Fulfillment Emerges as a Competitive Differentiator

Today’s retail and e-commerce order fulfillment has to be oriented toward free, fast, sustainable, and branded shipping. 64% of consumers worldwide prefer their orders be shipped for free. 67% of US consumers expect fast delivery while 72% of global consumers want brands to use sustainable packaging. With the rising cost of fulfilling orders, brands must ensure that this fulfillment is well-planned and sourced closer to the consumer, and has a touch of automation for speed and accuracy.

In the US, the UK, China, Germany, France, and Japan, free shipping has been proven to be a significant factor when it comes to consumers’ purchasing decisions—particularly whether they complete the purchase from a brand or not. To address consumer demand without hurting their profit, brands are now making use of free-shipping thresholds. 65% of consumers check free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their carts. Additionally, 39% of US shoppers expect free, two-day shipping. The same-day shipping market in the US is forecasted to exceed $9.6 billion in 2022.

Today’s shopper wants shipping to not only be fast and free, but also environmentally conscious. Consumers are more likely to buy a product that is packaged sustainably. There is an increasing focus on zero-waste packaging, where all the materials used to package a product can be reused or recycled. Minimalist packaging, reduced package sizes, and redesigned shipping cases are also high priorities.

This global trend is strongest in developing and rapidly developing markets, led by China, where 67% of respondents say they would be more likely to purchase products or services from a company with a good reputation for environmental responsibility [1].

Improving Fulfillment Capabilities in 2021

This year, improving fulfillment capabilities involves cutting the potential costs and providing consumers with fast, free, sustainable, and branded shipping.

  1. Automate inventory management. Warehouse AI robotics is invested heavily to improve businesses’ supply chain management. The warehouse robotics market was valued at  $2.28 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% by 2022. 

    One notable example is retail giant Amazon, which acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 and eventually changed its name to Amazon Robotics in 2015. Today, Amazon has 200,000 robots working in their warehouses. In 26 of Amazon’s 175 fulfillment centers, robots assist humans with picking, sorting, transporting, and stowing packages. These are actual robots moving around the factory scanning items. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) can move throughout the warehouse because they create their own routes based on the operation needed. They also reroute when necessary and avoid obstacles in their environment [3].
  2. Outsource your fulfillment operations. Outsourced order fulfillment is when shipping, storing, and order/refund processing is handled by a third-party logistics (3PL) or an order fulfillment company. Brands facing challenges of storage space or personnel may go in this direction, as their inventory can be stored in a warehouse controlled by the 3PL. In this case, the 3PL’s staff handle the entire fulfillment process from end to end, from receiving inventory from manufacturers to delivering orders to the end customer [4].

    A fulfillment partner should be able to:
  • Recommend which inventory should be stored in which warehouse, so that customers are served by the warehouse closest to them
  • Fulfill orders with branded packaging that turns the unboxing experience into an engaging retention tactic. For instance, YouTube unboxing helps your brand tell its story. There’s this brilliant opportunity to express yourself. Unboxing is about much more than making your products look good; it’s about crafting your brand’s narrative.
  • Offer late cutoff times that allow you to ship more same-day orders
  1. Streamline the return process. Brands are finding new ways to keep customers’ journey throughout the entire purchase cycle in mind. Implementing cost-effective and customer-centric shipping practices, and providing flexibility and assurance over returns are helping brands unlock new markets, increase conversion, and build customer loyalty and repeat purchases. Brands like Allbirds, Jolyn, and Chubbies use many technologies to grow their audience, boost shopper experience, increase conversion, and nurture loyal repeat buyers. For instance, Returnly, as one of the leading providers of digital return experiences for direct-to-consumer brands within Shopify merchants, allows credit and exchange experience to let their customers get the right item before returning the wrong one. Returnly pays for the replacement items on behalf of the shopper and takes the fraud and return risk so orders are shipped right away. The result is a world-class shopping experience with the highest customer satisfaction score (CSAT) of 91% in the industry [5].

How TaskUs Brings Forth Unparalleled CX Support 

As machine learning, AI, and automation impact the e-commerce world, TaskUs’ adoption of this technology should not be confused with the replacement of human jobs. Our digital focus is about augmenting human skill sets and using the technology to enhance our day-to-day work.

An increased focus on the order fulfillment process will also create a demand for skilled customer support personnel, capable of responding to any customer issue on any channel with empathy and proactive problem-solving. The authentic human conversation is still paramount to the customer experience, and at TaskUs, it stems from the culture we advance as a people-first organization. But although people are in no danger of being replaced by machines, it does not change the fact that automation, machine learning, and robotics can complement our human skill sets, and open up avenues for scalability, speed, and exponential growth [6].

To learn more about current retail and e-commerce trends, and how TaskUs solutions can help companies in this space, visit Us here.


References:

  1. Consumers gravitate to brands offering fast, free, and sustainable shipping.
  2. eCommerce Fulfillment: The Unappreciated Yet Vital Strategy Brands Use to Win Loyal Customers
  3. 15 AI Applications/ Use Cases / Examples in Logistics in 2021
  4. What is order fulfillment?
  5. Increase Conversion, AOV, and Repeat Purchase with Shipping and Returns Apps
  6. SalesTechStar Interview with Jarrod Johnson, Chief Customer Officer at TaskUs