Let’s be honest about the fact that 2017 has been a pretty good year for e-commerce fulfillment. While businesses were pleasantly surprised by the innovation and speed of technological implementations, several startups benefited from these changes. However, it would only be appropriate to take a look at 2018 and what expectations the entire supply chain industry can have from the same. The current year started on a few positive notes and it wouldn’t be wrong to be optimistic regarding the upcoming trends. Moreover, we should take a note of the fact that ecommerce fulfillment trends do not change every year but extrapolate with each passing day. This means, it wouldn’t be advisable to look only at 2018 but to concentrate on a more expansive analysis.
Looking at the E-Commerce Challenges
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that trends also signify the lingering challenges associated with ecommerce fulfillment. Majority of these challenges are inventory and warehouse specific loopholes, ably assisted by a host of other micro effects. Ecommerce fulfillment, therefore, specifically focuses on the aspects of shipping and product deliveries while offering the best possible combinations to the customers.
2018 will see a Change in how Fulfillment is perceived
Ecommerce fulfillment has already started spreading out in multiple directions. The Omnichannel visibility combines the likes of drop shipping, warehousing and other necessary avenues. In addition to that, majority of fulfillment service providers are pairing up with 3PL companies for creating an elite network of clients. What sounds optimistic is that fulfillment partners are increasingly establishing accountability for every supply chain metric. Be it covering the shipping damages, packaging essentials or the last mile considerations; fulfillment partners in 2018 are concentrating on the holistic aspects of supply chain management.
Shipping Costs to Rise
Those who are expecting the shipping costs to cap out are certainly in for a disappointment. While fulfillment service providers will start looking into the basics of retailing and packaging, the shipping costs in 2018 are expected to shoot up. The customer satisfaction levels, therefore, won’t be compromised on.
Warehouses will keep getting Makeovers
Although the sky high prices won’t cease from existing, the concerned warehouses will start getting makeovers they deserve. Majority of fulfillment partners and retailers will start readdressing their warehouses in 2018 for necessary improvements. The emphasis will therefore be on eliminating the inadequacies and identifying the key areas for improving the existing frameworks. Moreover, it’s only fitting that fulfillment centers keep checking the size and spread of the warehouses for accommodating bulky materials.
Better Branding and Customer Experiences
Getting up close and personal with a brand will be easier in 2018 as fulfillment partners will do majority of the work. With online shoppers getting a cohesive platform for comparing prices, delivery rates and discount codes— customers will be getting all the advantages. Brands will start paying heed to customer sentiments and the shipping strategies will be way more user-friendly as compared to the existing ones. The best thing which fulfillment partners are expected to achieve in 2018 is higher degrees of personalization. This concept will include better at-home deliveries and even higher levels of packaging.
Intensified Labor Pressure
This variable is likely to get squeezed between other fulfillment metrics. While the requirements are amplifying at an alarming rate, there is definitely a lack of skilled labor. Although companies are setting up warehouses with scalable automation at the fore, the pressure for procuring skilled labor is intensifying with each passing day.
Better Delivery Options
While shipping and packaging are some of the important facets leading towards product fulfillment, it’s actually the delivery options that determine the efficacy of the last mile solutions. In 2018, fulfillment partners will start focusing more rural deliveries and innovations concerning in-home deliveries. Newer techniques for delivering products will start showing up in 2018 with the focus being on customer satisfaction and readiness. While the concept of nominated deliveries is fast catching up, it needs to improve further in order to make some more sense. Majority of retailers with dedicated fulfillment services are slowly but steadily concentrating on delayed shipping options for allowing the customer to save money.
E-commerce fulfillment solutions will keep evolving with time. However, 2018 is only a stepping stone for the service providers to achieve fulfillment perfection. Customers must understand that prices might go up in certain cases but the overall satisfaction levels will keep improving.