Articles How Can I Satisfy Customers’ Expectations for Fast, Free Deliveries?

Fast, free shipping is the gold standard for ecommerce. About 67 percent of the top 1000 retailers offer free shipping on at least some orders, a special report in the October issue of Internet Retailer reveals.

Retailers are exploring a variety of ways to meet consumer delivery demands for while keeping fulfillment and shipping costs in check. Expanding DC networks to move products closer to the customer and employing robust order management technology can be effective strategies, Perry Belcastro, Saddle Creek’s senior vice president, operations, tells Internet Retailer. However, these approaches can be challenging for many companies to implement on their own, he warns.

In the following excerpt from “Fulfillment 2018: Faster, Better Cheaper,” he explains how a third-party partner can help…

Third-Party Logistics Partners Can Help Retailers Meet Increasing Customer Demands

Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) can be valuable allies for retailers as they try to minimize costs and increase order velocity, Belcastro says. “Well-established 3PLs typically have a number of facilities to aid with distribution center network configuration, allowing retailers to expand their geographic footprint without a major overhead investment,” he says.

They also tend to have robust technology resources, according to Belcastro. “Investing in a top-tier technology system like an OMS can be expensive, and technology is continually evolving,” he adds. “Outsourcing gives retailers a more affordable way to take advantage of the latest advancements.”

And because they serve multiple customers, Belcastro says 3PLs also offer economies of scale and collective buying power for transportation and other services that can help to keep costs down.

Solutions in Action

3PLs can design solutions to help retailers meet escalating customer demands. “At Saddle Creek, we assess retailers’ current distribution networks and identify opportunities for efficiency,” Belcastro explains. The company helps retailers select strategic DC locations from its nationwide network of facilities to enable them to be as responsive and cost-effective as possible when fulfilling orders. “And most of our facilities are shared-space environments, so we have flexible space and labor that can scale to accommodate business growth or fluctuations,” he adds.

E-commerce medical superstore allheart recently turned to Saddle Creek for a full-service, custom fulfillment solution. Saddle Creek implemented an order management system, which integrates with allheart’s proprietary enterprise resource planning system and feeds into the 3PL’s warehouse management system. “This seamless integration provides complete visibility to customer orders and vendor purchase orders, allowing allheart to better manage inventory for rapid order fulfillment and provide customers with real-time order status information,” Belcastro says.

To meet the expectations of today’s consumer, fulfillment operations require a much higher level of sophistication than many companies can handle internally. “Optimal performance requires a significant investment of time, money and resources as well as a thorough understanding of fulfillment and distribution practices,” Belcastro says. “A third-party fulfillment provider can be a valuable partner.”

To learn more about how retailers are meeting demands for fast, free shipping, read the full Internet Retailer article.