The COVID-19 pandemic caused substantial growth in ecommerce marketplaces, shifted consumer behavior and caused significant changes to the ways brands run their business. And ecommerce fulfillment has become more complex due to the acceleration of ecommerce business.
According to estimates from Digital Commerce 360, consumers in the U.S. contributed $105 billion in online revenue and accelerated ecommerce by two years. This surge in demand has put substantial pressures on brands to deliver products quickly and in good condition.
Interestingly, we’ve found that consumers are more willing to try new products and buy from different brands. According to McKinsey, 76% of U.S. consumers have changed stores, brands, or the way they shop during the pandemic. And younger consumers in particular are showing less brand loyalty. This means, newer brands Whitebox works with have more of the market available to them than in the past.
But connecting with customers is becoming more difficult. Some brands are developing loyalty programs, and other brands are adopting more personalized approaches to fulfillment, such as branded boxes.
Bottomline: brands need fulfillment solutions that are scalable, multi-channel and agnostic to carriers. And importantly, brands need a fulfillment provider that offers more than a purely transactional experience.
Here’s what brands should look for to find the best ecommerce fulfillment service.
In 2021, customer experience matters more than ever before. Customer-oriented fulfillment solutions with flexible shipping networks and access to data-driven insights can help brands stay ahead of the curve.
Many fulfillment providers receive benefits, such as discounts or kickbacks, by partnering with one carrier. Loyalty to one carrier is not optimal for ecommerce success, however. Take for example how the 2020 United States Postal Service backlog led to lengthy fulfillment times and negative customer reviews for brands.
Ecommerce brands need a fulfillment provider that will find the best carrier solution for every order. With a carrier-agnostic ecommerce fulfillment service like Whitebox, brands can trust in Whitebox’s ability to select from multiple shipping options according to your needs. These services help brands reduce costs and avoid backlogs.
Brands need to grow—and they need fulfillment solutions that can scale to support their growth. With a scalable provider, brands don’t need to worry about whether their fulfillment network can handle their volume; instead, the provider is growing alongside them.
For example, Whitebox recently added 650,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and has facilities in Memphis, Las Vegas, and Baltimore, serving 99% of the United States. Our new Baltimore facility is eight times the size of our previous one, and we scaled our Las Vegas facility to five times its previous size. This space allows us to sustainably scale alongside our clients.
Diversification is key to ecommerce success in 2021. Brands need to take advantage of multiple ecommerce marketplaces, such as Amazon and Walmart, to reach as many consumers as possible. To accomplish this, brands need to partner with ecommerce fulfillment services that have solutions that support direct-to-consumer transactions on any marketplace platform.
Brands selling on multiple marketplaces need to prepare a specific amount of inventory to sell on each marketplace. This segmentation can create logistical challenges for brands. With marketplace inventory pooling like Whitebox, however, brands can consolidate their inventory and send it directly to the fulfillment provider. The fulfillment provider will have solutions in place to meet the requirements of and fulfill orders on all marketplaces, alleviating logistical burdens.
To grow, brands must understand how customers engage with their products online. They also need to identify and solve roadblocks in the fulfillment journey. With business intelligence tools, brands can gain insights into their customers and make better informed decisions. But to harness the power of data, brands need a fulfillment provider that can help them use it to grow.
By partnering with an ecommerce fulfillment provider like Whitebox with access to these tools, brands can improve operations. The Whitebox platform provides the data-driven insights that can help brands grow. For example, our technology can tell brands how much product to keep in stock and where to place inventory. With access to insights, brands ensure availability for their most popular products with the shortest fulfillment times.
First and foremost, though, brands shouldn’t go looking for a fulfillment provider too early. New brands have the opportunity to connect more closely with their customers at the very beginning. Consumers willing to try a brand for the first time are the ones that provide the best, most honest feedback. Having that connection with customers early on is crucial — it helps brands understand what they should be doing and what their products should be like. And that’s an opportunity brands can never get back.
Before partnering with an ecommerce fulfillment provider, brands should consider a few key factors. Firstly, it may make sense for brands with high monthly shipment volumes to start looking for a fulfillment provider. Secondly, brands shipping larger products may benefit from the help as well. Thirdly, a brand should consider how much the rest of its business is growing and how much it wants to invest in that growth.
In the ecommerce landscape, every order matters. Fulfillment providers can choose to be transactional, focusing on the numbers instead of the human receiving each package. Or fulfillment providers can choose to be a partner, working closely with brands to improve their operations.
Whitebox is a fulfillment provider that chooses to be a partner. It works closely with brands to provide suggestions to improve numerous processes, such as packaging, shipping speeds, and pricing. Basing its insights on extensive data, Whitebox is a partner that leverages the power of analytics to help brands succeed in the ecommerce landscape.
Contact Whitebox today to learn more about our fulfillment solutions.