Last updated: 5/22/2024

What's Trending in E-Commerce Fulfillment?

What's Trending in E-Commerce Fulfillment?

So it’s not all doom and gloom with challenging fee increases on e-commerce platforms and wobbly economies.

E-commerce continues to transform the retail landscape, with an estimated 20.8% of retail purchases occurring online in 2023. 

As we look ahead, global e-commerce sales are projected to grow by 9.4%, reaching $6.33 trillion in 2024. 

This impressive growth isn't without its challenges though, such as rapid technology adaptation, labor recruitment, and capacity utilization challenges. 

Here are the key trends shaping e-commerce fulfillment in 2024:

Increased Digitization

The digitization of supply chains and order fulfillment processes will be a dominant trend in the coming year. 

Digital transformation is no longer just an option for industry leaders; it's essential for staying competitive. 

Companies are increasingly implementing digital solutions like warehouse management systems (WMS) to enhance inventory management, drive fulfillment processes, optimize warehouse operations, and provide greater visibility throughout the supply chain.

More Automation Solutions

Automation is becoming a critical component of the order fulfillment process. 

While only a few companies are moving towards fully automated (dark) warehouses, many are adopting various automation solutions to address labor shortages and boost efficiency. 

Robotics, RFID tags, pick-to-light systems, and mobile carts are being used to streamline picking and packing operations, reduce errors, and improve overall productivity.

Better Warehouse Layouts

Optimizing warehouse space is a growing trend, regardless of warehouse size. Businesses are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) tools to create better layouts and processes, enhancing safety, productivity, and sustainability. 

AI-driven warehouse optimization can help identify risks and capitalize on opportunities for improvement, ensuring that every square foot is used efficiently.

Real-Time Information Availability

One of the hard lessons from recent years is the importance of real-time data in preventing supply chain disruptions. 

In 2024, businesses will place a greater emphasis on accessing real-time data throughout the order fulfillment process. 

Using RFID tags, mobile carts, and WMS, stakeholders can gain instant access to crucial information. 

Moreover, supply chain partners are increasingly sharing this data to enhance visibility and reduce the risk of costly disruptions.

Explosive Growth in Social Commerce

Social media platforms are becoming essential sales channels for e-commerce businesses. 

More products are being sold directly on platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Social media commerce is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026. 

These platforms offer behavior-based targeting and highly engaged audiences—TikTok users, for instance, spend an average of 95 minutes per day on the app. 

Social stores provide a unique opportunity for businesses to extend their reach and grow their customer base with minimal capital investment.

Partnering with a 3PL, such as MCF, can help manage the surge in orders from social media platforms. 

3PLs can fulfill orders across multiple social media sites, scale to support viral product demands, and meet delivery requirements, ensuring timely deliveries. 

Integration options provided by 3PLs simplify expanding onto social media stores, allowing merchants to set up a store, integrate with a fulfillment partner, and start selling seamlessly.

Automated Multi-Channel Order Fulfillment

In 2024, automation in order fulfillment will be a major focus for e-commerce businesses. 

As merchants expand across multiple sales channels—like brand websites, e-commerce stores, and social media stores and with Amazon making it easier for MCF —operational challenges can become overwhelming. 

Managing a multi-channel business is complex, but integrations can help simplify.

Integration options, from e-commerce solution providers to inventory and order management solutions, can reduce the time and effort required for order fulfillment. Innovations in integration technology are increasing the number of channel connections, reducing onboarding steps, and expanding business functions. 

By integrating sales channels with back-end systems and automatically sending orders to 3PL providers for fulfillment, businesses can stay on top of inventory management and offer faster fulfillment. 

Changes in shopping behavior during the pandemic had retailers discover that consumers like choices in how their orders are fulfilled. 

This has given rise to the massive growth of omnichannel fulfillment. Expect to see even more businesses offering options like Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) and reserve online, pick up in-store (ROPIS).

Optimizing DTC Websites

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling is on the rise, with 64% of consumers regularly making DTC purchases. 

Brands aim to meet customers where they shop most, leading to the emergence of new DTC websites alongside the over 7 million existing e-commerce websites worldwide. 

With increasing competition and new features like ‘buy online, pick up in store,’ optimizing the customer journey on DTC websites is crucial.

A smooth shopping experience from checkout to delivery boosts brand loyalty and customer retention, which are vital for e-commerce success. 

Does your supply chain need more digitization, optimization, improved efficiencies and transparency? 

Get Your FREE Logistics Audit HERE.

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