The past year of explosive growth in e-commerce sales taught many brands a valuable and painful lesson. As everyone shopped from home, sales mushroomed overnight for brands that were already selling online. Growth was not the problem. Keeping up with that growth was the hard part.
What good is rapid growth if you can’t manage your inventory, can’t ramp up operations to fulfill orders, and lose money processing and shipping every order? The fact is, every aspect of e-commerce growth is either empowered by your subscription brand’s fulfillment capabilities or hamstrung by the lack of them.
Let’s look at some of the areas where fulfillment operations can make or break your business.
An investment in automation and robotics is significant for the success of small-parcel direct-to-consumer (DTC) fulfillment, such as subscription boxes. Automation technologies allow fulfillment operations to quickly ramp up during periods of unusually high demand, as well as lower your cost per order as order volume steadily increases.
Unfortunately, most small businesses and warehouses cannot afford the steep capital investment automation requires. A larger fulfillment provider committed to investing in automation will always be able to keep up with orders.
Seamless Technology Integrations
As multichannel brands grow, technology integrations become more complex and harder to maintain. Order fulfillment is where the rubber meets the road. Inventory shortages, payment problems, shipping delays, and customer service complaints are all indications that you need to find a fulfillment partner that plays well with others. When integration is the focus, brand owners can manage inventory, prioritize orders from multiple channels, track inbound and outbound shipments, and handle returns — all in real-time and through one system.
As your e-commerce brand grows, your fulfillment provider should be a resource, not a roadblock. The right provider will have strong, strategic partnerships with technology providers in the industry and experience with all types of DTC brands, including yours. They will be a big help when it comes to building an efficient tech stack. In addition, they can recommend value-added solutions to help you build your brand, including payment gateways, buy now pay later (BNPL) solutions, systems integrators, MarTech solutions, tax services, and return merchandise authorization (RMA) solutions.
International Fulfillment Expertise
Going international is a huge step for the growth of a brand, but one thing is clear: You can’t expand internationally without a fulfillment partner that knows the ins and outs of cross-border shipping. The complexities of customs regulations, duty fees and tax collection, language barriers, and multiple payment systems in various currencies keep many companies from attempting this growth strategy. A fulfillment provider with international shipping expertise can smooth the waters and recommend integrated solutions that simplify the process.
Accurate, efficient, on-time fulfillment is the engine that enables e-commerce growth. If your fulfillment provider excels in each of these areas, consider your brand well situated for growth. If not, it may be time to find a new partner.