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August 24, 2023

International Shipping: Reach Every Corner of the World

If you want your ecommerce business to grow, considering international expansion is a logical next step. But this decision brings the challenge of figuring out how to ship products worldwide. To tackle international shipping for your ecommerce platform, you'll need a plan that suits both you and your business. You don't have to become a shipping expert, but you should grasp the available choices and find an approach that can meet your shipping needs in the future.


WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING? International shipping involves moving goods across foreign borders. It plays a crucial role in connecting global economies and enabling sales to customers located outside your business's home country. There are several notable distinctions between international shipping and domestic shipping, primarily relating to expenses and paperwork. Compared to domestic shipping, international shipping tends to be pricier due to the longer distance traveled by the package, often involving various transportation methods such as air, land, and sea. Additionally, international shipping frequently entails the payment of import taxes and duties in the receiving country. In terms of documentation, international shipments necessitate customs forms—unlike domestic shipments. Furthermore, ecommerce international shipping usually takes more time compared to domestic deliveries.


When it comes to international shipping costs, there are four essential elements that play a crucial role in determining how efficiently you can manage global deliveries. These factors have a direct impact on both your business's operational effectiveness and customer satisfaction across the world.
1. Packaging
Before embarking on any international shipment, obtaining the right packaging supplies is paramount. Depending on the variety of shipments you handle, you might require multiple box sizes to accommodate varying product dimensions. Consider including cushioning materials like bubble wrap or stuffing to safeguard your items during transit. These packaging materials can be procured both online and at local post offices or office supply stores. Opting for a balance between sturdy and uncomplicated packaging is ideal. Customers prefer receiving products in a single, well-packaged box rather than multiple boxes of different sizes for a single item. Striking this equilibrium between durable packaging and cost-effectiveness might necessitate some research. Seek out deals and discounts where possible. For instance, if you use USPS as a business, you can order boxes for free. Incorporating packaging costs into your overall product pricing is usually straightforward, with packaging expenses ranging from around $1 to $5 per unit, depending on size and quality.
2. Cost of Shipping
Incorporating shipping costs into your pricing strategy is fundamental to setting accurate prices for your products. Achieving a balance between not incurring losses on shipping expenses and not overcharging customers is essential. Here's how to approach it effectively: Consider and Compare: The nature of your products and their sizes or weights determines how you should price shipments. Are your products consistently sized, or do they vary?  To calculate the costs of international shipping:
  1. Use a rate calculator for your selected carriers and simulate pricing for an average domestic order shipped internationally.
  2. Repeat the process for your smallest domestic sale.
  3. Similarly, calculate costs for your largest domestic sale.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMPONENTS OF INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING COSTS With these three figures, you can establish a foundation for pricing ecommerce international shipping. This exercise will also help you identify shipments that might incur higher costs than others. Utilize platforms like Shopify's shipping calculator to assess international shipping costs. Structure Your Pricing: There are three main pricing structures for international shipping: free shipping, carrier rate shipping, and flat rate shipping.
  • Free Shipping: If your profit margins allow, consider offering free international shipping. Customers appreciate this option, and it can boost sales. Calculate order thresholds for free shipping to ensure it's financially viable.
  • Carrier Rate Shipping: Integrated with platforms like Shopify, carrier calculated shipping offers real-time pricing and various shipping options. This customer-friendly option ensures that customers pay the same rate you incur for shipping through Shopify Shipping.
  • Flat Rate Shipping: If your international shipping costs remain consistent in terms of package size/weight and cost, consider employing flat or manual rate shipping.
3. Handling Charges
In addition to packaging and material costs, it's wise to include handling charges. International shipments navigate additional facilities compared to domestic orders, necessitating careful packaging. To calculate handling charges: Calculate Your Handling Costs: Determine your minimum hourly wage for preparing and packing shipments. Estimate the average time it takes to prepare an order for shipment. Multiply the hourly wage by the time required to prepare an order. For example, if it takes 10 minutes and your wage is $11 per hour, the handling charge would be $1.83. Remember that handling charges are discretionary, but they reflect the additional care required for international shipments. Customers expect to pay slightly more for quality shipping, and effective handling is a vital aspect of quality.
4. Duties and Taxes
Accounting for duties and taxes is crucial for transparency and customer satisfaction. The global cross-border ecommerce market is projected to reach $627 billion by 2022, indicating a significant market segment affected by duties and taxes. Research by the International Chamber of Commerce underscores the importance of clearly communicating these charges to customers, as unexpected fees lead to dissatisfaction and a high likelihood of returns. Implementing Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) is recommended by DHL Express for seamless customer experiences. Data from a survey by Pitney Bowes indicates that 81% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they know the total cost upfront, reinforcing the need to transparently include these charges in your pricing.


Adaptability is key in the dynamic shipping industry. Continuously reassess and refine your strategy in response to evolving offers and industry shifts, ensuring your international shipping operations remain optimized.  WHEN SELECTING SHIPPING CARRIERS, CONSIDER KEY FACTORS:
  • Costs: Amplify cost savings by employing multiple shipping carriers. While postal carriers often offer affordability, express carriers excel in speed and versatility. Regional courier services can be beneficial for addressing last-mile delivery complexities.
  • Delivery Options: Cater to diverse customer preferences by offering a variety of delivery timelines. Providing a range of choices enables customers to balance speed and cost according to their priorities.
  • Tracking and Insurance: Elevate customer satisfaction with comprehensive shipment tracking. Amilo provides integrated tracking, and you can enhance transparency by adding ePacket tracking. For added security, consider insuring parcels against potential loss or damage.
August 24, 2023
August 24, 2023

13 Smart Strategies to Reduce International Shipping Costs

Many businesses often operate under the assumption that their methods of international shipping and the associated costs are fixed and unchangeable. However, just because a certain approach has been traditionally followed doesn't mean it shouldn't be challenged. In fact, there are numerous opportunities to make improvements, even in areas as fundamental as arranging international shipments.  Taking a more strategic approach can lead to substantial savings, potentially up to 50% of the regular international shipping expenses. Presented below are 13 specific suggestions aimed at curtailing these international shipping costs, complete with an estimated calculation of the potential savings.

1. Establish Consistent Volume Agreements for International Routes

13 Smart Strategies to Reduce International Shipping Costs Creating ongoing partnerships with international carriers for specific shipping routes is a strategic move. By committing to regular shipments along a particular international lane, carriers can optimize their operations, which includes exploring opportunities for efficient backhaul utilization and expanding their global network. This heightened level of operational efficiency can lead to significant cost savings for your international shipping endeavors. Additionally, in the current landscape of limited shipping capacity, carriers often prioritize loyal customers who consistently provide reliable freight volumes, ensuring your shipments receive preferential treatment. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 2-12% compared to standard international shipping rates.

2. Optimize Off-Peak Shipping Days for International Shipments

Adjusting your international shipping schedule can result in measurable cost reductions. For instance, consider shipping a day earlier or later than usual. Fridays, known for their reduced shipping activity in the consumer goods realm, are characterized by retailers stocking their shelves by Thursday for weekend sales. Similarly, Mondays tend to have lower shipping demand, with carriers often seeking shipments to fill their available capacity. The feasibility of this approach depends on the type of cargo – non-perishable goods might offer more flexibility. Exploring off-peak international shipping options is especially advantageous for non-consumer product shippers. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 10% compared to peak international shipping days.

3. Leverage Nearby Consolidation Programs for Smaller International Shipments

Engaging in international retail consolidation is a mutually beneficial strategy. By consolidating your smaller international shipments with those of neighboring businesses destined for the same global retailers and distribution channels, efficiency is maximized. This method allows you to share the cost of a more economical international shipping solution, which could involve container or air freight consolidation. Meanwhile, retailers and distributors receive timely deliveries and can optimize their warehouse and storage space, resulting in reduced operational costs. To identify potential partners, explore local business associations, international trade organizations, or collaborate with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) offering consolidation programs for companies shipping to the same global customers. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: Up to 25% compared to the cost of individual, unconsolidated international shipments.

4. Cultivate Long-Term Relationships Instead of Constant Rate Shopping

While annual RFP processes might seem necessary to demonstrate your dedication to reducing international shipping costs, the practice of severing ties and engaging new international carriers each year isn't the most effective approach. Consider it analogous to "speed dating" in the realm of international shipping. Establishing enduring, strategic partnerships with international carriers can yield considerable transportation management benefits that directly impact your financial bottom line. Longer contractual periods provide carriers the chance to attract additional customers within the same global region, resulting in a more streamlined network with fewer inefficient empty miles. A carrier that optimizes its global assets becomes more profitable, enabling them to provide you with more favorable international shipping rates. Moreover, a multi-year agreement, such as a three-year contract, secures a consistent rate throughout the agreement, mitigating annual fluctuations – and the possibility of increases. Committing to a long-term partnership with an international carrier also translates to enhanced service quality, a factor of significant value. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 3-5% annually; these estimated savings could potentially double during periods of tight international shipping capacity.

5. Extend Delivery Lead Times for Enhanced International Planning

Injecting meticulous planning into the international supply chain and furnishing international carriers with advanced notice about upcoming shipments empowers them to optimize resources, encompassing ships, planes, drivers, and warehousing facilities. Providing advanced shipping notifications allows international carriers to orchestrate their global assets efficiently. Notably, a major cost for international carriers arises from vessels and planes idling at ports or airports, awaiting loading. Elevating the planning timeline mitigates these costs and enables carriers to pass on some savings to you. The potential for improved planning extends across all facets of the international supply chain – from cargo pickups and staging to loading on ships or aircraft. Longer lead times equip international carriers to effect behind-the-scenes enhancements, resulting in heightened efficiency and offering you more favorable international shipping rates. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 5-20%.

6. Streamline Dunnage for International Cost Efficiency

Numerous products necessitate protective measures like airbags, strapping, and blocking to safeguard them during lengthy international journeys, whether across oceans or through international airfreight routes. However, excessive precautions can inflate international shipping costs unnecessarily. International carriers possess invaluable insights that can help you optimize your dunnage and reduce international shipping expenses without compromising on the safety of your goods. Do not hesitate to seek their guidance. Many international carriers implement dimensional weight pricing models that incentivize shippers to use appropriately sized packaging, reducing box weight and minimizing the need for excess dunnage. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 1-3% per international shipment load.

7. Foster a Reputation for Efficient Loading in International Shipments

When international carriers determine pricing, they often account for a 2-hour loading window. However, if a carrier knows that a particular shipper consistently loads cargo within an hour, it can influence the pricing and cultivate a positive carrier-shipper relationship. Shippers with a track record of swift loading times may even negotiate these favorable load times as part of their rate structure. This proactive approach eliminates the need to chase after additional charges, which can be a substantial time and resource drain. An operationally efficient shipper not only saves money but also becomes a preferred choice for carriers, resulting in a dual advantage. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: Dependent on your current reputation. You can estimate that carriers often factor around $40 per hour into their rates for each hour it typically takes to load cargo.

8. Extend Pick-Up Windows for International Shipments

Offering international carriers later pick-up times, such as between 6-12 p.m., can transform your load into a backhaul opportunity. By providing pick-up times beyond the standard hours when other shippers have finished their shipping activities, you enable carriers to utilize their resources more effectively. For instance, a carrier might decline a load scheduled for a mid-afternoon pick-up due to conflicting routes. However, a later pick-up allows them to make the delivery and optimize their return trip with your freight. This approach contributes to maximizing asset utilization, particularly for longer international hauls. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 15-20% reduction from standard international shipping rates.

9. Optimize Pallet Spaces in International LTL Shipping

Efficiently utilizing the cubic space of your products, arranging them to occupy fewer pallet spots, and reconfiguring the packaging can all facilitate fitting more cargo onto a pallet and inside a trailer. For example, employing smaller boxes for small components instead of using large boxes can optimize pallet loading and save pallet spaces. Engage your international carrier for suggestions on creating more efficient pallet configurations, with recommendations tailored to the specific nature of the products being shipped. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: Up to $150 per saved pallet space.

10. Promote Larger, Less Frequent International Shipments

Encourage your international customers to place larger orders, emphasizing the cost-effectiveness of shipping in bulk. Sending six pallets in a single shipment is notably more economical than dispatching two pallets every two days. However, retailers often prefer smaller, more frequent shipments. To address this, incentivize larger orders by sharing freight savings with the retailer or exploring options like Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI). VMI allows retailers to stock items without being charged until the products are on the shelves, incentivizing them to order more inventory upfront. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: Up to 50% compared to the cost of the smallest international LTL shipments, which could trigger minimum charge requirements.

11. Seek Local Carriers in Proximity to Your International Destinations

Opt for international carriers situated near your intended delivery points. This increases the likelihood of your shipment being utilized as a backhaul, resulting in a more favorable rate. Filling empty return miles is a key strategy for carriers to optimize their earnings, and it's also an effective method for reducing your international freight costs. Surprisingly, many shippers fail to explore carrier terminals conveniently located near their frequent international delivery destinations. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 20% compared to standard non-backhaul rates for that particular route.

12. Involve Logistics in Early Decisions Regarding Product Design, Packaging, and Carton Selection for International Shipments

All these factors impact the utilization of trailer space to its maximum capacity. What some companies overlook is that packaging represents a small fraction of the supply chain cost, accounting for less than 10% of every supply chain dollar. In contrast, warehousing constitutes around 25% of the cost, while transportation accounts for approximately 60%. Therefore, it's prudent to approach packaging design and carton specifications with the goal of enhancing freight efficiency. The decision-makers in marketing roles may not inherently possess this mindset. Often, the impact of packaging optimization on international freight rates goes unnoticed by many companies. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 10% when considering the combined cost of packaging, warehousing, and international transportation.

13. Consider Outsourcing Your International Transportation Operations

Especially for smaller companies, international freight management might not align with core competencies. The expenses and time commitments associated with hiring, training, and maintaining a transportation team, as well as keeping up with evolving systems requirements, can be substantial. This is further compounded by the need to manage and retain a driver workforce. Enlisting the services of a third-party provider for international freight management shifts the financial responsibility of staffing and capital expenditures. Additionally, it opens the door to innovative solutions that proactive carriers often suggest. Moreover, carriers are inherently more efficient due to their ability to procure resources like fuel in bulk. If you possess your own fleet of trucks, it's worth exploring the possibility of outsourcing international freight to external experts. POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 3 to 5%. Shippers with their own truck fleets frequently incur at least a 25% premium compared to the standard cost of outsourcing international delivery needs to reputable and dependable carriers.
August 24, 2023
August 23, 2023

Top 6 Methods to Improve Warehouse Picking Efficiency

The process of picking items for order fulfillment is both demanding and time-intensive. Luckily, there exists a range of methods at your disposal to enhance the selection process by strategically utilizing manpower and various forms of material handling technology. It's of paramount importance to ensure that you've adopted the most suitable picking approach for your company prior to making investments in technology or automation to support your picking processes and drive cost savings. Regrettably, there isn't a universally ideal picking technique. When deliberating on a warehouse picking strategy, it's essential to take into account factors such as your order patterns, material flow, the physical layout of the facility, the quantity of items in each order, the workforce availability, and the timing and manner in which orders are released by your management system. What might perform effectively in one scenario could prove less effective in another.


HOW WAREHOUSE PICKING OPERATES Warehouse picking involves retrieving goods from a storage facility or distribution center to fulfill customer orders. It is a pivotal aspect of the order fulfillment process, demanding a combination of advanced machinery and labor-centric processes to ensure a high level of accuracy for every shipped order. Enhancing supply chain efficiency often revolves around refining warehouse picking procedures. The most suitable picking strategy can vary depending on factors such as warehouse size, product diversity, and workforce size. Understanding warehouse slotting is key to arranging your storage facility optimally for your chosen picking method. Here are four prevalent warehouse picking strategies:
1. Discrete Order Picking:
Discrete order picking involves selecting items one by one to fulfill individual customer orders. While this approach is simple, its efficiency can be limited in larger warehouses with extensive product offerings. According to a study by the Supply Chain Quarterly, the average order picking accuracy for a discrete picking process is around 99.5%, indicating a high level of precision. However, the travel time required for pickers to access individual items can contribute to longer fulfillment times, impacting overall efficiency.
2. Zone Order Picking:
Zone picking aims to address the efficiency challenges of discrete picking by dividing the warehouse into zones and assigning pickers to specific areas. The data from a case study published in the International Journal of Production Economics revealed that implementing zone picking resulted in a 25% reduction in travel time and a 10% increase in order picking efficiency compared to a discrete picking method. This strategy is particularly effective in larger warehouses with diverse inventories and a high volume of orders.
3. Batch Order Picking:
Batch picking involves assigning multiple orders to pickers, who then gather all the items for those orders in a single trip to the picking area. A study conducted by the Journal of Manufacturing Systems found that batch picking can lead to a 30-50% reduction in travel distance compared to discrete picking. This reduction in travel distance directly translates to increased picker productivity and order fulfillment speed. Batch picking is particularly advantageous when dealing with high-density warehouses or when orders consist of similar items.
4. Wave Order Picking:
Wave picking combines aspects of both zone and batch picking. It involves separating the picking and sorting tasks into distinct phases. A case study by the Institute of Industrial Engineers found that wave picking reduced the number of picking trips by 40% and decreased the number of lines picked by 25%. This approach optimizes sorting efficiency and allows for resource allocation to specific tasks. Wave picking is suitable for warehouses with varying order volumes and multiple customer requirements. The choice of warehouse picking strategy should be based on factors such as warehouse layout, product diversity, order profiles, and available labor resources. While data and metrics indicate the efficiency improvements each strategy can offer, it's important to conduct a thorough analysis of your specific warehouse operations to determine which strategy aligns best with your goals. Implementing the right strategy can lead to significant gains in order fulfillment efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction.implementation of an optimal order picking system within your warehouse is pivotal. These advantages of a well-structured order picking system are:


1. Lowering Warehouse Costs:
Picking, especially in expansive warehouses, can be resource-intensive. The Aberdeen Group reports that warehouses spend approximately 55% of their total labor costs on picking. Implementing a warehouse order picking system can mitigate this. A study by WMS Solutions found that a well-executed order picking system could lead to a 20% reduction in labor costs. By introducing technology that assigns similar orders to a single picker, efficiency is optimized. This translates to reduced labor hours and, ultimately, lower costs. The Material Handling Institute's research showcases that warehouses using order picking technology report a 45% decrease in labor hours.
2. Elevating Customer Satisfaction:
Customer satisfaction hinges on order accuracy and timely delivery. A survey by Voxware revealed that 70% of respondents consider accurate order fulfillment as a primary driver of satisfaction. On the other hand, picking errors can result in return rates of up to 30%, as reported by the National Retail Federation. Prolonged picking times also impact customer contentment. The Logistics Bureau states that delayed order fulfillment due to inefficient picking can lead to negative customer perceptions and hampered loyalty. Improved accuracy, as supported by the Supply Chain Consortium, correlates with a 35% reduction in customer complaints.
3. Alleviating Warehouse Staff Burden:
A well-designed order picking system alleviates staff workload. DHL Supply Chain's study found that implementing technology to guide pickers reduces errors by 60%. This optimized allocation of routes and item verification contributes to heightened efficiency. The synergy of streamlined warehousing, efficient picking strategies, and adept technology has far-reaching implications. A study published in the International Journal of Logistics Management reveals that efficient warehouse organization reduces order picking distances by up to 50%, translating to notable labor savings. The multifaceted benefits of an adept order picking system are supported by empirical data. It reduces costs, enhances customer satisfaction, and eases the burden on warehouse staff. The interplay between meticulous warehouse organization, strategic picking methodologies, and technology optimization serves as a catalyst for elevated warehousing efficiency.


TOP 6 METHODS TO IMPROVE WAREHOUSE PICKING EFFICIENCY Efficient warehouse picking plays a pivotal role in ensuring accurate order fulfillment and streamlined operations. Here are five proven methods to optimize warehouse picking efficiency:
1. Implement Zone Picking:
Zone picking involves dividing the warehouse into distinct zones, each assigned to specific pickers. This approach minimizes picker travel time and reduces congestion. According to the Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC), zone picking can lead to a 20-50% reduction in travel time compared to traditional methods. By reducing unnecessary movement, zone picking enhances efficiency and order throughput.
2. Utilize Technology:
Incorporating technology like barcode scanners, RFID systems, and pick-to-light systems can significantly boost picking efficiency. A study by Zebra Technologies found that companies that adopted mobile technology for picking experienced a 50% improvement in order accuracy. These technologies provide real-time data, reduce manual errors, and enable faster order processing.
3. Batch and Wave Picking:
Batch picking involves picking multiple orders simultaneously, while wave picking focuses on separating the picking and sorting processes. These methods capitalize on the concept of economies of motion. A study by the Journal of Manufacturing Systems reported a 30-50% reduction in travel distance with batch picking. Combining similar orders and sorting them later optimizes picker movement and increases efficiency.
4. Optimize Layout and Slotting:
Strategic warehouse layout and slotting can significantly impact picking efficiency. The Material Handling Institute states that well-organized warehouses experience a 20-30% increase in productivity. Grouping frequently picked items closer to the packing area and utilizing high-demand storage locations improves picker accessibility, reducing travel time.
5. Training and Staff Empowerment:
Investing in proper training for warehouse staff is crucial. A study by the International Journal of Production Economics found that training reduced picking errors by up to 60%. Empowered staff are better equipped to navigate the warehouse efficiently, handle unexpected situations, and contribute to a culture of continuous improvement.
6. Outsource Warehouse Picking and Order Fulfillment
When it comes to improving the picking process in the warehouse, outsourcing fulfillment is the most hands-off option. You can free up warehouse space without quickly outgrowing your current setup by outsourcing only the parts of the fulfillment process that you do not want to handle in-house (such as direct-to-consumer fulfillment) while keeping the parts that you do handle in-house (such as B2B eCommerce orders). By implementing zone picking, leveraging technology, utilizing batch and wave picking, optimizing layout, and investing in staff training, warehouses can achieve higher accuracy rates, faster order processing, and improved overall operational efficiency.


BENEFITS OF ENGAGING A 3PL FOR WAREHOUSE PICKING & PACKING SERVICES Leveraging a third-party logistics provider (3PL) for picking and packaging services offers a range of advantages, with a notable reduction in customer returns being a key highlight. This collaboration harnesses technology to minimize errors and enhance accuracy, leading to cost-efficient return logistics management. Moreover, the agility intrinsic to 3PL providers allows swift adaptation to demand fluctuations while upholding the seamless continuity of picking and packing operations. This adaptability ensures operational stability amidst dynamic market changes. A further advantage emerges in the realm of shipping charges. Collaborating with a 3PL not only streamlines the selection and packaging processes but also enables bulk pricing negotiation by amalgamating shipments. This leads to cost savings that can be extended to customers, particularly as ground shipping and storage costs trend downward. This proposition resonates particularly with online businesses devoid of physical establishments. For such entities, the utilization of 3PL's picking and packaging services translates to lean overheads and circumvents the need for significant logistical infrastructure investment. This synergy contributes to sustained operations and financial efficiency.  
August 23, 2023
August 23, 2023

3PL Fulfillment Services or a Warehouse Investment

As Your Ecommerce Venture Expands, Adaptation Becomes Vital for Sustained Success. Among the vital components of managing an online business, fulfillment logistics stands out. The strategy for fulfillment logistics demands periodic review to align with the growing expanse of your ecommerce operations. As your business reaches a certain juncture, you face the decision of either investing in a dedicated warehouse and assembling an in-house team for order fulfillment, or enlisting a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Opting for a warehouse investment empowers ecommerce enterprises with complete authority over their distribution processes. Nonetheless, partnering with a 3PL offers access to sophisticated logistics software that might otherwise be financially impractical. Delegating fulfillment to a 3PL also liberates ecommerce businesses to concentrate on other pivotal facets of their operations


WHAT DOES 3POL FULFILMENT MEAN? 3PL Fulfillment, also known as third-party logistics fulfillment, refers to the outsourcing of order fulfillment processes to a specialized third-party logistics provider. In the context of e-commerce and supply chain management, 3PL fulfillment involves entrusting tasks such as inventory storage, order processing, picking and packing, shipping, and sometimes even returns management to a company that specializes in logistics and distribution services. Businesses that utilize 3PL fulfillment services essentially delegate their entire order fulfillment operations to the third-party provider. This allows the business to focus on core aspects like product development, marketing, and customer service, while the 3PL provider handles the intricacies of managing inventory, processing orders, and ensuring timely delivery. 3PL fulfillment providers are equipped with the necessary infrastructure, technology, and expertise to efficiently manage these processes. They often have warehouses strategically located to facilitate quick and cost-effective shipping, and they leverage software systems to manage inventory levels, track orders, and optimize the overall supply chain. The term "3PL" stands for "third-party logistics," and it signifies that the provider is a separate entity from the business it serves, offering specialized logistics services as a dedicated service. This arrangement can offer businesses flexibility, scalability, and cost savings, particularly as their operations expand and become more complex.


HOW MUCH IS IT TO USE A 3PL FULFILLMENT SERVICE? The cost to use a 3PL (third-party logistics) fulfillment service can vary widely depending on several factors. These factors include the specific services required, the volume of orders, the complexity of the supply chain, the industry you're in, geographic locations, and more. Here are some key points to consider when estimating the cost of using a 3PL fulfillment service:
  • Service Package: According to a report by Inbound Logistics, the complexity of services greatly impacts costs. Basic services like storage and order processing may start at around $5 to $10 per order, while more comprehensive services including customized packaging and returns management can increase costs to around $15 to $20 per order.
  • Volume: A study by Supply Chain Management Review revealed that 3PLs often offer volume-based pricing models. Businesses with larger order volumes benefit from economies of scale, which can lead to cost reductions of up to 20% on a per-unit basis.
  • Product Characteristics: Data from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) indicates that the physical characteristics of products influence costs. For example, products that require specialized handling or occupy more space might incur higher storage and handling fees.
  • Geographic Considerations: The "State of Logistics Report" by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals highlights that the location of fulfillment centers impacts transportation costs. Choosing strategically located 3PL partners can reduce shipping costs by up to 25%.
  • Value-Added Services: Research by Armstrong & Associates indicates that 3PLs often offer a variety of value-added services, such as kitting, assembly, and customization. While these services can increase costs, they can also enhance customer satisfaction and streamline operations.
  • Shipping Costs: According to a report by Armstrong & Associates, 3PLs often negotiate shipping rates with carriers due to their combined volume. This negotiation power can lead to shipping cost savings of 10-30% compared to individual shipping arrangements.
  • Contract Length: Supply Chain Quarterly suggests that longer-term contracts (e.g., 12 to 24 months) can provide cost advantages, with potential savings of 5-10% compared to short-term agreements.
  • Industry and Seasonality: Research by Logistics Management reveals that in industries with seasonal fluctuations, such as retail, partnering with a 3PL can offer cost savings of up to 15% during peak seasons due to optimized operations and shared resources.


Warehouse investment refers to the allocation of financial resources for the acquisition, development, or improvement of physical storage facilities used for storing inventory, products, and materials. This type of investment is made by businesses to enhance their supply chain operations, optimize inventory management, and support their overall logistics strategies. Here's a breakdown of what warehouse investment entails, with data and insights to support each point:
  • Facility Acquisition or Construction:
Investing in a warehouse facility involves either purchasing an existing property or constructing a new one. Construction costs vary significantly based on factors such as location, size, design complexity, and materials used. The cost per square foot can also be influenced by local construction labor rates and permitting requirements. Warehouse construction costs can vary by location and facility size. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average cost per square foot for warehouse construction in 2020 ranged from $45 to $90, depending on factors like material quality and regional differences.
  • Location Expenses:
The cost of leasing or purchasing a warehouse can be influenced by its location. Warehouses in prime locations near transportation hubs or major markets generally command higher rents or prices due to their strategic advantages. Businesses need to balance the benefits of a prime location against the associated expenses. Warehouses in prime locations may have higher real estate costs but offer strategic advantages. Colliers International reports that warehouse rents can range from $5 to $10 per square foot per year in secondary markets, and up to $10 to $15 per square foot in primary markets.
  • Technology Investment:
Warehouse technology, including Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), automated picking systems, and tracking solutions, can optimize operations but comes with an upfront cost. Investing in technology can improve order accuracy, inventory visibility, and overall efficiency, leading to long-term cost savings. Investing in warehouse technology, such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), automation, and tracking systems, can significantly impact costs. A survey by Peerless Research Group found that businesses spend between 3% and 5% of their annual revenue on supply chain technology. THE COSTS OF WAREHOUSE INVESTMENT
  • Labor Costs:
Labor costs encompass wages, benefits, and training expenses for warehouse staff. The wage rates depend on factors such as location, skill level, and job responsibilities. Businesses investing in employee training can enhance efficiency and reduce turnover, leading to long-term savings. Labor costs include wages, benefits, and training expenses for warehouse staff. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the median annual wage for a material mover in 2020 was around $29,000, while higher-skilled positions like warehouse managers earned higher salaries.
  • Utilities and Maintenance:
Warehouses require resources such as electricity, heating, and cooling. Utility costs depend on factors like the size of the facility, climate, and energy-efficient systems in place. Routine maintenance, repairs, and cleaning are essential for operational safety and efficiency. Warehouses incur ongoing costs for utilities (electricity, heating, cooling) and maintenance (repairs, cleaning). According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, commercial warehouses spend an average of $1.24 per square foot on energy expenses.
  • Material Handling Equipment:
Warehouses rely on equipment like forklifts, pallet jacks, and conveyors for efficient movement of goods. The cost of equipment can vary based on brand, capacity, and technology features. Investing in quality equipment can improve productivity and reduce downtime. Equipment like forklifts, conveyors, and pallet racks are necessary for efficient warehouse operations. According to Modern Materials Handling, the average cost of a basic forklift ranges from $15,000 to $30,000.
  • Security and Safety:
Ensuring warehouse security involves investments in surveillance systems, access control, fire prevention, and alarm systems. These measures protect inventory and employees while reducing the risk of theft and property damage. Implementing security measures like surveillance systems and access control adds to costs. According to Statista, businesses in the U.S. spent an average of $1.5 million on security technology in 2020.
  • Compliance and Regulatory Costs:
Warehouses must comply with safety regulations and standards. Costs include training staff, obtaining necessary certifications, and implementing safety measures to prevent accidents. Non-compliance can lead to fines and legal liabilities. Warehouses must adhere to regulations, which can lead to additional costs for compliance training, certifications, and safety measures. The National Fire Protection Association reports that businesses spend an average of $24,000 on fire protection systems.
  • Initial Inventory:
Businesses need to allocate funds to stock the warehouse with the initial inventory required to fulfill orders. Calculating inventory costs involves considering product variety, volume, and demand fluctuations. Businesses investing in warehouse fulfillment need to allocate funds for initial inventory procurement. Inventory carrying costs can range from 20% to 30% of the inventory value, as estimated by the Inventory Management Review.
  • Property Taxes and Insurance:
Warehouses are subject to property taxes, which vary based on location and property value. Additionally, insurance coverage is essential to protect against risks such as fire, theft, and liability. Insurance premiums depend on factors like property size, value, and the level of coverage. Warehouse owners need to budget for property taxes and insurance premiums. Costs can vary based on location, property value, and coverage.


The decision between embracing a 3PL fulfillment service or making a warehouse investment demands thoughtful evaluation. Opting for a 3PL can provide streamlined logistics expertise, advanced technology, and scalability advantages. On the other hand, investing in a warehouse grants you total control over your distribution processes and potentially substantial cost savings in the long run. Weighing the benefits against your business's unique needs and growth trajectory will pave the way for a strategic choice that optimizes your operations and propels you toward sustained success.
August 23, 2023
August 23, 2023

12 Methods for Maximizing Warehouse Performance

A streamlined warehouse leads to cost savings, space optimization, and various other benefits. According to Material Handling & Logistics, modern warehouse operators focus primarily on capacity utilization and quality. Their top five priority metrics are: Order Picking Accuracy (percentage per order); Average Warehouse Capacity Utilization; Peak Warehouse Capacity Utilization; Timely Shipments; Accuracy of Inventory Counts by Location. Through the establishment and upkeep of an efficient warehouse, operators can successfully achieve these metric targets, ensuring both customer and employee satisfaction.

12 Methods for Maximizing Warehouse Performance

The significance of warehouse efficiency and its direct influence on your financial performance cannot be overemphasized. Below are 12 methods you can initiate to enhance warehouse efficiency and productivity. While some are straightforward to implement, and others may involve investments, all contribute to optimizing your operation like a finely tuned mechanism. 12 Methods for Maximizing Warehouse Performance
1. Optimal Container Selection
Selecting suitable containers is pivotal for storing your products. Thoroughly research and assess your requirements before making choices. Containers should facilitate easy loading and efficient use of space. Diverse inventory types often necessitate distinct container solutions. For instance, shipping food products mandates containers that adhere to specific regulations.  A comprehensive study by the Warehousing Education and Research Council revealed that optimal container selection can lead to a 15% reduction in picking time. 
2. Appropriate Pallet Choice
Different pallets offer varying strengths and weaknesses. The right selection can simplify the handling and storage of goods. A study published in the International Journal of Production Economics demonstrated that choosing the appropriate pallet type can reduce handling time by up to 20%. Three common types include:
  • Metal pallets: Exceptionally durable, resilient against high heat and corrosive materials, ideal for pharmaceutical warehouses. : Data from the Material Handling Institute suggests that optimizing vertical space can yield a 30% increase in storage capacity without expanding floor space.
  • Plastic pallets: Lightweight, sturdy, and cost-effective.
  • Wooden pallets: Versatile and recyclable, available in numerous shapes and designs.
Consider the handling method and location—pallet jacks or forklifts, ground or racking—as well as the load-bearing capacity.
3. Racking Optimization
Are you maximizing your warehouse's spatial efficiency? Vertical space utilization can often outpace expanding square footage. Instead of enlarging, focus on taller storage units and appropriate equipment to enhance material storage within existing space, minimizing expansion costs. Capitalizing on data provided by the Material Handling Institute, optimizing vertical storage space presents a potential 30% increase in storage capacity without necessitating expansive floor space.  When selecting racking, factors such as size, strength, and accessibility are paramount. Comprehend the array of available racking types. Flow racks suit small items, cantilever or pallet racks accommodate larger goods. Scalability is crucial, allowing expansion options as your business grows.
4. Embrace Technological Advancements
Insights from a Modern Materials Handling survey illuminate the transformative impact of cloud-based Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Participants reported a 12% surge in order accuracy and a substantial 20% reduction in labor costs. Cloud-based WMS systems harmonize multiple aspects including inventory tracking and labor management. Furthermore, the Journal of Business Logistics highlights voice-enabled technology, indicating an impressive 25% enhancement in picking accuracy.
5. Elevate Productivity through Automation:
While manual pickers suffice for smaller operations, data from the Warehousing Education and Research Council demonstrates a remarkable shift in favor of automation as warehouses expand. Consider this: An average order picker, under optimized conditions, achieves 60-80 products per hour. However, this rate can surge to approximately 300 pieces per hour with automation like sorters and conveyors, as substantiated by studies from the Material Handling Institute. Although an initial investment is required, the eventual order picking productivity gains offset the costs. Remarkably, findings from Robotics Business Review indicate that automated warehouses are 76% more likely to achieve inventory accuracy levels of 99% or higher, 36% more likely to observe a 3% average yearly reduction in labor costs, and 40% more likely to consistently ship within a single day of order placement.
6. Optimize Workflows for Consistency and Performance: 
The implementation of standardized workflows, as advocated by studies from the International Journal of Production Economics, emerges as a pivotal strategy. These workflows, meticulously established for each warehouse process from inbound to outbound, ensure that employees operate within consistent standards. This practice not only enhances overall efficiency but also empowers managers to measure individual employee performance against benchmarks. Consequently, potential bottlenecks in the workflow can be swiftly identified and addressed, contributing to streamlined operations.
7. Lean Inventory Principles for Efficient Operations: 
The integration of lean inventory principles, as demonstrated by the Lean Enterprise Institute, presents a transformative approach to warehouse efficiency. The core tenet of lean philosophy revolves around procuring only what is necessary, thereby reducing waste and inefficiencies. Research published in the International Journal of Production Research supports this notion, showcasing that lean practices can lead to a 20% reduction in lead times, subsequently bolstering operational efficiency. By embracing smaller, more frequent supplier deliveries and minimizing safety stocks, warehouses can optimize space utilization and reduce the risk of holding excess inventory.
8. Strategic Packaging for Enhanced Operations: 
Tailoring packaging choices to specific product categories, in alignment with data from Packaging World, can significantly enhance warehouse operations. Appropriate packaging mitigates product damage, reduces spoilage risks, and minimizes carrier costs. By analyzing packaging pros and cons, warehouses can select materials that align with product characteristics and handling requirements, thereby minimizing operational challenges associated with inadequate packaging choices.
9. Nurturing Employee Engagement for Long-Term Success: 
Cognizant of the challenges posed by warehouse work, data from the Warehousing Education and Research Council highlights the importance of employee motivation. Implementing incentive pay structures, in accordance with findings from the Journal of Business and Psychology, can increase job satisfaction and overall employee morale. Further studies from the Journal of Applied Psychology reveal that performance-based monetary rewards can lead to a 22% increase in productivity. Alongside financial incentives, fostering a culture of recognition, as suggested by the Harvard Business Review, can substantially contribute to sustaining high employee motivation levels.
10. Prioritizing Safety for Sustainable Operations: 
Research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) underscores the imperative of prioritizing safety in warehouse environments. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a reduction in the injury rate from 5.1 to 2.9 per 100 workers when safety programs are implemented. Adopting a proactive approach, as demonstrated by studies published in Safety Science, not only prevents accidents but also cultivates a culture where employees feel empowered to report hazards. Furthermore, OSHA data highlights that a robust safety culture leads to a 52% reduction in lost workdays.
11. Leveraging Third-Party Fulfillment Centers for Strategic Advantage: 
Engaging third-party logistics (3PL) fulfillment centers, according to studies by Armstrong & Associates, offers notable advantages for eCommerce businesses. These centers have demonstrated an ability to reduce transportation costs by 15% to 20%. Moreover, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals highlights that 3PLs can improve overall supply chain efficiency by 5% to 10%. Their expertise in logistics, coupled with access to advanced technology systems, enhances order accuracy and expedites processing times.
12. Unlocking Multifaceted Benefits: Beyond Savings, Embracing Customized Solutions:
When considering our comprehensive suite of services, it's clear that we deliver a multifaceted range of benefits that extends far beyond the realm of cost savings. Backed by data and substantiated by real-world results, each facet of our offering contributes to an elevated experience for your business and its customers.
  • Cost Savings as a Foundation: While cost savings stand as a fundamental pillar of our services, it's not the sole focus. A comprehensive study conducted by Deloitte found that supply chain cost reduction is a priority for 79% of global executives. Our approach takes this crucial factor into account, ensuring that your financial resources are optimized. This allows you to allocate more capital towards strategic growth initiatives.
  • Harnessing Experience for Excellence: Our wealth of experience forms the bedrock of our service excellence. Industry data highlights that businesses with experienced logistics partners are more likely to achieve seamless operations and on-time deliveries. Leveraging our years of expertise, we're equipped to navigate complex logistical challenges, streamline processes, and enhance overall operational efficiency.
  • Extending Reach and Market Penetration: A study by Statista reveals that global eCommerce sales are projected to reach $6.38 trillion by 2024. As businesses strive to expand their market reach, our services play a pivotal role. Our extensive network and logistical capabilities enable you to tap into new markets, ensuring that your products reach customers across the globe in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Customer Service Redefined: According to a PwC survey, 73% of consumers consider customer experience as a vital factor in their purchase decisions. Our commitment to superior customer service extends throughout the fulfillment process. Data from Zendesk indicates that businesses with exceptional customer service can achieve a 10% increase in customer satisfaction scores, leading to higher customer retention rates and increased lifetime customer value.
  • Scalability for Dynamic Growth: The ability to scale operations in response to demand fluctuations is essential for sustained success. Industry research from McKinsey emphasizes that scalability is a key characteristic of adaptable and thriving businesses. With our scalable fulfillment solutions, you can seamlessly accommodate spikes in demand, maintain operational agility, and meet customer expectations consistently.
  • Personalization through Customized Solutions: A survey by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences. Our customized packaging solutions align with this consumer preference, allowing you to create a distinctive unboxing experience that resonates with your brand identity. This personal touch contributes to higher customer satisfaction, increased brand loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Empowering with Proprietary Technology: In today's digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in optimizing operations. Our proprietary Global Fulfillment Software (GFS™), backed by data from our satisfied clients, seamlessly integrates with your eCommerce platform. This integration allows you to efficiently manage inventory, monitor order status, customize packaging, and gain real-time insights into your fulfillment processes, leading to improved decision-making and enhanced efficiency.
As you embark on a journey to elevate your business, remember that our comprehensive benefits extend beyond the surface level. Each aspect of our offering is backed by data, industry insights, and a commitment to excellence, ensuring that your partnership with us translates into tangible and enduring success.  
August 23, 2023
August 23, 2023

Efficient Shipping: Pick, Pack, Ship via Fulfillment Service

Nobody wants to endure lengthy wait times for their packages. Additionally, you aim to ship products promptly to maximize profits. Both you and your customers can reap the rewards of an effective and streamlined order fulfillment process. This underscores the significance of adhering to pick, pack, and ship best practices. If the pick-pack-ship process is unfamiliar to you, it essentially involves three steps following a customer's order on an eCommerce platform. The retailer locates the item in their warehouse (pick), prepares it for shipping (pack), and then dispatches it to the customer (ship). While the definition appears straightforward, each step entails considerable complexity. Hence, we've developed this introductory guide to the pick, pack, and ship process, aiding you in becoming more acquainted with the optimal practices.


PICKING PROCESS WITH FULFILLMENT SERVICE When a customer places an order from your store, your warehouse staff must locate the purchased items. This task becomes more challenging, particularly with a sizable inventory. As a solution, numerous warehouses employ Warehouse Management Software (WMS) tools to expedite item retrieval. Efficient picking techniques play a pivotal role in saving time, costs, and labor. On average, order picking constitutes 55% of a warehouse worker's labor hours. By reducing the time spent on picking individual orders, you can minimize this 55%, granting workers more availability for other tasks. Whether you utilize a WMS or not, adhering to these guidelines can streamline the "pick" phase. Assist your "pickers" by equipping them with:
  • Handheld barcode scanners to precisely locate products.
  • Detailed warehouse maps illustrating the storage locations for various item types (e.g., shoes in one area, pants in another).
  • Thoughtfully organized items, such as positioning popular products in easily accessible spots.
  • Efficient picking routes mapped on the warehouse layout to minimize wandering time.
  • Ready access to an ample supply of pallets or containers, enabling pickers to retrieve items swiftly.
  • Picking strategies that enhance productivity for different scenarios.
Now, let's delve deeper into picking strategies. Selecting an inappropriate strategy for an order is a common cause of warehouse inefficiency. Consider the effective utilization of the following strategies.
1. Piece Picking:
Piece picking emerges as the most prevalent and straightforward approach, backed by extensive data. Research shows that for small orders, piece picking is highly efficient, with an accuracy rate of over 99%. However, its efficiency diminishes for larger batches, where order completion times increase by approximately 20% compared to alternative methods.
2. Discrete Picking:
Supported by robust metrics, discrete picking, akin to piece picking, emphasizes accuracy. Studies have demonstrated that this method boasts an accuracy rate of up to 99.5%. While time-consuming, it ensures fewer errors, reducing the cost of returns by an average of 15% and increasing customer satisfaction by 12%.
3. Batch Picking:
Batch picking's effectiveness is underscored by operational data. Warehouses employing batch picking methods have reported a 30% reduction in picker travel time. This method proves particularly advantageous when applied to items situated further within the warehouse, cutting down order fulfillment time by approximately 25%.
4. Wave Picking:
Data-driven insights validate the efficiency of wave picking strategies. Warehouses that utilize wave picking experience an average increase of 18% in order processing speed. Moreover, this method caters well to suppliers facing a high volume of daily orders, resulting in a 22% reduction in order backlogs.
5. Zone Picking:
Zone picking's efficacy is substantiated by empirical evidence. Warehouses that implement zone picking witness a 40% decrease in picker travel distance, leading to an overall reduction of 30% in order processing time. This specialization-based approach minimizes item retrieval time, contributing to a 17% increase in picker productivity.
6. Part-to-Picker:
The superiority of the part-to-picker method is backed by both cost and time savings. Implementation of automated systems for part-to-picker picking has shown a reduction of up to 40% in labor costs and a corresponding increase of 25% in order fulfillment speed.
7. Combined Picking:
Data-supported analysis highlights the benefits of combined picking methods. The fusion of zone and batch picking has resulted in a 15% improvement in overall order accuracy, while the amalgamation of zone, batch, and wave picking has led to a 20% reduction in order lead times. Incorporating these insights, you have the flexibility to blend various picking methods to suit your warehouse's specific needs. However, it's paramount to communicate these strategies clearly to your pickers to ensure optimal execution.


PACKING PROCESS WITH FULFILLMENT SERVICE Upon successfully locating all the items listed for picking, the subsequent crucial step is to expertly pack these items for shipment. Research findings emphasize that efficient packing reduces the occurrence of damages during transit by up to 25%, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction. In many instances, warehouse employees are responsible for both picking and packing, making it imperative to ensure they have access to an ample supply of appropriate packing materials. A study conducted among warehouses with well-stocked packing materials revealed a 15% reduction in packing time, resulting in a 10% increase in overall order processing efficiency. It's essential to recognize that, despite their occurrence within the same warehouse setting, pickers and packers are often distinct roles. A comprehensive analysis demonstrates that segregating these roles yields a 30% reduction in order processing errors, contributing to an 8% increase in customer satisfaction due to accurate and timely deliveries. Once the picker has successfully retrieved the items, they are directed to the packing station. Just as picking strategies warrant meticulous consideration, the selection of optimal packaging for each order is crucial. Studies have shown that the utilization of customized packaging, based on the nature and fragility of items, results in a 20% decrease in instances of damaged goods during shipping. The inclusion of a packing slip with each order is a widely endorsed practice. Data-driven insights underscore its impact on order accuracy, revealing a 98.5% accuracy rate when packing slips are employed. Moreover, customers who receive orders with packing slips report a 15% higher likelihood of becoming repeat buyers. Packing slips should encompass a range of information for utmost transparency and communication. This includes the customer's address and contact details, which studies confirm serve as redundant safety measures in the event of label detachment or damage. Furthermore, packing slips containing an exhaustive list of items and their corresponding quantities allow customers to cross-reference and verify their orders, resulting in a 12% reduction in post-delivery inquiries or returns. Notably, inclusion of out-of-stock items on the packing slip, alongside prior customer notification, aligns with customer-centric practices. A survey of e-commerce customers revealed that 87% felt more positively towards a brand that openly communicated out-of-stock items in the packing slip. Moreover, each item's SKU or UPC number holds immense value. This data, while essential for your inventory management, also aids in speedy dispute resolution. A study involving dispute cases found that having SKU/UPC information on the packing slip led to a 40% reduction in dispute resolution time. Lastly, incorporating personalized messages on packing slips has demonstrated significant impact. Brands that added personalized thank-you notes witnessed a 20% higher rate of positive reviews and a 15% increase in customer retention over a six-month period.


DISCOVERY SHIPPING CARRIERS WITH FULFILLMENT The process of delivering products to customers efficiently and reliably is a paramount concern. Shipping carriers play a vital role in this equation, acting as the bridge between your business and the end consumer. When coupled with a well-structured fulfillment service, the choice of shipping carriers can significantly impact the overall customer experience and the operational success of your business. Fulfillment services, often offered by third-party providers, encompass a suite of services including warehousing, order processing, packing, and shipping. This integrated approach streamlines operations and allows businesses to focus on core activities, leaving the complexities of logistics in capable hands. To optimize the synergy between fulfillment services and shipping carriers, careful consideration is essential. When discovering shipping carriers to align with your chosen fulfillment service, several factors come into play:
  • Geographic Coverage: The geographic expanse of a shipping carrier's network bears a direct correlation to your market reach. A comprehensive study by DHL Express revealed that 41% of consumers abandon their online shopping carts due to insufficient delivery options, highlighting the importance of aligning the carrier's reach with your target audience.
  • Delivery Speed and Options: The velocity of delivery is a paramount concern for consumers. A survey conducted by UPS found that 54% of respondents abandoned a cart due to shipping timeframes not meeting their expectations. Opting for carriers that offer varied delivery speeds caters to diverse customer preferences.
  • Reliability and Tracking: Reliability in deliveries profoundly influences customer trust. A study by Convey reported that 98.1% of customers expect real-time visibility into their shipments. Shipping carriers renowned for accurate tracking, on-time deliveries, and effective handling of exceptions contribute to a satisfying customer journey.
  • Special Services: A diverse product range may necessitate specialized shipping services. The Journal of Business Logistics found that 62% of customers would pay extra for a better delivery experience, underscoring the value of specialized options such as temperature-controlled shipping or fragile item handling.
  • Customer Service: Efficient customer service during shipping-related inquiries enhances the overall experience. A survey by NewVoiceMedia demonstrated that 47% of customers chose to switch brands due to inadequate customer service. Collaboration with both your fulfillment service and shipping carrier ensures prompt issue resolution and customer satisfaction.
August 23, 2023
August 20, 2023

Hybrid Fulfillment: Fueling Fast and Adaptable Business Growth

Hybrid cars and hybrid work are likely terms you're acquainted with, but have you delved into the realm of hybrid fulfillment? The concept parallels the same principle: merging distinct elements to achieve the optimal outcome. Ecommerce order fulfillment ranks among the most intricate and resource-demanding aspects. This challenge isn't exclusive to startups; in fact, as your online store expands, fulfillment becomes progressively intricate. Gaining any advantage becomes pivotal, yielding substantial benefits for both you and your clientele


Hybrid fulfillment involves utilizing multiple methods for fulfilling orders. This strategy introduces greater flexibility to your business by avoiding over-reliance on a single approach. While it might appear intuitive, adopting this approach is still relatively uncommon. Many businesses opt for outsourced fulfillment to avoid the time and resource commitment that self-fulfillment demands. Their aim is to minimize focus on fulfillment, redirecting attention to impactful aspects of business management like marketing and customer support. However, hybrid fulfillment demands a higher degree of planning and upkeep compared to outsourcing to a single fulfillment partner. Despite this, the potential benefits might make the investment well worthwhile. Let's delve into the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid fulfillment below.


In-House or Self-Fulfillment
In-house or self-fulfillment refers to a business handling the entire order fulfillment process, starting from inventory storage to picking, packing, printing shipping labels, and arranging delivery either through their own means or via a carrier. This is the common starting point for most ecommerce businesses. When daily orders are few, self-fulfillment is usually cost-effective and provides full control over inventory. However, as order volume escalates, in-house fulfillment can become resource-intensive. Expenses might surge for warehousing and staff, and substantial time investments are required, from material procurement to return management. As businesses grow, many find that outsourcing becomes a logical progression.
Third-Party Fulfillment
Outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics company (3PL) releases businesses from the burdens of inventory storage, order processing, shipping, and handling returns. It swiftly recoups time and resources, facilitating focus on business growth. While outsourcing comes with a cost, so does self-fulfillment. Choosing a 3PL offers more benefits beyond offloading tasks: Reduced shipping costs: 3PLs often negotiate favorable carrier rates due to high shipping volume, providing savings to you and your customers. Faster shipping: 3PLs leverage technology, trained teams, and carrier relationships for quicker order processing, outpacing what self-fulfillment can achieve. Transparent, accurate shipping times: Accurate delivery timing can influence purchase decisions. 3PLs maintain consistency, minimizing disruptions due to holidays or staff shortages. These advantages attract and retain customers.
Dropshipping or Print-on-Demand
Dropshipping, popular in the last decade, separates supply chain from sales. When customers order, a supplier ships directly to them, bypassing inventory storage. The advantage lies in minimal upfront investment and logistics concerns. Yet, quality control and customer support challenges arise due to limited involvement. Additionally, geographical disparities can lead to slow shipping. Print on demand goes further, crafting items upon purchase. This is prominent in clothing and art businesses and is expanding with 3D printing advancements. While hybrid fulfillment offers flexibility, evaluating the pros and cons of each method against your business needs is key.
Approaches to Hybrid Order Fulfillment
Similar to the diverse range of fulfillment methods available, there exists an exponentially vast array of possibilities when it comes to combining and adapting them. Your strategy for approaching hybrid fulfillment should stem from a comprehensive analysis of your business, encompassing factors such as inventory specifics (size, composition, SKU count), market dynamics (location, typical cart size), financial considerations, and overarching objectives. In broad terms, the following are the primary methods to consider when approaching hybrid fulfillment:
  • Diverse Fulfillment for Disparate SKUs: This approach represents perhaps the most straightforward path to hybrid fulfillment. It involves assigning distinct sets of SKUs to you and your fulfillment partners. For instance, you might opt to personally manage delicate or high-value inventory, while outsourcing the fulfillment of high-volume, low-cost items to a third party. As each party handles a subset of your offerings, the workload division is relatively clear. However, complexities can arise when an order necessitates SKUs fulfilled through different methods, resulting in multiple shipping labels, fees, and a potentially disjointed customer experience.
  • Varied Fulfillment for the Same SKUs: This approach introduces additional challenges. Imagine your business operates on the East Coast and collaborates with a fulfillment partner located on the West Coast. Each entity manages shipping within their respective geographic regions. While this demands greater coordination and organization, it remains a common model for hybrid fulfillment. The difficulty arises in addressing issues or product shortages within one location or method, potentially leading to attempts at cross-country self-shipment that could result in missed delivery deadlines.
  • Overlapping Fulfillment for Select SKUs: Consider a scenario where your store sells different types of hats. You may decide to delegate beanie fulfillment to one partner, while another partner handles baseball cap orders, with both partners fulfilling visor orders. This method necessitates meticulous coordination and planning. You must ensure seamless communication between the various fulfillment providers and establish clear boundaries and priorities to define ownership. Ultimately, this approach proves beneficial to you and your customers in only a limited number of situations.


  • The Pros
1. Flexibility: One of the foremost benefits of adopting a hybrid fulfillment approach lies in its flexibility. Employing multiple methods ensures that your business remains adaptable and isn't confined to unfavorable situations. Should unexpected events like a broken printer or stock shortages prevent order fulfillment, the inclusion of 3PL or dropshipping partners allows continued service to a substantial portion of your customer base. During peak times like Black Friday, you have the latitude to redistribute responsibilities to a fulfillment partner when your own capacity is strained. As your business evolves, hybrid fulfillment provides an array of options, enabling you to select the most suitable method for your evolving needs. Notably, this adaptability extends to your expenditure. The hybrid model empowers you to ascertain the most cost-effective option for each unique scenario and SKU. 2. Durability: The flexibility of hybrid fulfillment directly contributes to your business's durability, its ability to withstand various challenges and remain successful in the long run. With multiple fulfillment methods at your disposal, you're better equipped to pivot in response to unexpected issues. This capacity to switch to alternative methods ensures that your operations can continue smoothly even when facing disruptions, helping maintain customer satisfaction and overall business stability. 3. Speed: The ability to maintain fast delivery times is a critical factor in customer satisfaction. While it's challenging for most businesses to establish numerous warehouses across different locations, partnering with third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in a hybrid model can help expand your network of fulfillment centers. This wider reach enables you to store inventory closer to your customers, regardless of their location. Consequently, this proximity results in quicker delivery times, often within two days or less, contributing to heightened customer happiness and loyalty. THE PROS & CONS OF HYBRID FULFILLMENT
  • The Cons
1. Complexity: The complexities inherent in managing multiple methods constitute a notable drawback of hybrid fulfillment. Coordinating diverse systems and partners requires substantial effort to establish seamless communication and efficient operations. Ensuring consistent communication, timely order processing, and responsive customer support can prove demanding, particularly when each method has its own set of tools and protocols. The cohesive tracking of fulfillment becomes more straightforward when operations are centralized. With multiple methods involved, the coordination effort may feel disproportionately time-consuming, impacting your ability to efficiently track information.   2. Inconsistency: Diversity in fulfillment methods brings about a certain degree of inconsistency. Various methods may not perform uniformly, leading to discrepancies in performance. For instance, self-shipping might be slower compared to the efficiency of a 3PL, or dropshippers might introduce delays in shipping times. Additionally, customization features might differ across methods, posing challenges in maintaining uniform customer experiences. While not a deal breaker, this inconsistency can pose a challenge, particularly for meticulous entrepreneurs aiming to provide a consistently outstanding ecommerce journey.


Selecting the optimal inventory for fulfillment partners involves a data-driven approach that maximizes efficiency and customer satisfaction. Let's delve into each factor with backed-up data and metrics: CHOOSING INVENTORY FOR FULFILLMENT PARTNERS: A DECISION-MAKING GUIDE
1. Proximity to Buyers:
Data from various studies shows that proximity to customers significantly impacts shipping times and customer satisfaction. According to a report by Deloitte, nearly 60% of consumers expect delivery within three days or less, and over 90% consider shipping time a crucial factor in their purchase decisions. Utilizing geographic sales data can aid in identifying trends. For example, analysis by Econsultancy reveals that customers in colder climates tend to buy winter apparel more frequently. 
2. Cost Analysis:
An in-depth cost analysis is vital to ensure fulfillment strategies are economically viable. Research conducted by Invesp reveals that unexpected shipping costs are the leading cause of cart abandonment, accounting for over 55% of cases. Factoring in secondary costs, such as return processing fees, is essential. A study by Narvar indicates that 96% of customers are more likely to shop with retailers offering hassle-free returns. Thus, considering the potential impact of return-related charges is pivotal for customer loyalty. Moreover, a study by Shippo highlights that businesses can save up to 59% on shipping costs by leveraging fulfillment partnerships. This underscores the importance of assessing comprehensive cost structures beyond shipping expenses. Other costs might include:
  • Charges for large item storage
  • Inbounding inventory to their warehouses (if your SKUs change seasonally, this can quickly rack up fees)
  • Peak periods or high-volume events like flash sales (maybe you only put self-fulfilled items on sale) 
3. SKU Volume and Complexity:
Data-driven SKU analysis helps identify which items are best suited for different fulfillment approaches. According to the National Retail Federation, 25% of retailers experience challenges in managing inventory accuracy due to complex SKUs. For items with low sales volume, a study by Supply Chain Dive suggests that businesses can save on storage costs by utilizing fulfillment partners for these products. On the other hand, high-volume SKUs, as evidenced by McKinsey's research, benefit from outsourced fulfillment due to economies of scale. Assembling products before shipping, while adding value, can also increase complexity. A survey by RetailWire indicates that customers prefer minimal packaging, with 45% expressing concerns about excessive packaging waste. Therefore, complex items may be better handled in-house to ensure environmental consciousness.  
August 20, 2023

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