Despite rising inflation and continued supply chain disruptions, 2021 has been a pop-open-the-champagne kind of year for e-commerce. For the first half of the year, sales totaled $408.51 billion, up 21.9% from the first half of 2020.
Retail analysts are in agreement that this holiday season will be fantastic, with sales increasing from 7 to 11% (depending on who you ask). Looking ahead to 2022, Adobe Analytics has predicted that e-commerce sales will reach $1 trillion in the U.S. for the first time ever. (We said wow, too, when we read that stat.)
Now is the time to start thinking about e-commerce fulfillment for 2022 to ensure you remain competitive and seize every opportunity that comes up in this lucrative industry.
Before we discuss 2022, let’s review some of the challenges e-commerce businesses faced in 2021 when it came to fulfillment, as they provide a lot of clues for what to tackle in the new year ahead.
E-Commerce Businesses Rank Logistics High on the List of Fulfillment Challenges
Digital Commerce 360 conducted their annual pre-holiday survey of 100 retailers over the summer and into fall (July - September), and logistics ranked high on the list of fulfillment challenges that retailers are facing.
- Retailers said timely delivery (44%) and enhancing fulfillment efforts (31%) are the biggest challenges they face when meeting high customer expectations.
- 41% are concerned about securing sufficient inventory to meet demand.
- 35% expect shoppers will demand even faster shipping and 26% may take advantage of same-day delivery.
- 29% want to be sure that technology systems are updated.
- To ensure things go smoothly, retailers report that they will aggressively monitor deliveries (30%), work to minimize disruptions (28%) and use technology to assist in those efforts (14%).
Having the right product mix and enough inventory is also a major concern for retailers:
- 38% reported it’s hard to get the numbers right thanks to fluctuating consumer confidence.
- 37% said it’s always a challenge to forecast growth.
- 35% stated that meeting profitability goals was weighing on their minds.
- 22% are concerned about having the right product assortment.
The third major theme in the survey was personalization and merchandising:
- 36% of retailers are adding more personalized experiences.
- 36% said they deliver unique or curated product selections.
- 31% indicated that innovative merchandising is a differentiator.
It’s clear that technology-driven fulfillment, robust analytics and a trusted e-commerce fulfillment partner are important factors to consider when preparing for 2022.
Your E-Commerce Fulfillment Checklist for 2022
Partner With a Logistics Expert
If anything was crystal clear from the Digital Commerce 360 survey it’s this; you need to get orders out the door and into your customers’ hands quickly. Kitting and assembly, which we discuss further below, ensures your customer orders are packed and ready to go ASAP. But then what? Solutions for logistics is not a one-size-fits-all commodity. It’s a complex science that a partner with extensive logistics experience can help navigate to find the perfect “formula” for your business.
At GLF, flexibility is baked into our process. No matter your shipping needs, we will find the most efficient and reliable shipping and delivery options for your business.
Got international clients? Or are you looking to expand your business to the global market? Our global logistics division and distribution network will help you simplify the challenges of international shipments and find you a fast, cost-effective solution for international orders.
Embrace High-Tech Inventory Management and Analytics
Analyzing insights from real-time and historical data are key components to prepping for 2022. By spending time in your inventory management system to find data-driven insights, you can benchmark your success and plan for product demand in 2022.
Start with the basics:
- What products sold best in 2021? What didn’t?
- When was demand highest? Lowest?
- If you have excess inventory, how can you bundle it with other products for your 2022 promotions? (You can add excess inventory to a kit with related, in-demand items.)
Looking forward to 2022, it’s critical to know your inventory levels and when to order more products. If you don’t have a system that can deliver real-time data, GLF can help.
We’ll integrate our software with your storefront, so you have oversight of inventory and operations at all times. We can also help you identify manufacturing turn times, and use projected and historical volumes to determine ideal inventory levels for your products. Best of all, we can get you set up and running in just 24 to 48 hours.
Use Kitting and Assembly for Personalized and Efficient Shipping
Kitting and assembly saves time and money, especially when you personalize shipments.
Kitting is the assembly of two or more different items into one offering (think facial cleansers, toners, and serums), and assigning them one SKU. Assembly is the process of arranging the individual items in the kit.
Each kit is assigned one SKU, and the process is done in bulk ahead of time. When a customer places an order, our fulfillment team looks for the SKU, grabs the kit off the shelf and sends it to production for shipping.
We can also include high-quality, customized print materials during kitting and assembly. Materials can be customized based on the interests and preferences of each customer. Options include:
- Thank you notes.
- Product catalog.
- Brand story.
- Cross-promotional collateral.
Follow this checklist, and you’ll be on the road to a successful 2022!
Partner With GLF for E-Commerce Fulfillment in 2022
With 20 years of experience in e-commerce fulfillment, GLF takes pride in offering transparent pricing, unmatched reliability and personalized services. Our team takes the time upfront to learn your business and work with you as a proactive partner to create personalized solutions that sync with your processes. Plus, our marketing fulfillment and global logistics divisions allow us to provide e-commerce businesses with turnkey access to a state-of-the-art print shop, commercial mail house and our global distribution network. Contact us today and let’s talk about your plans for 2022.