As more consumers shop online, retailers and their suppliers face a seismic shift in their logistics strategy, adding omnichannel fulfillment to their mix and delivering from an endless aisle to the last mile. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of B2C fulfillment and retailers of all sizes are having to quickly adapt or perish.

According to the “Peak 2020: Meet the New Consumer” report from parcelLab, 70 percent of people state that they will not decrease their spending this peak season. More so, 85 percent of retailers believe that online sales will increase this holiday season compared to 2019. Even traditional brick-and-mortar retail products are flying off of virtual shelves. PepsiCo recently said that eCommerce sales have almost doubled since July.

Shifting retail shipping landscape

That’s not expected to change long-term as an Accenture report showed that more than 50 percent of global eCommerce purchases will be delivered from local inventory by 2023—possibly reaching 70 percent by 2025.

Having inventory closer to consumers will be critical for retailers to keep costs down and customer satisfaction high.

It is more important than ever for retailers to rethink how they sell online, and how they get items into the hands of this growing customer base without taking a toll on profit margins. Yet, according to DC Velocity, a GlobalTranz survey in September that polled 150 supply chain professionals showed that:

  • 41% reported they weren’t prepared to transform retail stores into fulfillment hubs in major markets.
  • 35% said they didn’t feel they had an omnichannel strategy to adjust to consumer buying behavior.
  • 34% said they didn’t feel they had established the necessary partnerships to handle supply chain demand.

The 3PL sector is well-positioned to take on some of the business from retail, with U.S. 3PL eCommerce revenues forecast to rise 28% through 2020 as companies continue to outsource their logistics activities to keep pace with online shopping.

This means they, too, need to up their omnichannel shipping game as they go from managing a more traditional B2B shipping model to a D2C model with smaller, more frequent shipments.

Omnichannel shipping best practices

For those retailers that are finding themselves having to change course and adopt an omnichannel shipping strategy quickly, there are some best practices that they need to keep in mind to make the transition as seamless as possible.

  • Choose the right omnichannel fulfillment strategy. There are plenty of options to choose from — ship-from-store, buy online pick-up in-store, ship-from-3PL, ship-from-partner, drop-ship from a manufacturer, etc. — retailers must select the one or two omnichannel shipping models that best meet their business needs and customer demands.
  • Mult-shipper management. A multi-carrier shipping system platform with multi-shipper management capabilities offers retail solution providers more complete control over end-to-end multi-carrier shipping system deployment, configuration, and support. This is vital as 3PLs move from traditional freight logistics to individual parcel and last-mile shipments.
  • Break down silos. Operational and departmental silos are among the biggest obstacles to an effective omnichannel fulfillment operation. Retailers need to enable integration and collaboration whenever possible to keep omnichannel fulfillment efficient and profitable.
  • Improve inventory management. With more inventory held and shipped from more locations, it is easy to lose track of what’s available—and where. Maintain detailed inventory records, develop a parts entry protocol, automate essential workflows, and utilize systems that increase inventory visibility throughout the supply chain to ensure that products are in the right place at the right time to avoid stock-outs and disappointed customers.
  • Invest in technology. The right logistics technology can take a complicated strategy and make it easier to manage. A misstep along the way in inventory management, sortation, picking and packing, shipping management, product replenishment, and more can eliminate the benefits of taking on an omnichannel strategy.

As fulfillment continues to evolve and retailers quickly add emerging omnichannel strategies such as curbside pick-up, warehouse-in-a-warehouse, and more to keep up with the online shopping boom and consumers’ demands for fast and free delivery, retailers must incorporate as many best practices as possible to make sure the strategy is one that works best for their business.

Learn how Transtream multi-carrier parcel management solution can help manage even the most complex omnichannel shipping strategy by scheduling a personalized demonstration with one of our shipping experts.