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What High-Volume E-Commerce Businesses Need to Know About Fulfillment

Whether you’ve been a high-volume e-commerce business for a long time or are growing at a rapid rate, the order fulfillment process can bring challenges that take a toll on profits–and your sanity.

Since more orders can come with more errors and expenses, it’s critical for high-volume e-commerce businesses to have a seamless fulfillment process in place.

If you’re struggling with the frustrations of high-volume fulfillment, here’s what you need to know, including:

State of High-Volume E-Commerce in 2022 and Beyond

First, the good news. During the pandemic, many consumers discovered that they preferred shopping online versus in brick-and-mortar stores.

That trend has remained in 2022, and it's doubtful consumers will ever fully return to their pre-pandemic in-person shopping habits. Recent studies have shown that nearly half of consumers have permanently changed their buying methods.

Now for the bad news. While shipping and supply chain challenges are slightly improving, they won't be going away any time soon. The pandemic exacerbated supply chain challenges that were brewing before COVID, such as:

  • Inadequate warehouse space and a shortage of shipping containers.
  • Labor shortages (73% of warehouse operators reported being short-staffed).
  • Lack of parts needed to maintain and repair equipment and vehicles.
  • Port congestion.
  • Foreign port lockdowns.
  • Rising fuel costs and shortages.

Supply chain challenges have plagued e-commerce businesses of all sizes for the past few years. The challenges are especially hard for high-volume e-commerce companies due to the large quantities of products, raw materials, ingredients and packaging materials required to meet demand.

In addition to supply chain challenges, high-volume online retailers are faced with other fulfillment frustrations caused by the large number of orders they receive.

Common Challenges of High-Volume E-Commerce Fulfillment

Inventory Storage and Management

Inventory must be carefully managed when you’re doing a high volume of e-commerce transactions. It’s easy to run out of a popular item if you don’t keep up with stock in real-time.

The problem with inventory storage and management for high-volume e-commerce businesses is fluctuation.

Seasonal fluctuations can result in too much or too little warehouse space for inventory, and leave online retailers scrambling to find more space or paying for space that’s not being used.

Seasonal fluctuations can cause another issue when it comes to staffing.

Fluctuating Staffing Needs

When peak season demand is in full swing, you need to make sure you’re fully staffed for it. Hiring permanent staff to handle peak sales periods may leave you overstaffed during other times of the year.

On the other hand, if you get an unexpected sales rush during the slower season–say, after editorial coverage of your products in a major publication–you can be caught short-staffed.

But hiring temp workers isn’t always a solution either. You need to train each new group of workers, which can drain resources and lead to errors.

Order Accuracy

More orders can result in more errors. Unfortunately, there’s little-to-no room for error in e-commerce. More than half of all online shoppers say order accuracy influences where they shop. And nearly 40 percent of online shoppers will never shop from a store again after a poor delivery experience.

Shipping

Unfortunately, shipping these days is complex and nuanced. Without extensive knowledge and experience in e-commerce logistics, high-volume e-commerce businesses can face high costs and slow delivery times.

While Amazon and Walmart have entire departments to handle shipping, many high-volume e-commerce businesses lack those types of resources. These challenges can be mitigated in-house, but the resources, time and investment may not be feasible for some businesses.

Which is why most high-volume online retailers make the decision to outsource fulfillment to an all-in-one e-commerce fulfillment service.

Benefits of Outsourcing E-Commerce Fulfillment 

An all-in-one e-commerce fulfillment service will handle everything from the moment a customer completes their order. A fulfillment partner offers services for every part of the order fulfillment process, including receiving product, storing inventory, inventory management, order processing, pick and pack, kitting and assembly, shipping and returns.

The best fulfillment centers provide other business-boosting services, such as:

  • Customs brokerage and importing services.
  • International shipping.
  • Print and marketing collateral services.

And in regard to those common fulfillment challenges we mentioned above? An e-commerce fulfillment company can eliminate the frustrations of fulfillment while reducing costs for online retailers. Here’s how.

Inventory Storage and Management

Outsourcing inventory storage and management to an e-commerce fulfillment partner can reduce costs and headaches since you’ll never have to worry about over- or under-estimating your storage needs as demand fluctuates. You also won’t have to worry about paying for warehouse or storage space that goes unused during slower seasons.

A fulfillment company will handle everything from receiving shipments to storing merchandise to shipping. And since they seamlessly integrate with your storefront, they’ll work closely with you to analyze historical and real-time data to forecast and prepare for fluctuations in demand.

Fluctuating Staffing Needs

Fluctuations in demand impact fulfillment staffing needs as well. With an e-commerce fulfillment service, you never have to worry about being over- or under-staffed again. Their expertly-trained staff are well-versed in the demands of high-volume e-commerce fulfillment, and will ensure fast and accurate order processing in both busy and slow seasons.

Order Accuracy

Human error is the top culprit when it comes to order errors. As mentioned above, a fulfillment center has expertly-trained staff with extensive experience in fulfillment and quality assurance. They will have extensive processes and technology in place to ensure your customers get exactly what they ordered.

Shipping

Thanks to long-standing relationships with carriers and access to a global distribution network, an e-commerce fulfillment partner is able to create custom shipping solutions that reduce costs and expedite delivery times.
For example, at GLF we’ll identify the most efficient and trustworthy carriers for your deliveries and create a custom shipping solution to meet the unique needs of your business, products and customers. Our global logistics division offers international shipping solutions, as well.

High-Volume E-Commerce Fulfillment with GLF

If your high-volume e-commerce business is struggling with fulfillment, the team of experts at GLF are here to help. For 20 years, we have created custom fulfillment solutions for e-commerce businesses across the country. Contact us today to learn how we can help!

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