You Can Eliminate the Omni-Channel Shipping Gap with Mobile Technology ~
by Paula Heikell
There is a quiet transformation taking place in logistics operations as e-commerce continues to change the way businesses are reaching their customers. Once considered a consumer-focused channel, many business-to-business companies have witnessed its potential for driving revenue and are now avid adopters.
The numbers are hard to ignore. Industrial supplies giant W.W. Grainger, for example, sold $4.09 billion or 41% of its total revenues online in 2015, a 13.6% increase from e-commerce sales in 2014.¹ John Deere has announced an e-commerce strategy and expects to drive $500 million in revenue within a few years.² EliteFixtures.com, a distributor of lighting fixtures and plumbing supplies, reported that it received 70,000 unique visitors in a typical month and online sales have been growing 50% a year since 2012.³
If You Build It, They Will Come
That’s the good news. But a rapid growth in e-commerce sales can be a blessing and a curse, particularly for companies facing new consumer orders and new delivery preferences. If you’re like Elite Fixtures, that could mean the addition of thousands of new customers whose delivery preferences need to be addressed.
As one furniture manufacturer noted, “Before we launched our online store, our orders were largely LTL and truckload shipments to regional distribution centers for our retail customers. Now our web-based orders, which are small parcel deliveries, are outstripping our traditional orders. We’re dealing with a different kind of fulfillment that is adding to our labor and shipping costs.”
Many companies are now finding themselves in an omni-channel distribution world that is still changing as buyers’ preferences continue to evolve. For example, dealing with “free delivery” may be the top challenge today, but could just as easily become “free international delivery” tomorrow. Social media can cause sudden changes in inventory needs. Online shoppers may discover, share reviews and boost the sales products that once were slow movers, forcing the company to rethink inventory and stock locations for rapid fulfillment.
In this world, a shipper’s ability to identify and adapt to change is critical, as well as the need to capture meaningful data while controlling labor and shipping costs.
Mobile Solutions Bridge the Omni-Channel Gap
Many companies are adapting their operations, driving efficiency and capturing real-time order and shipping data by expanding their use of mobile technology. The timing is good to move beyond traditional fulfillment systems into a mobile-enabled workflow.
Today’s solutions are more powerful, intuitive and versatile than ever, and are streamlining fulfillment workflow. Rather diverting orders for processing at fixed workstations, companies can choose smart mobile solutions that enable workers to move to where they’re needed in the warehouse.
We’re seeing a growing demand for:
- Directed, paperless order picking, order packing and shipping software that runs on handheld computers
- Wearable computers and ring scanners for hands-free order processing
- Mobile-powered workstations for mobile picking, packing and shipment processing
- Handheld digital dimensioning tools that are inexpensive and can be used anywhere in the warehouse
- Mobile printers that enable workers to print on the fly, with no wasted steps back to printers at fixed locations
- Easy-to-learn voice technology to streamline picking and improve accuracy
Mobile technology can help you moderate your workflow to absorb changes in fulfillment patterns. Flexible rules-based order packing and shipping software can guide workers and eliminate errors. Mobile workstations can free up staff to move around and eliminate bottlenecks in workflow.
You may not need all of these mobility solutions to reduce labor and accelerate order throughput. For example, see the case study, How Grove Medical Ramped Up Shipping to 12X Faster to learn how one company made big gains by automating its shipping with hands-free technology.
All of these tools are available and in use by many of Logistyx Technologies’ customers. However, there is no “one size fits all” solution. The key is to choose the right combination of software and mobile computing equipment for your operations. To ensure that you’re getting the most out of mobile solutions, work with a proven logistics technology partner with deep experience in order fulfillment, shipping and mobile technology.
Logistyx Technologies is a provider of carrier-agnostic e-commerce fulfillment software and shipping software solutions that enable shippers to manage all their small parcel, LTL postal, regional, national and international carriers on one platform. We also help companies automate their reverse logistics process for greater efficiency and lower cost. Contact us today.
Copyright © 2017, Logistyx Technologies. All rights reserved.
¹ Nona Tepper, “E-commerce accounts for 41% of Grainger sales in 2015,” B2B Ecommerce World, January 26, 2016.
² Paul Demey, “John Deere Plows Further into e-Commerce,” B2B Ecommerce World, May 16, 2016.
³ Nona Tepper, ” Distributor Elite Calls Up New Mobile Website,” B2B Ecommerce World, May 9, 2016.