The easiest way to place orders online today is via the game-changing technology known as ‘One-Click’ Ordering. When you are ready to place an order on Amazon, for example, all you have to do is click ‘place order’ just once. Or if you are using the mobile app, ‘swipe to order.’ The system picks up your billing address, shipping address, and even payment information that is already stored in the database.
Between that click or swipe and the moment the package arrives on the customer’s doorstep, myriad little tasks must occur to successfully fulfill the order and the customer’s expectations. Welcome to the complex world of eCommerce fulfillment which, simply put, means:
“Warehouses are 143% bigger thanks to e-commerce,” is the headline of a Supply Chain Drive article. The growth in size is directly attributed to the volume of merchandise that eCommerce businesses deal with today. In fact, the growth in warehouse size is in response to a challenge that warehouses have been facing for a long time. When merchandise comes to the warehouse, they come in neatly and tightly packed consignments. As and when they are broken for eCommerce fulfillment, the order turns into chaos. Fragments of the consignment gets strewn around the warehouse. When the warehouse functions with less space, it hampers the volume of order fulfillment possible in a given day or week. And hence, warehouse spaces have started growing.
The next challenge? As warehouses started growing, so did the challenge of picking the right product quickly. At least 23% of eCommerce returns was because the wrong item was picked and sent to the customer (Source).
Today, eCommerce fulfillment uses a wide variety of automation tools to ensure that you get the right product in your hands. One among them is an automated picking system. In fact, some of these automated picking systems like GreyOrange take the form of robots that move along a programmed route. They use RFID and barcode scanning to pick the right products and place them on the conveyor belt for right dispatching. Needless to say, they augment the productivity with which the right products are picked for delivery.
The first Amazon book order was made on April 3rd, 1995. Jeff Bezos did not have the book in hand at that time. He bought it from a brick-and-mortar store and parceled it to the customer — John Wainwright. Needless to say, it took a couple of days before the book reached the customer.
Customers today are not so patient. They expect same-day delivery, scheduled delivery and on-demand delivery as a default service. In fact, they are even willing to pay higher shipping rates to get their order delivered when they want it.
When serving these time-sensitive customers, the eCommerce fulfillment function must work with agility. Centralized warehouses with rigid delivery routes optimized for fuel efficiency is no longer feasible. The mainstream practice is to extend the last mile delivery with alternate delivery modes.
Obviously, a lot can go wrong in route from a distribution center to the customer’s location. eCommerce fulfillment must be planned and managed properly – from choosing the right choice of packing material to the delivery mode – to achieve the goal of a satisfied customer. All of these interconnected decisions and activities rely on advanced automation and digital technologies to organize order fulfillment in harmony. It is this harmonious way of working that completes the simple task of delivering the customer’s order.
There are three major tasks that every eCommerce player focuses on to achieve maximum eCommerce fulfillment. Picking the right product, shipping it through the right channel and delivering it within the promised timeframe. eCommerce fulfillment is like firing a bullet at a moving target that diminishes in size with every second! The sheer inclusion of several factors (some controllable and most not so) and resources makes eCommerce fulfillment complex.
To know more about MAI's expertise in contact center and fulfillment services, please drop in an email now!