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Humans Are Your Competitive Advantage in Order Fulfillment

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Humans Are Your Competitive Advantage in Order Fulfillment

Regardless of the headlines - although moving around the warehouse, moving products from one location to another, drones in the air are all done by robots - much of logistics, and the eCommerce order fulfillment space, in particular, remains non-automated and human-intensive. 

Not robots, humans are your competitive advantage in order fulfillment.

In a commodity-driven world, the human touch facilitates and optimizes the space of order fulfillment and logistics. In fact, the human factor is becoming a competitive advantage of many 3PLs. Humans bring unique customization and personalization to a time when the world is rapidly over-commercialized. Especially in the context of this year’s extraordinary events, partnerships, transparency, and people connections are increasingly important things.

Human Resources in Order Fulfillment

The number of employees at Amazon has increased by more than 50% from 2019. From January to October 2020, they added 427,300 employees (about 1,500 per day!) and pushed the workforce to more than 1.2 million people globally.

This huge demand for labor is part of what set Amazon ahead of earlier this year and shifted Prime delivery times from their otherwise 2-day service standards. While delays can be caused by many factors such as the long transit times of domestic receipts, the lack of human capital for receiving, picking, packing, and shipping orders is their major concern.

Human resources in order fulfillment.

The rapid acceleration of e-commerce is certainly something the industry is still studying on. But automation, costs involved and development takes a lot of time. The benefits of automation are likely to overtake humans in a very short time.

Undeniably, e-commerce is a beast. Fulfillment is very challenging, unpredictable, and very specific. In contrast to the many characteristics of B2B distribution (predictable, clean, unified, orderly), e-commerce brands like to customize. They prefer customization, with particular cartonization or packaging, the unboxing experience with tissue and ribbon or note cards, and the need to pull often small goods out of mixed totes. Humans are better able to endure these aspects.

It is the Technology!

Think about not using technology for a business, in some form. From computers to infrastructure, from communications to mobile phones, technology is everywhere! When it comes to fulfillment, the customer always wants their order fulfillment partner to have a certain technological background. It may include the dashboard, real-time visibility, and dashboarding. While picking arms utilizing technology, that is secondary to some of these fundamentals.

Successful order fulfillment services are those that embrace the technology to modernize their systems.

Let's not confuse automation and technology. The most successful order fulfillment services are those that embrace the technology to modernize their systems (improving speed, visibility, transparency, integration).

While in certain cases automation is a practical solution, under all conditions visibility and tools are indispensable. With the acceleration of tech-enabled, modern eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, the logistics stack and particularly eCommerce order fulfillment, must continue to innovate and change to meet the ever-increasing expectations of operational stakeholders.

Although it is necessary to embrace the tools of innovation, there is still a long time to go until we see automation implemented significantly across the entire implementation value stream. The general lack of modularity in heavy automation is a challenge experienced by many experiences. Therefore, for a specific use case only, the automation systems will be designed to perform at their best.

The business models of many order fulfillment services would preclude investing resources in such automation when they support dozens or hundreds of clients within a building and have a level of churn that makes the payback of these expensive investments challenging. This is why we haven’t seen extensive automation within order fulfillment services.

The Intangibles Matter

Any competent order fulfillment service will tell you that order fulfillment has the four biggest fundamentals including accuracy, operational service, competitive cost, and visibility of products throughout the entire supply chain. The less known variable between order fulfillment services and brands is the human touch. This is becoming increasingly important for forming long-term partnerships.

The intangibles matter in order fulfillment service.


Without a shared mission, it is less likely that young operators will be able to partner with a business. The relationship will be transactional only if it does not have a clear shared value. As logistics becomes increasingly commoditized, the demand for adaptability, servicing, and maintaining flexibility increases. Those who get these things gain recognition in a crowded market.

Show that you care. In many different ways of marketing, potential new partners are putting themselves into the culture of the brand. Be it joining social networks and their email marketing lists, consulting recent news or announcements in a conversation, or even ordering products and discussing unboxing and product experiences. during calls. Show their efforts to be a true extension of their team. That's what brands want from you. Sometimes your clichéd actions will always be noticeable!

Conclusion

Any business should stand out for something. Develop your core competencies. The core competency of a business is what your customers perceive your business. Find an area that is your competitive advantage and become the best at that. The human side of order fulfillment is ripe for a new leader.

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