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The COVID-19 crisis is transforming the way brands look at their order fulfilment strategy.

Since the outbreak began, the world had to quickly adapt to living our lives online. Overnight, the digital world became more important than ever before and for all retail-centric brands ecommerce suddenly became their ‘everything’.

Brands that were already seeing success online, had to adapt quickly and find better ways to build an audience and increase conversations without being seen as ‘tone deaf’ to the global situation. Established bricks and mortar retail brands that had been slow to embrace digital, had to pivot quickly or risk going out of business.

Three months ago, the world was a very different place.

Ecommerce transactions grew in the UK by 168% in May compared to the same period last year. The sharp increase in online sales also saw the demand for ecommerce order fulfilment increase. At 3PL, we saw demand for our order fulfilment solutions increase by 248% compared to the same period last year.

What caused the surge in interest in outsourced order fulfilment?

There were two main reasons:

  1. Brand in sectors that saw huge demand like healthcare, wellbeing and essential goods needed to find a better way of coping with the increased demand and had no experience of coping in-house with fulfilling orders in such large volumes. They needed to find a partner that had experience and expertise in handling large volumes.
  2. Some retail sectors were hit hard. Luxury and clothing were hit the hardest, with more than £11.1 billion set to be wiped off fashion sales in 2020. Businesses were looking at where they could make the biggest savings and ease some of the pressure they were experiencing.

 The Pandemic Isn’t Over

Although governments are encouraging businesses to operate as normal and retailers are opening their shutters again, there is every chance that as winter as approaches, we could get a dreaded second wave. Until there is a vaccine, COVD-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.

Should a second wave happen then governments have warned they won’t hesitate in reintroducing lockdown measures.

What This Means for Your Business & What You Can Do About It

Time is already running out if you want to de-risk your order fulfilment strategy, you should already be considering how you would cope if a second wave arrives.

Double Down on Digital

 If you haven’t been shifting your focus to online already, then now is the time to put your time and energy into improving every part of your online experience. Improve your digital marketing funnels, website user experience, offer more convenient ways to pay with ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ partners like Klarna that can help to improve online checkout conversions by 30%

Put customers at the heart of everything you do

 If this crisis has taught us anything then now more than ever, we need each other. The brands that are seeing the most success throughout the pandemic are those brands that have been able to show empathy in the face of adversity and that they truly care about their customers.

Go the extra mile in providing a better customer experience and your customers will reward you with their loyalty.

 Are your operations set-up to cope with a surge in demand?

Not only would you have to cope with another increase in demand but add in the traditional ‘golden quarter’ sales peak due to Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas and this could be the biggest winter sales period in history.

Customers’ expectations will still need to be met and brand loyalty built, if your order fulfilment strategy still isn’t set-up to cope with demand and you don’t have a smooth returns management process then you could end up with some very disappointed customers.

Need to reduce operating costs?

When the outbreak first hit, we had to look at ways we could make our businesses operate in a leaner way.

Budgets were cut and in the worst situations, valued employees had to be let go. No one wants this to go through this again, outsourcing to a third-party specialist will help you to streamline operations, reduce costs and give you the ability to provide a better end-to-end customer experience.

If you know how to work out you’re cost per order and have a clear idea on how much profit you need to make on each order, a specialist product fulfilment company will help you to drive those costs down further and improve your bottom line.

Conclusion

By now, you know how important digital is to the future of your business but don’t neglect the only physical interaction a customer is ever likely to have with your business…receiving your product.

If you want to build brand loyalty, create a world-class customer experience and come out of the other side of the COVID-19 outbreak stronger then you need to review your fulfilment strategy now.

Don’t get caught out by a second wave, peak season is coming, and your brand needs to be prepared for any situation to ensure business continuity in a crisis.

 

P.S, do you need help successfully managing your order fulfilment process? Why not contact 3PL for a chat about how third party logistics can help you to streamline your operations.

Find more eCommerce business advice on the 3PL blog

How to Work Out Cost Per Order For Your eCommerce Store | Free Shipping: Should Your eCommerce Store Offer it? | The Key Advantages of Using a Third-Party Logistics Provider

Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is Marketing Manager at 3PL. He researches and writes everything you need to know about eCommerce fulfilment and logistics.