You can search the web won’t find a definite definition to help define such a complex topic. Retailers are at a constant battle trying to find the most economical way to fulfill online orders for consumers in the most financially effective and efficient way for consumers, retailers and vendors combined.
I have completed extensive research to learn more about where my products really come from. I love to search from amazon who in most cases is only a third-party vendor for retailers to get their products more likely to be seen and sold. On amazon, in some cases, you can choose which retailer you wish to use to buy products from. For instance, I just recently bought a phone case for my phone on Amazon, I seen below when looking at the pictures and price that there were 4 other options with lower prices but different sellers and conditions of the phone cases. Sometimes there is more than one retailer selling that one product. Sometimes even consumers will sell their old products to earn a little more cash. This is common in college students they will sell their textbooks and buy used text books from Amazon to help with their financials.
There are two way to explain cross channel ordering fulfillments. Sometimes retailers will have distributions centers that hold their inventory and drop ships* from there or fulfills the consumer order from its store directly. Another common way that it could be defined as is inventory a retailer has coming from a vendor warehouse to its’ consumers. In simpler terms, “Anywhere the inventory could reside that could be used as fulfillment.” (http://www.spscommerce.com/blog/cross-channel-fulfillment/)
But what many retailers are trying to figure out is which method of holding inventory and shipping to consumers is more cost effective and best for the retailers and consumers. In truth, each company is different in many ways from the products they sell, what they have available and where they are willing to ship too including the cost of their products. For some using a vendor to ship products to consumers is the best options. For others using the closes retailer with the product in stock in their inventory will be the best option. It all varies. Some retailers will test out both methods and see which works best for their company. Many recommend using a vendor but some will recommend otherwise.
Trying both methods during a trial period is what we recommend for retailers. This will help get the best idea for your company in terms on what will be more cost effective for your consumers and company. There is no right or wrong method. It’s a matter of finding what yours for you and the consumers.
*Drop Ships – Moving consumer goods from a manufacture directly to a retailer without going through a distribution center as most retailers choose to do.
Many stores are opting for cross channel order fulfilment. Some of the largest retail chains in the country have endorsed the concept and as many as half of the chief executive officers of retail giants are reportedly supervising the executions personally. There are obvious benefits of cross channel order fulfilment which is why it is becoming so commonplace. Having an app or a mobile site to facilitate cross channel order fulfilment is not only beneficial for customers but also for retailers. Let us explore some of the advantages.
- It offers a convenient shopping experience. People are continuously looking for more convenient ways. Some shopping sprees are fun but some are chores. Both can be made fun, simple and quick with cross channel order fulfillment. Several market research agencies have conducted studies to understand the impact of the concept. Customers have reported being more satisfied with options. They like to purchase stuff online and then pick up the stuff from the store. Customers also report that they like to make online purchases even from nearby stores and get the stuff delivered at their doorstep. Several such cross channel order fulfillment concepts which eventually contribute to an omnichannel fulfillment strategy are leading to greater customer satiation, which is anyway the ultimate objective of any retailer.
- Retailers get benefited in myriad ways as well. Cross channel order fulfillment helps with inventory management. It is common for retailers to have multiple locations and many have warehouses that are not necessarily adjacent or a sort of back office for the store. It is near impossible to showcase the entire inventory with limited shelf space and floor area. The virtual interfaces have no such challenge. Shoppers can access the entire inventory and can place their orders. Stores that don’t have a particular stuff or several at one of their stores or have it in their warehouse can easily attend to the sale and then have the stuff by the time the customer has to pick it up.
- Cross channel order fulfillment helps in management of footfall or store traffic. From aisle management to controlling the queues
at the billing counters, there are many amazing rewards of cross channel order fulfillment. It also helps in offering an integrated solution to customers. For shoppers and for retailers, the virtual and real interfaces combine to offer a seamless process.
Cross channel order fulfillment provides impetus to sales as well.
Amidst phenomenal growth of ecommerce and consistently evolving retail logistics, the significance of warehouse management service cannot be overstated. The very definition of warehouse management service has changed in recent years. While storage and inventory management still remain at the crux of the service along with an efficient warehouse management system, there are other associated services which have now become imperative.
There is no dearth of companies offering warehouse management service but you need to find the right one. Here is a brief guide that can help you in your quest.
- The first attribute many business owners focus on is the infrastructure. While infrastructure is indeed an important factor, the most significant attribute is the expertise. The company offering warehouse management service must have experience in dealing with the specific type of goods that you have. You cannot expect a company specializing in handling textiles to be as adept at handling valuables such as luxury watches. Likewise, food items need a different approach compared to consumer electronics. Even food needs to be classified into perishable and nonperishable. Choose a warehouse management service that is particularly specialized in dealing with the kind of goods you have.
- Technology is another important factor. Technology is not confined to a warehouse management system or software that would automate inventory management, database management and other essential operations. Technology pertaining to security, logistics, returns management, order fulfillment and other aspects of the niche must also be ensured. In a nutshell, you need a state of the art warehouse management service that automates everything that can be automated, thus doing away with the possibilities of human error.
- Cost is obviously one of the most important elements that would influence your choice of warehouse management service. Don’t compromise on technology or expertise to save money. That wouldn’t work out well for your goods or for your customers.
- Focus on convenience when you choose a warehouse management service. Consult with the reps, check out their locations, factor in where they are based and how they cater to the service because the easier it is for you to coordinate with the company or the assigned personnel of the company, the more efficient the whole arrangement would be.
- You may need additional services at times, which could be returns management, packaging, storage for specific periods of time which may vary for different products, shipping or order fulfillment service as a whole. Check out if a company offering warehouse management service can cater to all other needs of yours.
Whether you have an ecommerce business or intend to ship your products far and wide across the country from your retail location, you will need order fulfilment service. The phenomenal saving is the primary reason why people don’t opt for conventional shipping options. Also, order fulfilment service would make your life simpler and easier so you can focus on the core aspects of your business.
Finding the best order fulfilment service is not challenging but you have to make a few smart calls. You need to find the right company, one that understands your needs and can deliver. Here are a few tips that can help you to find the best order fulfilment service.
- Determine the scope of the service you need. It is possible that you would need a complete solution. That may involve packaging, shipping, doorstep delivery, returns and warehousing. You may not need all of those services and may be fine with just shipping. Your need will determine the type of companies you must consider. It is futile to consider a company that doesn’t offer all the services when that is what you need. However, hiring a company that does offer all the services even when you don’t need them is better. You wouldn’t pay unnecessarily more and you would have the scope of expanding the order fulfilment service if and when you need to do so. That wouldn’t be possible with a company that doesn’t offer all the services.
- You must know for sure if the company offering order fulfilment service specializes in the type of product you have to deliver. Your product can be small, medium or large in size and weight. Your product may have some specific packaging requirements. The handling, depending on fragility and value, is a quintessential factor. You should not hire a company that doesn’t specialize in the type of product you are dealing in. This checkpoint should be enough to discard many companies and to consider a few. Using the reductionist approach, you can easily zero in on the few companies that are relevant for your needs.
- Finally, you should only consider credible companies that have a proven track record and a substantial presence. A very small company offering order fulfilment service, which doesn’t have much of a clientele, will not be an ideal choice. It may not have the infrastructure, trained manpower and the outreach that you need.