The plug-and-play fulfillment network that’s ready when you are
The year-on-year growth in eCommerce popularity is posing many problems for online retailers. Some of those problems are the best sort to have — lots of demand – while others can be more serious matters: not enough space to warehouse stock, too few employees to cope with the workload, and the old enemy, not enough hours in the day.
Once businesses start shipping a decent number of orders a month (say, 1,000 and upwards), there are hopefully certain pieces in the puzzle that begin to drop into place. For example, technology systems start to come into their own, with many processes undertaken seamlessly by software, including automated payment systems, messaging to customers regarding delivery times, and stock control, to name just a few examples.
However, there are still many challenges to overcome. How does an eCommerce retailer scale their business in a pandemic and post-pandemic world? How do these retailers keep up with the increased demand and shipping?
The economies of scale in fulfillment and logistics are a good start for self-fulfilling orders, however, they are nothing like the advantages that the large operators have access to. Large Third-Party Logistics providers (3PLs), also known as order fulfillment companies, have access to tools and services that smaller 3PLs or self-fulfillers do not. Fulfillment in eCommerce is very much a numbers game, and it’s difficult to find cost-effective and reliable service until the company can wield the type of muscle the household name retailers possess.
Nevertheless, there are services out there that already have the infrastructure and the partnerships that might take an independent decade to build. And while eCommerce companies could manually piece together an ad hoc distribution network across the US, and forge relationships with the big-name logistics and last-mile operators, doing so would be massively time-consuming, and going forward, difficult to manage. Even then, there would be no guarantee of reliability, consistency of customer experience, or cost.
Retailers looking for this type of service should be considering solutions like Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL). The company operates a network of fulfillment centers that literally (in technology terms) plug into your systems (via APIs — Rakuten Super Logistics will help your tech guys with this if needed).
RSL’s customers also plug into the company’s existing carrier network partnerships, which offer users the economies of scale of a big-name and regional carriers — something that would never have been on the table for a small or medium-sized business. As well as lower costs in general, it means retailers can start to offer expedited delivery services for the same kind of outlay that they may have obtained for a 3-day or 7-day service in the past.
Order turn-around times will also drop in line with savings on delivery times, and the instances of errors also fall away, thanks to the single point of management that the RSL service provides. When negotiating multiple dashboards (one for each distribution center and/or carrier), mistakes get made, especially if staff time is taken up with manually fulfilling orders, stuffing envelopes, even driving to the post office. The RSL software provides a single source-of-truth through which all distribution and fulfillment events are managed.
The overall ease of use translates for many RSL users as extra time — time to plan for special events like sales, Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, and so on. When those events happen, and order numbers go through the roof, the Rakuten Super Logistics service scales: you use more of the service, as required. After the festival days or sale period ends, you use less. It’s really that simple.
Similarly, as the business grows, the Rakuten Super Logistics services scale up, too, ensuring your carefully crafted brand and customer experience continue to be upheld with the best possible standards.
In a future article here on Tech HQ, we’ll be looking in more depth at the new Xparcel Ground and Xparcel Expedited services from Rakuten Super Logistics and also showcase a fantastic case study from a long-term user of the service. Until then, why not request a quote from the company that’s tailored to your fulfillment numbers?
Rakuten is a household name in Asia (it’s Japan’s version of Amazon), and its global network of distribution and logistics (RSL) is available for domestic US fulfillment and delivery. With 15 nationwide distribution & fulfillment centers, and a 100% order turn-around by next business day guarantee, this is big-name logistics for the soon-to-be-big-name eCommerce retailer.