Creating Differentiation Through Innovative E-Commerce
3PL, E-commerce, FulfillmentWhen shippers work with a 3PL that is consistently investing in technology and new distribution centers, they can increase service consistency and offer customers unexpectedly fast fulfillment.Kraig Foreman, Vice President, Operations, DHL Supply Chain, 973-301-8434For many consumer brands and retailers, simply meeting baseline expectations can represent a missed opportunity. By surprising and delighting customers through an exceptional delivery experience, they can differentiate themselves and build loyalty.Accomplishing this experience requires a fulfillment operation capable of exceptional speed and agility while tailoring packaging to the brand image.Exceptional SpeedRetailers and consumer brands have been playing a game of catch-up when it comes to fulfillment speed, continually chasing customer expectations.Compressing delivery times stresses warehouse processes and increases transportation costs and complexity. This is particularly true for midsize retailers and consumer brands who are serving B2B, retail, and D2C channels from the same centralized distribution center. They don't have the luxury of dedicated e-commerce systems and processes that enable them to consistently meet the delivery times customers now expect. Fortunately, there's a way off this treadmill. The "secret sauce" for achieving next-day or same-day delivery is ensuring products are positioned close to the customer at the time the order is placed through a distribution network with nodes in major metropolitan areas.This may seem cost-prohibitive for all but the largest players, and it is if retailers go at it alone. But when they work with a 3PL that is consistently investing in technology and new distribution centers, they can increase service consistency and offer their customers unexpectedly fast fulfillment.Unusual AgilityFew organizations have the in-house expertise and resources to support customer-centric events and launches. That puts unnecessary limitations on retail and brand creativity. Working with a 3PL ensures retailers and consumer brands have the flexible infrastructure, project management expertise, and scalable resources to support the launches and events at the heart of many loyalty programs.That agility should also extend to returns handling. Ensuring returns are hassle-free can increase sales while efficient returns processing reduces e-commerce costs.Brand-Building PackagingAnd whether your brand is based on luxury, sustainability, or economy, your packaging is either working to support your brand image or working against it.Customers of premium and luxury brands should "feel" the brand in the unboxing experience while brands that emphasize sustainability can erode their credibility with packaging that appears wasteful or is not recyclable.A 3PL can help you design a packaging solution that ensures your customers experience your brand in the desired way, and they can create that experience without inhibiting the efficiency of the fulfillment process.Brands that have been most successful at supporting new e-commerce and omnichannel services have been those that recognize the limitations of their in-house supply chain expertise, and partner with a 3PL that can deliver the scale, flexibility, and operational excellence required to support continuous innovation.For more information on DHL e-commerce fulfillment services, visit bit.ly/DHL_supplychain.
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