Mastering Fulfillment: How DTC eCommerce Brands Stay Ahead of the Game

by | Jul 17, 2023

NICE Commerce trusted 3PL

Does the eCommerce world ever feel like one big high-stakes poker game? The table is crowded, the stakes are high, and the rules keep changing. Brands are not just competing against each other, they’re grappling with shifting consumer behaviors, technology advancements that seem to spring up overnight, and an unpredictable global economy to boot. 

If you feel that way, you’re definitely not alone. Thanks to the ‘Amazon effect’ today’s consumers expect speed, convenience, and seamless shopping experiences. This expectation, coupled with the rise of mobile shopping and the demand for personalized experiences, has dramatically changed the eCommerce game. 

The Key to Success

Over the past decade, Nice Commerce has had the privilege of working with hundreds of eCommerce brands and got the inside scoop on what makes some more successful than others. While many brands chase growth through the usual suspects like influencer or affiliate marketing, SEO, content generation, and paid search, those that have achieved exponential growth share a common thread: a robust, dialed-in logistics and fulfillment strategy that focuses on the following aspects:

Data-Driven Decision Making

According to a report from Mckinsey & Company, brands that leverage customer behavior data to generate behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin. AKA: In the age of information, using data to inform business decisions is no longer optional – it’s a necessity. 

By meticulously tracking order and inventory data, brands can strategically pivot to move stale inventory, accurately forecast demand, plan reorders from manufacturers, and even gain insights into product bundling opportunities to maximize AOV. 

Order Automation

The power of automation in the eCommerce industry is truly transformative, particularly when it comes to fulfilling orders. 

Automation isn’t just about efficiency, though that’s certainly a critical advantage. It also allows for hyper-personalization of the customer experience.

Brands that recognize this are putting it to work in their fulfillment strategy. By setting up order automation through their warehouse management systems (WMS) they can set triggers to personalize the experience of first-time customers with a welcome insert, include a free gift in VIP orders, or even include a handwritten note to military personnel. By providing these hyper-personalized experiences, they are effectively growing their brand loyalty and trust tenfold.

Customer-Centric Shipping + Returns

In today’s competitive eCommerce landscape, offering speedy, transparent shipping and a hassle-free, clear-as-day returns policy isn’t just a nice-to-have. As per a report by Narvar, 53% of US online shoppers won’t purchase a product if they don’t know when it will arrive. Moreover, Baymard Institute found that 49% of shoppers abandoned carts due to unsatisfactory return policies.

To truly delight customers, high-growth brands are revamping their checkout functions to include transparent prices and allow customers to make shipping decisions that fit their needs.

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Furthermore, more high-growth brands know that with every return, there comes an opportunity to reengage and build trust. So they’re investing in automated return platforms like Loop or Returnly to provide a seamless self-service return experience that keeps customers back. 

The Role of a Trusted 3PL Partner

One of the most effective ways for brands to get a grip on fulfillment expectations is by partnering with a trusted third-party logistics (3PL) provider.

A reliable 3PL partner offers:

  • Onsite Expertise: Years of experience in the industry and real, live humans in the warehouse with your products. A 3PL partner can provide valuable insights and advice to help optimize your fulfillment strategy.
  • Scalability: As your business grows, you’ll need a 3PL equipped to easily scale operations with you that meet your increased demand. An experienced partner can help you navigate retailer and marketplace compliance and help you break into international markets
  • Technology: Advanced 3PLs leverage the latest technology, including 100% scan-based inventory movement, lot tracking, order automation, and data insights, to ensure efficient and accurate order fulfillment.

In the world of eCommerce, really great fulfillment can be the difference between being a market leader and being left behind. As brands adapt to shifting consumer expectations and emerging trends, a robust fulfillment strategy, underpinned by a trusted 3PL partner, will be a crucial component of their success.

 

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Meghan Proctor
Meghan Proctor manages marketing for NICE Commerce. A leading 3PL from Charleston, South Carolina, focused on DTC eCommerce brands.

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