E-Commerce’s Role in the Supply Chain: How Adaptable is Your Fulfillment Process?
Posted by World Trade Distribution
Filed Under: Container Freight
E-commerce solutions have become an integral part of the supply chain for online retailers. Choosing an e-commerce provider isn’t just about having an efficient shopping cart system and crunching the numbers on credit card processing fees. What kind of orders your business is shipping, and how your movement of goods is shifting, are things you definitely want to take into consideration. The main goal in choosing the best fit in an e-commerce provider is finding out weather your e-commerce provider will be able to adapt along with you.
Choosing the Right E-commerce Provider for Your Fulfillment Path
The four most common fulfillment paths in modern supply chains would be the following:
- Drop shipping (shipping goods to the customer from the manufacturer)
- Direct to consumer
- Manufacturer to distribution center
- Traditional store replenishment (manufacturer to retail stores)
Shipments directly to retail stores and distribution facilities tend to be reserved for large shipments, while direct to consumer shipments are often more likely to be small shipments. Adaptability is an important trait in an e-commerce provider if your business is making the shift to do more direct to consumer shipments. Responsiveness from your e-commerce provider is also key to efficient supply chain management, particularly when shifting towards direct to consumer shipments. Rapid delivery is expected in the digital landscape, as is the e-commerce provider’s ability to both make frequent carrier arrangements and meet customer expectations.
Fulfillment Path and Order Patterns
Subsequently, this shift in fulfillment paths is changing the way that small businesses place orders. Direct to consumer and drop shipping are sharply increasing across the board, while traditional store replenishment and distribution center shipments are slowly falling in order to keep up with customer demand in real time. For shippers looking to minimize costs and keep up with real-time demand, especially during the holiday season, drop-shipping has become an attractive option for customers purposely looking to online giants like Amazon and eBay. This is especially true of the apparel and consumer electronics industries.
The Role of E-Commerce and Fulfillment Paths in Warehouse Operations
No matter which fulfillment path the shipper uses, warehousing is an inevitable part of supply chain management that can present a costly obstacle, but it doesn’t have to. As shippers’ order preferences continue to evolve as e-commerce drives shifts in fulfillment paths, warehouse practices come into question. Picking is the most labor-intensive component of warehousing, and e-commerce providers need to sync with this process. As more upstream distribution partners are expected to support smaller partners and retail stores, picking by pallet or by piece affects overall efficiency. Most retailers are expecting picking by piece to increase significantly, especially during the busy holiday season.
Choosing the Most Efficient Methods
After comparing e-commerce providers and discerning which one is the right fit for your business, it’s prudent to examine which fulfillment paths will be the most widely-used in the next year or two, and whether your provider is able to adapt alongside your business. Managing your supply chain doesn’t have to be an ordeal. World Trade Distribution, Inc. can scale your supply chain as your business grows, or maintains its current level of orders. Contact us today to discuss you warehousing and shipping needs.