The significant shift in customer preference to shop online has prompted brands and businesses to turn to third-party logistics (3PL) and fulfillment service providers to get products to customers fast. These fulfillment companies now take on the role of providing crucial support to the burgeoning eCommerce industry. Here are some trends observed impacting the fulfillment landscape in 2018 and beyond:


  1. Multi-channel sales. As businesses utilise more eCommerce and online platforms to sell their goods, they would rely largely on 3PLs and fulfillment companies to manage multiple channel fulfillment operations. This need has been promptly addressed by providers that now offer multichannel and multiplatform technology that integrates with various sales channels as well as with third-party applications such as CRM and ERP.


  1. Mobile orders. According to a recent Google report, 34% of online retail purchases happened on mobile devices. It is predicted that this year purchases via mobile will drive half of all eCommerce revenues, further fuelling the need for efficient order fulfillment services.


  1. Product bundles. More online sellers are using product bundling to increase revenue and push the sales of slow-moving inventory. Many third-party order fulfillment providers now offer bundling of multiple products into a single online order whether they are product packs assembled on demand or pre-assembled kits.


  1. Subscription box services. The popularity of subscription boxes, which allows for customisation and personalisation of orders and packaging, has risen over the years. Competition among subscription box services will translate to a parallel need for fulfillment service providers.


  1. Automation. The growth in eCommerce has led fulfillment companies to implement smart fulfillment technologies that are scalable and can optimise warehouse and logistical operations.


  1. Fast delivery. The faster the better is an unwritten motto of the fulfillment industry. As the pace of online sales competition increases, do does the race for speedy delivery among fulfillment services.


  1. Rising shipping rates. The cost of shipping is increasing every year by an average of 5%. This has remained a challenge for online sellers who have turned to fulfillment services that can analyse data and source more cost-effective shipping methods.