SC247    Topics     Technology    Trends    Generix Group

Expanding Your Retail Horizons and How to Find the Right Fulfillment Services

Fulfillment services have largely been the domain of 3PLs, and needless to say, not all 3PLs are created equal when it comes to eCommerce expertise and omnichannel efficiency, and given the central role a fulfillment partner plays in the customers journey and overall satisfaction, retailers cannot afford to choose a 3PL that lacks the means to meet their clients expectations.


The Rise of eCommerce

The Amazon Effect, the Covid pandemic, the relentless march of time… It doesn’t really matter how you explain it: the rise of eCommerce is an undeniable fact that retailers of all sizes must deal with if they hope to maintain their competitive edge and grow their market share.

Customer expectations have evolved, putting pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to develop new sales channels. Convenience, same-day shipping, and easy return processes are now the name of the game in the retailing industry. To meet those expectations, supply chains and fulfillment services everywhere have had to adapt. Some, like Amazon and Ocado, rely on fully automated infrastructure. Others have turned to more accessible technology solutions.

Obviously, not every retailer out there has the financial means of an Amazon or Ocado. The truth is that most cannot afford the infrastructure and technology solutions required for efficient B2B and/or D2C operations. In the era of multichannel operations, many retailers who want to develop their business will have to rely on 3PL or fulfillment services.

Seeing that, a number of companies have made it their business to offer such services. With so many options on the market, retailers must know what to look for in a fulfillment partner at the risk of seeing their margins melt away or, worse, their customer base shrink for lack of good service.

Below, we help retailers achieve their goal of omnichannel efficacy by pointing out what they should look for in their future 3PL or fulfillment services.

What to Look for in a 3PL or Fulfillment Services Provider

Large marketplace providers like Amazon have embraced eCommerce by offering their own warehousing and fulfillment services. Amazon got in the game early on to offer warehousing and fulfillment services to its vendors who sell on its marketplace under its Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program. The company offers similar services - called Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) - to manufacturers, brands, and sellers that don’t leverage Amazon’s marketplace.

That being the case, fulfillment services have largely been the domain of 3PLs. Needless to say, not all 3PLs were created equal when it comes to eCommerce expertise and omnichannel efficacy. Given the central role a fulfillment partner plays in the customer’s journey and overall satisfaction, retailers cannot afford to choose a 3PL that lacks the means to meet their clients’ expectations.

Outsource Your Multichannel Fulfillment Processes

Here are key elements to look for when looking to outsource your multichannel fulfillment processes to a 3PL or fulfillment service provider. 

Managing End-to-End Fulfillment | A full-service warehousing solution and fulfillment specialist must be able to: receive and store inventory in their facilities; process orders; efficiently perform picking and packing; and ship orders on time.

Their processes must support the critical stages of the customer journey, from the initiation of the order by the customer to the delivery of the package or shipment - whether that’s at the customer’s doorstep, BOPIS, or another commercial destination.

Reverse Logistics | First-rate reverse logistics capabilities are essential to the success of eCommerce retailing activities. Easy return processes play a large part in securing a customer’s trust and loyalty, which goes a long way toward building a larger clientele.

Efficient reverse logistics is equally critical to good inventory management and minimizing shrinkage, both of which help retailers protect their margins.

Real-Time Order Management |To achieve “same-day shipping” and deliver their goods on time, retailers need their ERP system and/or OMS to communicate with their 3PL’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) in real time.

Any fulfillment partner worthy of consideration will have a robust WMS that can reference orders by customer name, order number, destination, and/or tracking number - traceability capabilities are a must for retailers in the Food & Beverage industry.

Automation | A robust software architecture that enables the automation of processes in the distribution center (DC) is a non-negotiable requirement. Multichannel distribution centers do not all require a fully automated physical infrastructure like Amazon to run an efficient operation, but a moderate level of process automation is necessary.

Obviously, if the 3PL boasts material handling equipment that includes robots and automated conveyors, all the better! Retailers should keep in mind, however, that such levels of maturity come at a price. 

Scalability | Retailers should ask about the service provider’s average customer onboarding time when seeking proposals. Given the labor shortages that have plagued the warehousing and transportation industry, it’s a good idea to look for 3PLs that have a scalable labor force to help manage seasonal peaks and valleys in shipping volumes.

It’s never a bad idea to inquire about customer histories for critical metrics, such as order fill rates, inventory accuracy, and on-time shipping during peak seasons.

Customization and Value-Added Services | Retailers with specific packaging and shipping requirements should verify that the needed services are offered. Fulfillment specialists can typically tailor individual orders to the customer’s requirements and provide custom-branded packaging unique to a retailer’s brand.

However, some services are not covered by all fulfillment partners, such as customized notes or special packaging for VIP customers and high-value orders. Retailers who need value-added services (e.g.: subscription box orders, light assembly and kitting, and apparel services) will do well to define their requirements and include those in their RFP.

The Common Denominator to All Good Fulfillment Partners: A Robust Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

The warehousing capabilities required of a 3PL or fulfillment service are simply unattainable without a Warehouse Management System (WMS). A WMS is necessary for the implementation of warehouse management best practices in the distribution center. It is all the more so in an environment that deals with a high number of SKUs from various sellers and operates across more than one channel.

Without it, a distribution center cannot operate efficiently that manage fulfillment from multiple sales channels; high volumes of single-item orders at the same time as small orders; complex and varied picking processes; and numerous shipping options. In the case of retailers who operate in the Food and Beverage industry, the traceability capabilities of better WMS solutions have become indispensable - and expected by customers.

As B2B and D2C retail companies explore the means to open new sales channels, whether that’s in-house or through the services of a fulfillment partner, they need to pay particular attention to the WMS solution that will empower them to achieve omnichannel efficacy.

To learn more about Warehouse Management Systems and the capabilities that fuel omnichannel efficacy, visit the Generix Group SOLOCHAIN WMS page or download the SOLOCHAIN WMS Product Sheet (when ready link to paper on SC24/7).

Download our Guide to the Warehouse of the Future.

About Generix Group North America

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

Did you enjoy this post about selecting the right fulfillment partner?
Here are three more that might interest you as well:

Unlock the Benefits of Task Interleaving with the SOLOCHAIN WMS/MES
7 Advantages of a Warehouse Management System
Why Manufacturers Leverage SOLOCHAIN WMS/MES to Minimize Inventory Shrinkage


Article Topics


Generix Group News & Resources

Expanding Your Retail Horizons and How to Find the Right Fulfillment Services
Make the Best of Gartner Warehouse Management Systems Magic Quadrant Report
SOLOCHAIN WMS plus a Guide to Warehouse Management Systems
Optimizing Your Warehouse with Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Supply Chain Visibility
Practices and Benefits of Collaborative Supply Management

Latest in Technology

Agile and configurable WMS delivers for 3PL Logistics
SnapControl easily integrates any robotic device or system
Expanding Your Retail Horizons and How to Find the Right Fulfillment Services
Online Sellers Find Excellent Opportunities to Win More Customers this Easter
2023 Tech Trends in Warehouse Management Execs Should Know About
3PL Provider Improves Ecommerce Fulfillment from Multiple WMS Systems with New Data Architecture
Helping Brands Grow their Online Sales with e-Logistics & Readymade Fulfillment
More Technology

Generix Group Talks Next Generation of WMS Innovation

Welcome to the new era of transformative consumption habits! As the intelligent supply chain continues to rise, businesses must integrate new processes, technologies, growth strategies, and advanced business models to prevent disruptions and implement effective and sustainable solutions.


Generix Group is an expert in the Collaborative Supply Chain with presence in 60 countries thanks to its subsidiaries and network of partners. More than 6,000 companies around the world use its SaaS solutions. The group’s 800 employees provide daily assistance to clients such as Carrefour, Danone, FM Logistic, Fnac-Darty, Essilor, Ferrero, and Geodis in the digital transformation of their Supply Chains. Its collaborative platform, Generix Supply Chain Hub and Supplier Portal, helps companies keep their promises to their customers. It connects companies to all their partners so that together they can operate physical flows, digitize information flows, and collaboratively manage processes in real-time. Generix Supply Chain Hub is intended for all companies in the supply chain: including manufacturers, third-party & fourth-party logistics providers, and distributors.



View Generix Group company profile

 

Featured Downloads

Warehouse Contingency Planning Template
Warehouse Contingency Planning Template
We’ve taken the guesswork out of warehouse contingency planning with this downloadable editable template; from performing a risk assessment to testing...
AlixPartners 2023 Disruption Index A Bias for Action Sets Growth Leaders Apart
AlixPartners 2023 Disruption Index A Bias for Action Sets Growth Leaders Apart
In their 4th annual AlixPartners Disruption Index, business leaders cite this as the central dilemma, with 85% of CEOs telling us that it...

2023 Digital Transformation Report
2023 Digital Transformation Report
In this 2023 Digital Transformation Report, we share insights gained from our annual research on technology trends and digital transformation and explore the...
The State of Digital Transformation
The State of Digital Transformation
This White Paper Report combines our research findings with insights into what transformation truly entails – plus, guidance from our data and digital...
Multi-Party Orchestration Platform
Multi-Party Orchestration Platform
In this brochure, you'll find a guide to MPO's unified cloud platform for multi-party orchestration, including its rich and flexible solutions: Control...