is the key to meeting your business goals and making your customers happy. All roads lead back to fulfilling orders quickly, efficiently, flexibly, scalably, and cost-effectively.
The difference between excelling with a reliable e-commerce fulfillment provider and struggling with an unreliable one can make or break your bottom line, not to mention your brand reputation and customer loyalty. To be on the right side of the divide, assess your current and/or vet any prospective e-commerce fulfillment provider for the following:
Speed to Market
With e-commerce now ingrained in our everyday lives, customer demand—both in terms of volume and expectations—will continue to rise. As the “Amazon Effect” has consumers expecting shipping in two days or less, customer expectations for delivery times continue to shorten dramatically. Many major retailers are even shifting to next-day or same-day delivery. In order to meet customer demands, first and foremost, you need a fulfillment provider that can get orders out the door daily. Same-day fulfillment capabilities are becoming increasingly important as brands battle to provide superfast shipping and a seamless e-commerce experience. During peak seasons like the holidays, simply keeping up is not enough; your provider needs to be thinking and planning ahead to ensure on-time deliveries at 5x or even 10x the usual volume.
Different industries have different needs and considerations for e-commerce fulfillment. Your provider should have a track record of fulfilling orders for your type of business and products. At ODW Logistics, we specialize in fulfillment for personal care and healthcare, food and beverage, fast-moving consumer goods, and automotive and industrial manufacturing. Learn more about our industry expertise and tailored approach for each vertical we serve. When it comes to fast-moving consumer goods for e-commerce, it’s all about supply chain visibility. We’re also seeing the impact of e-commerce on food and beverage brands in the age of online grocery delivery.
We have all learned to expect the unexpected and seen how the unexpected can disrupt if not completely break any given supply chain. No business is immune to global crises and conflicts, and it doesn’t necessarily take a wide-reaching event to cause disruption. Businesses navigate supply chain complexities small and large every day, ideally with an experienced e-commerce fulfillment provider leading the way.
More than in brick-and-mortar, e-commerce requires a logistics provider to anticipate and adapt to challenges, while simultaneously keeping orders moving. When choosing a provider, present specific supply chain issues you've experienced in the past and ask how they've dealt with similar situations for other customers. Their answers should show the ability to solve problems fast and quickly pivot when needed.
Distribution Center Location
A strategically located shipping hub can give your business a leg up on meeting customers’ delivery demands in an e-commerce world. “For example, you can reach over 90% of the U.S. in just two days via lower-cost ground service instead of expedited shipping if you have strategically located [distribution centers],” one logistics executive said.
CNBC tabbed Ohio as the new e-commerce capital for the development of logistics centers, thanks to the state’s geographic location, easy access to major interstate highways, railways, talent pool, and other factors. Columbus in particular has proven that notion to be true for Ohio-based ODW. “Columbus is a market that has a lot of good attributes in terms of distribution, access, and availability of parcel carriers that offer competitive rates,” said Jeff Clark, ODW’s executive vice president. ODW Logistics operates 29 distribution centers across the US and manages B2B and DTC ecommerce fulfillment to meet our clients needs.
Because e-commerce fulfillment can be labor intensive, newer e-commerce fulfillment centers are using warehouse automation to reduce costs and increase efficiency for shippers. “We leverage the appropriate automation and technology to drive efficiencies for our clients. One particular distribution center in Columbus incorporates an A-Frame sortation system that can process up to 3,000 orders per hour and a right-sizing carton technology that cuts and seals the parcel to the ideal dimensions and eliminate dunnage, shared Jeff Clark.
Shippers are leaning into ODW’s warehouse automation in their own ways based on their business needs. A carton erector, an A-frame conveyor, and an automated carton sealer and lidding machine drive efficiency for a leading cosmetics company. Meanwhile, a food and beverage distributor enjoys a highly automated fulfillment center including robotic combi, voice-picking, multi-shuttle, and a robotic palletizer. These are just two examples of the many shippers delivering on their e-commerce promises with ODW.
E-commerce is fierce and fast-paced. Your fulfillment provider had better be too. See how we rise to the occasion.