For fast-scaling e-commerce retailers, saving time often ranks as a top reason for outsourcing the picking, packing and delivery of their shoppers’ orders. ‘Time-saving’ was also a key consideration for fulfilmentcrowd when it refreshed its customer app.
Uniquely, the international fulfilment provider wanted to improve its app so that e-commerce retailers actually used it less. Through a system of ongoing monitoring and push notifications, fulfilmentcrowd saves users from constantly having to check data, giving them more time to focus on product development and marketing.
With this in mind, Paul Taylor, Chief Operations Officer at fulfilmentcrowd, looks at the three key things retailers should look for to maximise the time-saving benefits of outsourcing fulfilment.
1) How will you manage stock inventory?
Speed is of the essence for fast-growing e-commerce retailers. Physically handling rapidly rising orders can quickly prove overwhelming, risking bottlenecks and delays. Finding a trusted fulfilment partner can relieve this headache through expertise, technology and warehouse fulfilment centre infrastructure that can efficiently process the handling and delivery of thousands of customer orders per week. However, as many e-commerce retailers hone-in on a provider’s fulfilment centre capacity and capabilities, it can be all too easy to overlook what will be required of them post-outsourcing.
Retailers should look to fully understand how they will remotely manage their stock inventory and interact with their fulfilment partner. Practically, they should ask, how will this work? How quickly will they be able to access information and answers to questions about the status of customer orders? If remote stock inventory management is not delivered in real-time and data is not available across devices, it can quickly impede the benefits of outsourcing fulfilment.
fulfilmentcrowd’s customer app has been specifically developed and recently optimised to overcome such challenges. A combination of push notifications and a streamlined user journey mean retailers can more quickly access the information they want, when they want. This not only saves them time, it also helps retailers enhance levels of customer service and satisfaction because they can more quickly respond to shoppers’ queries about orders. Furthermore, proactive monitoring and alerts mean that any issues will be flagged early by fulfilmentcrowd, enabling these to be resolved before they have the chance of escalating.
2) How easy is it to plug and play?
We’re seeing a reoccurring theme of expanding sales channels (websites and marketplaces) across fast-growing e-commerce retailers. Many SMEs are moving from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand customer orders per week by growing their digital footprint, and this very rarely stands still. In some cases, it’s not unusual to start working with a retailer and then see their sales channels double in a matter of weeks. They can suddenly shoot from needing a small part of a fulfilment centre to needing a whole warehouse.
Expansion and diversity of channels mean it’s crucial that, during outsourcing of fulfilment, retailers determine how easily they can integrate third-party solutions with their network of sales channels. Additionally, retailers must take the same approach to any other apps and customer management systems they use. The fulfilment tech and software should be plug and play, otherwise there’s a risk that set up will be cumbersome and time-consuming.
E-commerce retailers should ask potential fulfilment partners about IoT, API and webhook capabilities, as well as finding out what tech expertise the provider employs and how much they rely on external capabilities. fulfilmentcrowd has an in-house team of developers, who have designed and developed our app. This enables us to provide on-hand technical support to assist seamless integration with customer systems, drive continuous innovation and more effectively remedy any tech matters. It saves time when it matters most to retailers.
Another key benefit of in-house tech and software expertise is that it’s enabled fulfilmentcrowd to develop truly customer-centric solutions. We’ve had real conversations with customers to properly understand the challenges and opportunities they are facing. The team has the flexibility to act on these insights and build and refine tools, such as the app, to ensure they give retailers the functionality they require.
3) What does it take to get started?
There are so many variables in fulfilment and there’s very rarely a one-size-fits-all. This shouldn’t need to justify any reasoning for convoluted service quotes or set-up processes. Utilising in-house tech expertise and combining this with international fulfilment knowledge and experience, fulfilmentcrowd has been able to create an online calculator that provides e-commerce retailers with instant – and accurate – quotes.
This is backed-up by a transparent and straight-forward pricing model, which can be flexed up and down, to make it quick and easy for retailers to determine the value of outsourcing fulfilment. Customers can immediately see what they’ll be paying per week and per order.
By streamlining the initial quote and pricing stages, we can significantly reduce any lag between initial contact with a new customer and the time it takes to get their stock in our fulfilment centres, and then picked, packed and delivered to online shoppers. Saving time during the set-up phase more readily provides e-commerce retailers with the solution they need and means they can get on with growing order volumes, without worrying about how they’ll fulfil them.
Outsourcing fulfilment should be quick for fast-scaling e-commerce retailers and knowing exactly what to look for from a time-saving perspective will enable businesses to achieve this and so much more to better support their growth.