Irrespective of how close your fulfillment center is to your customer, logistics is a long process. Especially in retail, where the goods are directly delivered to the customers, the supply chain process is not that simple as it looks on the outside, from shipping inventory to the warehouse, packing the product, and delivering to the customer.
Say you own a tropical fruit farm in Hawaii and ship fresh fruits to different vendors across the US. The retail logistics team will handle everything from freight, warehousing, and ensuring the fruits remain fresh even during the delivery.
From handling multiple channels and online and in-store purchases to maintaining warehouse strategies and bulk store deliveries, retail logistics is a complex and crucial process in supply chain management. The common steps in retail logistics include:
- Warehouse receiving
- Inventory management
- Order fulfillment
Consumers are learning to live with COVID and redefining their purchasing habits. Globally, we see a significant shift happening in the sector of online shopping and home deliveries. The focus has shifted from brand loyalty to lower shipping costs, faster deliveries, and a smooth shopping experience. As more and more organizations adopt the digital transformation, you need to step up your retail logistics game to attract and retain more customers.
Do Holidays Directly Affect Logistics?
Holidays are a joyful time for people across the globe, but for people who work in retail logistics and supply chain management, it’s a balancing game. On one side, you have your holiday traditions, get-togethers, and celebrations, and on the other hand, you need to help thousands of customers and your organization in having a seamless shopping experience.
Most businesses see a heavy surge in sales during the holiday seasons, and whether in-store or online, these sales do not happen quickly. Organizations and the logistics teams have to be proactive in ensuring the products are correctly packed and shipped to the fulfillment centers at the right time and with minimal to no damage. In the US alone, millions of packages are delivered just between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Customers are surprised and satisfied with on-time deliveries of their purchases, but the long and hectic supply chain processing often goes unnoticed. Let’s take a look at the functions of retail supply chain management.
Retail Supply Chain Management Functions
Increase Product Variety in Stores
Most people prefer to go to a centralized location for their purchasing needs, especially during the holidays. It’s essential to have proper supply chain strategies to procure the merchandise on time, enough to meet the rising demands. Having a lack of supply and delay in delivering the products to the customers can result in your customers relying on your competitors.
Have Strategic Stocking Points
The only way to minimize the time between order placement and delivery is to have stocking points or inventory processing centers in strategic locations. These centers will help you make sure the products received in the fulfillment centers match the order and reduce possible damages and returns.
Track and Match the Products
Shipping errors, damages, and returns can result in the shipping costs going up significantly. You can efficiently execute the order fulfillment strategies by properly tracking received, dispatched, and in-transit items. You can manage the inventory better when you have multiple fulfillment centers in locations close to the customers.
Optimize Order Fulfillment
From order fulfillment to end customer delivery, there are a lot of stages involved, which means there are a lot of chances for blind spots too. You need to have efficient logistics software to maintain an organized and synchronized order fulfillment strategy.
Manage Shipping and Returns
One of the highest costs that e-commerce businesses incur is for shipping. Having multiple warehouses close to your customers can help in reducing the shipping costs and ensure faster delivery. This will also help in reducing shipping costs on returns and damages too. Partnering with a 3PL logistics partner can help you minimize bulk shipping rates and ensure a seamless shipping experience.
Tips for Improving Retail Logistics During the Holidays
During holidays, you can face labor shortages, delayed shipping times, and increased demand for products. To survive this situation efficient and hassle-free manner, you need to have the right resources and logistics partners. Here are a few tips to help you get through the holiday season.
- Better Inventory Management: Irrespective of the size of your e-Commerce business, it’s essential to stock up to meet customer demands.
- Entice Customers to Shop Early: Holiday shopping rush can be crazy both for businesses and customers. Through email campaigns, holiday discounts, and special offers, it’s better to encourage the customers to purchase early. This way, you can manage the rising demand and ensure faster and error-free delivery.
- Partnering with 3PL Fulfillment Centers: Getting through the holiday season needs extra resources and planning. If you have a 3PL fulfillment partner, you can ensure the influx in demand can be taken care of without delay. This will also give the workers enough time to get trained in processes and systems.
- Shift to Digital Logistics Systems: With the help of Data Analytics, Machine learning, and AI, you can maintain an efficient supply chain management that will ensure multichannel logistics and complete visibility of your supply chain.
With the shift to online shopping, companies have taken a major hit on the pricing too. How do you create a great customer experience and increase your ROI without reducing your price? The answer is to partner with a 3PL warehousing facility to help with international and domestic retail logistics and supply chain management.
Whether you are looking for online or in-store order fulfillment services, ShipBots has multiple fulfillment centers that each ensure seamless picking and packing, shipping, and fast delivery. Our integrated technology and analytics software solutions help you keep track of your inventory in the most efficient way. Get in touch with us today to learn more.