New Horizons: More Fulfillment Methods are on the Way

As technology and customer expectations continue to change, new fulfillment methods will continue to rise. Make sure your supply chain is ready to handle these inevitable changes.

Our world is continuously being shaped by new technology. This is especially true in e-commerce. It is hard to believe that Amazon is only a 27-year-old company that started by only selling books online, especially when you realize the global impact the giant online retailer has had. Today, you can buy just about anything over the internet. There are also multiple ways you can have it delivered. Even traditional retailers offer a host of ways to receive the products you purchase online.

Tech Trends Affect Customer Expectations

The trend is pretty clear—technology is continuously reshaping the customer experience. Each time a new way to shop and interact with online stores becomes prevalent in the market, customer expectations adapt accordingly. This is particularly evident in recent months as COVID-19 forced retailers and other businesses to accelerate online and e-commerce strategies overnight. Today we have delivery methods like BOPIS, BOPAC, ship to store, ship to home, and ship to locker.

Before the pandemic, several retailers were experimenting with buy-online pickup in store (BOPIS) methods and strategies. According to ACI Worldwide, retailers who already had BOPIS in place before the pandemic saw a 70 percent increase in transactions by volume and a 58 percent increase by value in 2020. Buy online pickup at curb (BOPAC) and other curbside delivery methods also exploded throughout 2020. It might seem like retailers have exhausted the possibilities of another fulfillment method, but it’s more likely new methods are just around the corner.

The Future of E-Commerce Fulfillment and What it Means for You

Time will tell if these new fulfillment methods are here to stay. In all likelihood, at least some of them will stick, especially throughout 2021, and they will become further refined as time goes on. For example, shoppers have become accustomed to the convenience of BOPAC. After concerns of a pandemic subside, shoppers will still want this fulfillment method offered. A recent article by CNBC reported that commercial warehouse space has become a hot commodity. This is due to so many businesses searching for new distribution centers and warehouse space in order to keep up with demand in e-commerce channels. Even if the demand for digital shopping trails off, it won’t exactly mean businesses will stop exploring new and better ways to meet customer expectations.

In the not too distant future, we’ll likely see an entirely new wave of order fulfillment. Specifically, robotics and other autonomous machines may be used to help meet same-day delivery expectations. Some businesses have already begun piloting such technology. Walmart and Dominos are both currently piloting self-driving vehicles to help with deliveries.

Every e-commerce business must be able to account for new fulfillment methods that might not exist today. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in technology that can aid in your supply chain decision-making. More specifically, e-commerce merchants should be on the lookout for supply chain solutions that are agile enough to help you pivot in a short time frame. The foundation of an agile supply chain starts with a strong demand planning solution that can help find true demand across every channel for every product. Demand planning technology built on machine learning algorithms can account for new fulfillment locations without interruption to your operations.

From Anywhere, to Anywhere

E-commerce businesses are facing many supply chain challenges today. Regardless of the delivery method, they are expected to get their products into consumers’ hands quickly and at the location of the customers’ choosing. This requires a resilient supply chain that can adapt quickly to changes in the environment. 4R Systems has a full suite of solutions that can help you meet the challenges of today and the future. If you need help improving your eCom supply chain, contact us today.