The Right Ingredients for Successful Ecommerce Fulfillment

Similar to cooking a meal from scratch, finding the right ingredients for a small parcel shipping solution to meet your third-party logistics (3PL) warehouse’s unique needs can be difficult. Ideally, the right small parcel shipping solution for your business will satisfy all of the main stakeholders involved—the warehouse manager in charge of the daily warehouse operations, staff who need to adopt and use the system, and your customers who have increasing expectations for meeting stringent service level agreements. This is especially true for those warehouses doing ecommerce fulfillment.

According to McKinsey, the US experienced ten years of ecommerce growth in 90 days due to the pandemic. The onslaught of ecommerce growth begs the question, how can I position my 3PL to scale operations and meet rising ecommerce demand? Let’s explore seven questions to consider when purchasing a small parcel shipping solution.


2021 Third-Party Logistics State of the Industry Report

1. What are my order volume and customer acquisition goals?

Brian Tracy once said, “A goal without a plan is only a dream.” Similarly, as a warehouse operations manager or executive, it is important to have tangible order volume and customer acquisition targets, as well as a business strategy, enabled by warehouse management system (WMS) software, to reach them.

If you plan on acquiring 25 new customers this year and expect a 50% increase in order volume, do you have the technology in place (e.g., shipping automation) to meet customer demand and not sacrifice service quality? Consider what you will need to automate to reach peak operational performance, whether by printing labels directly from the workstation, integrating with multiple carrier applications, or rapidly batch printing high volumes of labels.

2. What carrier integrations do I need?

This past week I spoke with a warehouse manager who had multiple carriers they needed to connect their WMS to: UPS, FedEx, and USPS. Managing individual carrier relationships can create information silos and can be painful to manage separately because 3PLs have to log in to several different applications to manually retrieve data and enter it into the warehouse management software.

3. What visibility can I have to order and inventory data?

With ecommerce orders often surging for top SKUs, having real-time visibility into inventory and order status offers a critical ingredient to satisfying customer needs. Once you receive an order, pack an order, or ship an order, it would be helpful to be able to filter inventory data by SKU, order reference number, or by customer. Certain small parcel shipping platforms like SmartParcel offer this capability. Also critical to high volume ecommerce operations is the ability to pass that real-time order and shipping information back to the end consumer for them to have visibility to order status.

4. How can my customers access their order data?

Complete visibility of inventory and orders can also give your customers peace of mind about the location and status of their ecommerce programs. Some warehouse management systems like 3PL Warehouse Manager offer self-service inventory and order status reports to your customers, automating the process and avoiding the tedious burden of having to respond to frequent requests from customers for information that you could automatically send or that they can easily access through a self-service customer portal.

5. Do you offer rate shopping?

Your customers want the fastest possible shipping at the lowest possible cost. Would it differentiate your 3PL warehouse to offer flexibility and cost savings to your customers? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could automatically pick the lowest carrier cost for a given shipment speed? This could save thousands of dollars every month. We recommend picking a small parcel shipping solution with rate shopping, or the capability to automatically select a printing label with the lowest cost.

6. How easy is the solution to use?

Many warehouses are experiencing higher strains on labor demand and employee turnover this year. The effort required to ramp up new employees and familiarize them with a 3PL’s operation can be greatly reduced if a warehouse has a small parcel shipping solution that is easy to use. Low technical learning curves can help warehouses operate more efficiently and train personnel faster.

7. What’s my overall return on investment?

If you can measure an operation’s effectiveness like small parcel shipping, you can improve it. There are several factors that a 3PL should measure to track the return on investment of your small parcel shipping solution. Three major areas to track are order accuracy, time savings, and cost reductions. If you could achieve 100% order accuracy, how would that impact your business and customer satisfaction? Second, saving time with tools like high-volume processing that empower warehouses to print up to 1,000 labels at a time could save time on packing small parcel shipments. Third, tools like rate shopping can be a technology differentiator for your firm, boosting customer acquisition and satisfaction by reducing carrier fees.

Putting it All Together: Building a World Class Ecommerce Fulfillment Operation

To build a world class ecommerce fulfillment operation, consider these 7 factors when choosing a small parcel shipping solution:

  1. Order Volume & Customer Acquisition Goals
  2. Carrier Integrations
  3. Customer Access to Data
  4. Inventory Visibility
  5. Rate Shopping
  6. Solution Ease of Use
  7. High Return On Investment

To learn more about 3PL Warehouse Manager’s small parcel shipping solution speak to an expert by clicking here.

-Written by Nathan Schlaffer

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