Have you ever wondered what it takes to get your online shopping order to your door? The products on your doorstep see a lot of the world before they get there. Each step in a package logistics journey requires expert knowledge to ensure its safe and reliable arrival. Let’s take a look:
Before a customer ever clicks the checkout button, their products are already being positioned at warehouses to reach consumers efficiently. In addition to standard inventory management warehousing techniques, most ecommerce clients employ safety stock strategies as insurance for continued sales when there is an unexpected spike in demand. First in first out also helps guarantee freshness in consumables and account for changes in product costs, too. These good warehousing strategies leads to good customer experiences
Once ordered, online shopping orders are sent to a fulfillment center to prepare for shipping, the vast majority of which are still fulfilled by human workers even for large ecommerce operations like Amazon FBA. So confirmed, the order is picked, packed, and labelled with some TLC by packing associates. Before it gets sent out, quality control personnel inspect the order to ensure it is complete, all products inside are undamaged, and the package itself is in good condition to stand up to the stress of shipment. This quick checklist can reduce customer complaints by as much as 30% by getting out in front of potential problems.
Distribution is the step that varies most for each individual ecommerce package. Depending upon the distribution partners your third party logistics provider uses, the order could take a plane, train, truck and boat. However, most products made overseas arrive at warehouses in the U.S. before becoming available for purchase to ensure a shorter estimated shipping timelines.
Products often have a 4-step process to arrive at your home: international distribution to your country, then regional to a large hub, a smaller district hub, and finally a last mile delivery partner will take it to your doorstep. Though a large order from the same manufacturer may be group shipped to their first destination, each step in the process diverts packages, and distribution partners pool the resources of many manufacturers to improve efficiency and decrease costs.
The last point of the logistics journey for an ecommerce purchase is the final tracking notification, a phenomenon that for savvy consumers has become highly anticipatory. Supply chain visibility is a growing desire for customers. But what many consumers aren’t familiar with is how their package notifications are tied to a network of supply chain transparency used to improve future distribution efforts. Each tracking notification is tied to a checkpoint called a node in the distributor’s delivery network. All of a manufacturer’s package notifications combined create a full view of efficiencies and opportunities for a better customer experience.
With a wide variety of special needs, each package must have a team of experts to ensure its arrival just in time and good condition. Choosing a 3PL provider with transparent supply chain management practices and good distributor relationships is key to creating a great customer experience and turning around less than stellar ones.