Earlier this month, we attended Operations Summit
in Columbus, Ohio. This conference focuses on omni-channel operations and fulfillment which is something we specialize in at FIDELITONE. We love attending conferences like this one because it's a great opportunity to stay on top of the latest industry trends. We learned a lot this year from many great speakers. Keep reading as we share our top takeaways.
1. Physical stores are still important in the Omni-Channel road map
Did you know that the store is part of the online shopping journey 71% of the time? That's a huge percentage! Many customers are choosing to buy online then pick up in-store (known as BOPIS). E-commerce continues to grow, but physical stores aren't going anywhere. They're just becoming more interactive and innovative. More on that later.
2. There's no doubt that customers want faster shipping
We attended a session on Machine Learning with Ivan Tchakarov, Director of Operations at Google. He says there has been a 200% increase in same-day shipping searches. Buyers now come to expect two-day shipping and they want it for free. The standard used to be 4-6 days, but that is no longer the case.
3. Technology will improve the customer experience and logistics
There are a lot of exciting things happening in technology right now. Here are some key trends:
- Artificial Intelligence - Through AI, Amazon is able to predict a consumer's buyer behavior 18 months into the future.
- 3D Printing - Fedex is already implementing this. It could be a good way to manage temporary spikes in demand.
- Digital Virtual Dressing Room - A better tool to detect fit will help with product appeal and accuracy, and major bonus - reduces returns.
- Autonomous vehicles - We will start to see trials by the end of this year.
- Marketplaces including Amazon, Newegg, eBay, Jet, Walmart, Rakuten, etc. - These will continue to be a sales channel and serve as a gateway for your brand.
- Autonomous warehouse robots - Robots will lead to more efficient and accurate picking, but are not a replacement for workers.
4. Let your data tell you what to do next
Is it time to automate or introduce robots? Let your data guide you. Invest in data mining and analytics so you know when to invest your CapEx. Consider working with a third-party to manage your social media. With social media, poor performance can have a serious impact on your brand.
5. Consider a 3PL partner
Why should you partner with a third-party logistics provider? There are a couple of major advantages. First, you get increased speed in a world where buyers want free and fast shipping. And second, you can scale your business and expand into other channels when you have seasoned experts by your side.
We really like SweatBlock's criteria for selecting a 3PL:
1. Location - What is their proximity to you and your customers? Where is your product located in their warehouse? Consider:
- Minimize shipping times and expense
- Is it stored with like products?
- Special storage requirements
2. Can you drop in?
- Is the fulfillment partner open to a merchant dropping by to see their product?
- How formal is the procedure to visit?
- Will they allow you to open up a package to spot check quantity/quality control?
3. What kind of training do they have for how to handle products?
- Temperature control procedures
- Proper ways to kit packages
- Proper way to handle returns
4. Are they going to charge you for every little thing or scale with your growth?
- What is included in your rate?
- What services are a la cart?
- Clean understanding of services in scope
5. How does the fulfillment partner handle Amazon shipments?
- Do they understand the requirements?
- Have they proven to be successful and meeting requirements?
- Are they able to adapt as requirements change?
6. Responsiveness, communication and empathy
- Does the fulfillment partner treat your product like they would if it were their own?
- Do they respond to questions or view it as a bother?
- Is the partner open to your preferred method of communication?
If you choose FIDELITONE as your logistics partner, you can be assured that we'll work closely with you to seize opportunities and grow your business. Learn about our Omni-Channel capabilities.