3PLs, retailers, and manufacturers engaged in e-commerce fulfillment face high customer delivery expectations, continuing labor shortages, uncertain carrier capacity, and rising warehousing and shipping costs – making it difficult to meet delivery promises while preserving margins, particularly as the e-commerce market continues to grow despite inflation and recession fears.

Expanding fulfillment throughput by adding more resources, expanding warehouse space, changing processes and workflows, and increasing hardware and software horsepower takes time and leaves shippers exposed to excessive costs during market downturns.

In this atmosphere of uncertain growth, it is critical for shippers to implement scalable and adaptable processes and systems, maximize space and resources, and increase productivity and flexibility to delight their stakeholders and customers.

Predictably and Profitably Achieve the “Perfect Order”

A Final-Mile Maturity Model can help companies assess their logistics capabilities and guide them through achieving higher levels of efficiency, integration, and customer satisfaction. It will help to consistently achieve the “perfect order” – the right product from the right place at the right time with the right packaging and carrier service for the right delivery experience. For more on Pierbridge’s maturity model, check out "How a final-mile maturity model can improve delivery performance."

If your fulfillment operation can’t keep up with demand surges without adding labor and space or turn to overtime and temp workers, you are likely at the second stage, Anticipate & Standardize, and looking to achieve better integration and realize greater efficiencies. If you are outgrowing siloed functional systems with discrepancies in data, a high costs of technology ownership, and slow time to benefit, you are likely at the third stage, Connect & Automate, and looking to perfect within the walls of your organization.

Roadmap to Improve Core Shipping Functions

Quote: Initially you need to provide resources with the ability to select the lowest-cost carrier that meets delivery speed needs. Next is to automate this selection through business rules, followed by providing real-time shipping quotes when the order is made.

Pack: Broadening package selection is followed by system driven package selection. The next evolution is to pack while picking with “cartonized” packing instructions that limit waster, “air”, and DIM fees.

Ship: Expanding to three to five carrier choices increases complexity as shipping decisions are made by fulfillment resources. Moving to multi-carrier parcel management allows organizations to further expand carrier choices to include regional and local carriers. It also opens the door for configurable routing and instructions that go beyond scripted business rules to put dynamic control in the hands of logistics managers.

Returns: Moving beyond customer service generated returns labels, you can generate return labels for each order, or look to generate return labels on demand.

As fulfillment matures through scalable, flexible processes and systems, accuracy is improved, and space and resources are maximized. Productivity increases and additional flexibility allows you for quicker adaption to market, business and operational threats, opportunities, and innovations while higher profitability enable continuous investment in and capitalization on evolutionary growth and improvement. If you would like to learn more about the final-mile maturity model watch the recent Pierbridge on-demand webinar, “How to Achieve Delivery Excellence Through the Final-Mile Maturity Model”.

Mike Graves is General Manager, Pierbridge, part of the WiseTech Global Group. Mike has 25 years of experience in leadership, technical sales, and solution architecture for logistics and supply chain software and technology. He leads the analysis, specifications, design, and development of Pierbridge’s Transtream enterprise parcel shipping software.