When the only tool at your disposal is a hammer, the temptation exists to strike every stray nail that you see. But what if that nail is embedded in a valuable piece of furniture? Hopefully, that would prompt you to think twice before taking a swing!
Just as different DIY tasks require distinct tools to get the job done, so do different order fulfillment scenarios.
If you’re a CPG company shipping huge volumes to a major retailer, your existing logistics provider is probably getting the job done just fine.
When it comes to shipping premium skincare products to individual customers, however, it’s time for a more refined service as your eCommerce fulfillment provider.
The right tool for the right job, as the old saying goes. In terms of shipping high-value products for premium brands, it’s rare that an existing 3PL is the right option.
Why Not Use Our Existing 3PL for eCommerce Orders?
For anyone with an existing third-party logistics provider (3PL), the temptation will always be to go with what you know. If they’re doing the job for your core business, why would things be any different as you try to expand into eCommerce fulfillment?
Let’s make no bones about it, traditional 3PLs are great at what they do. That means shipping full pallets, layers, and cases in high volume to retailer distribution centers.
However, eCommerce fulfillment requires a different skill set. Even the “boutique” B2B fulfillment, which is all about expertly managing the eaches: individual SKU picks that make up a unique order set.
In this scenario, the bulk work abilities and all-or-nothing approach of a traditional 3PL are equivalent to an unwieldy hammer, unsuited to carefully sculpting the perfect product set and packaging requested by the end customer.
That’s where custom-engineered fulfillment solutions from outside partners enter the equation.
Three Key Elements of Bespoke eCommerce Fulfillment
While the analogy to different tools for distinct jobs is an appropriate one, what are the specific areas in which a customized eCommerce fulfillment solution eclipses what a legacy 3PL can offer?
In our experience, it comes down to three key areas:
1. Speed: Fast, accurate fulfillment is the keystone of eCommerce excellence. Fail to meet the end customer’s
rapid processing expectations with exactly what they ordered and you’ll quickly hear about it (as will everyone else, if they choose to share a subpar ordering experience all over social media). The right eCommerce fulfillment provider will execute your ideas quickly and be on hand to help when you encounter a challenge.
2. Service: Shipping to retail DCs comes with its own set of standards but the large 3PLs engaged in this have the benefit of shipping to only a few hundred end customers. When successful, eCommerce fulfillment means shipping to millions of customers with diverse service needs. Taking time to understand them and align fulfillment systems to their expecations is where a more nimble eCommerce fulfillment provider comes into their own.
3. Technology: The scenarios discussed above call for a finely-tuned blend of talented people and the latest technology For example, at Capacity around 20% of our staff is focused on our technology and engineering, with access to tier-one tech partners for inventory management software, robotics, EDI, and much more. With a team like this on your side, flexible and fast eCommerce fulfillment becomes a reality, rather than a struggle.
In the months ahead, we’ll be looking at each of these key eCommerce fulfillment areas. We’ll explain how you can engage a specialist fulfillment partner to deliver the kind of order experience that traditional 3PLs are unable or unwilling to provide.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.