As we have reached the holiday season, I wanted to take a look at the omni-channel distribution strategy of ecommerce companies. Retailers and manufacturers will max out the number of channels they can sell through during the holiday season. Consumers will look to buy goods online, in-store, through other sales channels or online with in-store pickup. According to Forrester, 71% of consumers expect to be able to view in-store availability online while 50% expect to buy online and pick up in-store.
Convenience and flexibility are what the consumers want. As a 3PL, we have to adopt these same traits to handle the holiday season for our customers. Here are four tips for 3PLs on how to handle omni-channel distribution efficiently:
1. Co-locate inventory for B2B and B2C.
With all replenishment and picks being handled in the same area, you are able to control order fulfillment costs for labor and inventory levels.
2. Maintain all channels on same system and provide visibility.
As a 3PL, we cannot control this. So, this is more of a recommendation to our customers. This makes life simple for all of us! It provides us with one area of inventory to monitor rather than pulling from multiple facilities.
3. Be able to scale.
Volumes will increase for the holiday season. Make sure you understand the needs of your customers. Our team has addressed these pre-holiday planning sessions in previous blogs. As a 3PL, you want to grow with your customer and not hinder their growth because you cannot handle the spikes in holiday or peak volume.
4. BE FLEXIBLE.
This is probably the most important tip. The holidays can be a time of chaos for some shoppers with last second requests and orders. As a 3PL, you need to be flexible with these requests and promotions to make sure that your operations run efficiently and consumers are receiving their products on time.
If you are looking for a 3PL that is able to handle an omni-channel distribution, make sure the 3PL can show you how they do it today. It is complex and requires expertise. You want to make sure they will not be shocked when the first big spike in volumes comes through. Most ecommerce retailers process 40% or more of their volume during the 4th quarter.
It is important that the 3PL and the retailer are on the same page as we enter this holiday season. For more information on how IDS can help with omni-channel distribution and our holiday solutions, Contact Us today!