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Thinking Outside the (Cardboard) Box to Reduce E-Commerce Packaging Waste & Excess Costs

Did you know? About 165 billion packages are shipped in the US every year, according to data from USPS, FedEx, and UPS. (LimeLoop)

The packaging required for that package volume is roughly the equivalent of 1 billion trees!

At a micro-level, the typical household throws away up to 13,000 pieces of cardboard in a single year. Additional packaging materials, such as plastic, tape, and bubble wrap, each contribute a fair amount of landfill waste, as they often cannot be or simply are not recycled. 

Shipping packaging is directly to blame for a wide range of environmental issues, such as overcrowded landfills, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and litter pollution (both on land and in the ocean). 

As a result of this multi-pronged challenge of packaging waste, the battle to ship goods more sustainably is escalating. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in e-commerce shipping.

Let’s examine why and how online retailers can achieve greater profitability while transitioning toward a circular economy.

How does shipping packaging impact your business?

While the overall cost of packaging varies greatly by product and application, it typically accounts for 10%–30% of COGS. And if your packaging usage is excessive, you could be throwing away hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars every year. Yet, because shipping packaging is assumed to be essential, it’s often not seen as a facet that can be optimized to achieve both greater profitability and sustainability.

Factors ranging from weight and materials to size can impact your packaging needs and costs, but fulfillment and shipping methods are also key. Here are a few examples of things that will affect your packaging needs/costs:

  • Rising packaging material costs –  One of the main reasons you may have experienced an increase in packaging costs is an increase in demand for the raw materials used to produce corrugated cardboard (and hence for the finished material itself).
  • Oversized packaging – If the dimensions of the cardboard box don’t closely match the product dimensions, your packaging is likely to be excessive. For instance, a t-shirt doesn’t need to be in a 15” x 15” box. Some e-retailers make the mistake of ordering oversized boxes under the pretext of getting a discount for bulk packaging purchases and having something that can fit most/all of their products. This can become unnecessarily expensive if your delivery carrier applies dimensional weight pricing, and it is also wasteful in terms of the excess material used.
  • Ineffective packaging materials – when your packaging is not sufficient to protect your product, you end up paying for it with higher return rates (due to damage) and customer churn. This can obviously increase your overall costs and even kill your business. Do NOT attempt to save money by reducing your protective packaging unless you are (a), confident your product can hold up in transit, or (b) using micro-fulfillment (i.e. Ohi’s instant delivery platform) to greatly reduce the last mile delivery distance.
  • Order fulfillment – If your e-commerce orders typically ship via standard ground delivery to the end customer from one or just a few traditional warehouses (whether in-house fulfillment or 3PL), your protective packaging needs are likely to be high, given that orders are traveling hundreds/thousands of miles in the back of a truck before they arrive to your customer. If on the other hand, you have your inventory forward-positioned into micro-fulfillment centers, your orders can be hand-delivered by a gig driver/rider and only need to travel a few miles to reach your customer. Many merchants on Ohi’s platform have completely eliminated the need for any cardboard or plastic protective exterior packaging, which is good for the environment and for their bottom line.

How can your e-commerce business cut down on wasteful packaging and costs?

The majority of packaging used today is still linear, meaning that the packaging for a product is created from raw materials, the product is used, and the packaging is discarded.

Renowned brands like Gucci, Nike, Puma, and Zara are starting to recognize the environmental impact of their packaging and are working to incorporate sustainability initiatives to achieve the triple bottom line by creating packaging for a circular economy. 

Consider the following strategies to optimize packaging and reduce shipping costs and waste:

1. Think outside the traditional cardboard box.

Cardboard boxes, as discussed earlier in the article, contribute to millions of tons of waste each year, and even in proposed reuse scenarios, they are often quickly discarded and dumped into landfills.

Using packaging alternatives that facilitate composting and biodegradable processes will help your brand amplify its sustainability efforts.

For instance, Puma, a leader in sportswear and shoes, launched ‘Clever Little Bag’ to replace the traditional shoebox, using 65% less cardboard. 

Source: Fuseproject

The bag and box system has no printing or tissue, assembles easily, takes up less space, weighs less in shipping (saving money and fuel on the delivery), replaces the plastic retail bag, and is completely recyclable.

There are many options available to choose from as compared to a few years ago when there were limited options and they were more expensive.

  • Easily biodegradable/compostable packaging like molded pulp packaging. 
  • Reusable packaging like eco-friendly tote bags is ideal if you use a micro-fulfillment, as you no longer need a heavy layer of protection with a greatly reduced travel distance.

2. Make your deliveries faster, more sustainable, and more cost-effective with Ohi.

Ohi deliveries were shown to be 22x more eco-friendly than next-day air and 5x more eco-friendly than 3-5 day ground.

Here’s how Ohi’s instant delivery platform is eco-friendly as well as business-friendly:

  • Ohi’s e-commerce fulfillment platform generates the least carbon emissions because products are shipped from micro-fulfillment centers that are located very close (often just a few city blocks) to your end customers. 
  • We use foot couriers and bike, e-bike, and scooter couriers in densely populated urban areas (instead of vans/trucks), which results in faster deliveries (due to the ability to avoid traffic) and less overall fuel consumption.
  • Ohi promotes the use of eco-friendly reusable totes for 2-hour and same-day deliveries whenever possible, as opposed to expensive/wasteful conventional packaging. Excess packaging is not needed for Ohi deliveries, because the risk of damage in transit has been virtually eliminated.
  • While Ohi’s model is sustainable, there is still a residual carbon footprint that remains from areas of the business that still require fuel or carbon consumption (e.g. middle mile line hauls).. So, we’ve partnered with EcoCart to calculate and offset the remaining carbon footprint, allowing us to offer our customers carbon-neutral e-commerce fulfillment. 

Ohi helped a leading kombucha brand, Health-Ade, increase its customer lifetime value (CLV) by 49% while greatly reducing their packaging waste and shipping damages.

Adopting a more sustainable approach to your e-commerce business doesn’t have to mean a loss of profits. By implementing sustainable solutions and strategies at each step of your post-purchase experience, you can provide a better customer experience, contribute to a circular economy, and even reduce your overall shipping costs. 


About Ohi

At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

Holiday Shipping Tips to Gear Up for the Seasonal Rush  

While October might be a little early to start playing Mariah Carey on repeat, it isn’t too early to start planning your e-commerce holiday shipping strategy.

Experts predict that the ongoing economic woes and persistent inflation will cause customers to shop earlier for gifts this year. A Salesforce survey suggests the same: 37% of US shoppers (and 42% worldwide) plan to start buying gifts earlier this year due to inflation.

Meanwhile, traditional parcel carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS have been in the headlines lately for the wrong reasons, including discussions of strikes, rate hikes, more surcharges, and possible holiday shipping delays.

With changes in consumer behavior afoot, coupled with uncertainty among the major carriers, it’s important to lock your holiday shipping plans into place early this year. 

Here are six tips to help you power up your holiday shipping strategy this season and ensure a great customer experience and optimal results for your business. 

1. Forecast demand to manage your supply chain and fulfillment operations.

Sure, the high surge in demand and order volume is all a brand wants for Christmas, but is your business ready to handle it all? What is your game plan?

When demand spikes, will you have adequate inventory in place throughout your fulfillment network to avoid stockouts or delays? 

By forecasting early on, you will be able to:

  • Hone in on future demand scenarios for peak sales months, keep pace with holiday demand, and mitigate inventory shortages and stockouts. 
  • Plan ahead to have enough inventory available for any surprises during the holiday shipping season.
  • Ensure smooth and early inventory transfer processes (to your fulfillment centers) to dodge any delays in middle mile logistics that can rear up during the holidays.
  • Determine which products to promote and which will naturally sell through (e.g., you can offer discounts on SKUs you are overstocked in to help reduce excess inventory).

2. Diversify your carrier mix to ensure on-time delivery and keep customers happy.

Shipping delays are a holiday killjoy, and it would be a Christmas miracle if orders shipped via the largest carriers aren’t delayed at all this holiday season, considering the industry challenges. 

But to quote Kate McCallister, “This is Christmas, the season of perpetual hope.”

Now is the perfect time to upgrade your carrier strategy and ensure ultrafast and on-time deliveries during your peak sales months. 

Here are a few easy ways to diversify your carrier mix: 

  • Get onto Ohi’s instant delivery platform. Ohi uses 20+ last-mile delivery carriers, all pre-integrated with Ohi, to offer on-time and fast deliveries across your most important regional markets.
  • If you’re set on sticking with the traditional carriers, at least be aware of the “last day to ship” for delivery by Christmas. Check out this free resource to stay on top of holiday shipping deadlines for UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Ohi. 

Service
2022 Last Day to Ship
2021 Last Day to Ship
FedEx
FedEx Ground®
Dec 14, 2022
Dec 15, 2021
FedEx Ground Economy
Dec 8, 2022
Dec 9, 2021
FedEx Same Day
Dec 23, 2022
Dec 24, 2021
FedEx Express Saver®
Dec 20, 2022
Dec 21, 2021
Home Delivery®
Dec 14, 2022
Dec 15, 2021
2Day® Services
Dec 21, 2022
Dec 22, 2021
USPS
Retail Ground®
Dec 15, 2022
Dec 15, 2021
First Class Mail®
Dec 17, 2022
Dec 17, 2021
Priority Mail®
Dec 19, 2022
Dec 18, 2021
Priority Mail Express®
Dec 23, 2022
Dec 23, 2021
UPS
UPS Ground®
Check ups.com/ctc for details.
Check ups.com/ctc for details.
3 Day Select®
Dec 20, 2022
Dec 21, 2021
UPS 2nd Day Air® services
Dec 21, 2022
Dec 22, 2021
UPS Next Day Air® services
Dec 22, 2022
Dec 23, 2021
Ohi: Instant Delivery Platform
Two-Hour (Rush)
12pm local time, Dec 24, 2022
12pm local time, Dec 24, 2021
Same Day
12pm local time, Dec 24, 2022
12pm local time, Dec 24, 2021
Next Day
Dec 23, 2022
Dec 23, 2021

3. Offer fast and free delivery to extend and maximize peak sales

In a survey conducted by Shopkick last year, 94% of customers said that free shipping was the perk they wanted most when shopping online this holiday season, followed closely by fast shipping (60%).

Numerous surveys and studies emphasize how important fast and free delivery is to shoppers during the holidays, but what doesn’t get discussed enough is how offering fast delivery can extend the holiday shopping season for sellers.

By offering instant delivery through a platform like Ohi’s, sellers can add more than a week of holiday shopping (right up to Christmas Eve) versus standard delivery via FedEx/UPS/USPS standard. (See the table above for specific cutoffs.)

When it comes to pricing shipping during the holidays, it’s hard for some retailers to resist the urge to charge more for shipping (given rate hikes, the importance of on-time delivery when Christmas is fast approaching, etc.). But the data shows that charging for shipping is not a winning proposition.

Recent research of Ohi-enabled brands shows that customers choose instant delivery 5x more often when brands price instant delivery either, 

  1. free 
  2. free above an order amount threshold,
  3. or in line with their standard shipping than when instant delivery was priced higher than standard shipping (i.e., 3-5 day ground). 

It is evident from the research that merchants hoping to maximize sales this holiday season should strongly consider “unpricing” shipping.

Did you know: With Ohi’s instant delivery platform, you don’t have to lose sleep over increased shipping costs and holiday surcharges. Because Ohi uses micro-fulfillment centers near your end customers, you enjoy low, flat-rate pricing regardless of parcel weight/size, and your customers get ultrafast delivery. 

Pottery Barn’s holiday free shipping banner begs for attention. (Image Source: XL Plugins)

4. Clearly display your shipping deadlines to manage customer expectations.

Holiday shipping deadlines are typically made available a few months prior to the start of the holiday season. You can refer here for a summary of the “last day to ship” for the major carriers and Ohi.

Once you’ve worked through the deadlines and your own team’s constraints, it’s critical to communicate what these mean to your customers, so they can buy or send gifts in a timely manner.

These shipping deadlines should be prominently displayed on your e-commerce websites (and any apps), and proactively communicated to customers well ahead of the deadlines.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Add a banner to your website explicitly calling out the last day to order for delivery by Christmas.
  • Create a dedicated holiday shipping page that shows all the pertinent dates and recommendations.
  • Post regularly on social media as the cutoff dates get closer.
  • Send “last day to order” emails: Remind everyone on your email list that time is of the essence!

Macy’s holiday sale and the last day to ship banners are hard to miss. (Image Source: Website Magazine)

5. Plan your holiday customer service strategy to handle the rush.

Did you know that, according to a recent Coveo report shared by Retail Dive, 73% of shoppers will ghost a brand after three or fewer bad customer service experiences. 

Navigating holiday customer service peaks is never “fun.” When you account for supply chain hiccups, shipping delays, holiday-related stress, and a significant increase in online shopping, CX becomes a completely different ballgame during the holidays.

During the holidays, you need customer support that is trained to work patiently and empathically with these customers and present fixes instead of excuses. And your CX team must be sufficiently staffed to handle peak volumes and the inquiries that will inevitably come in.

Here’s an instant fix: if many of your complaints/inquiries are about delayed orders or order status, then maybe it’s time to switch to an instant delivery platform like Ohi’s. When orders arrive in as little as two hours, that’s a whole lot of “where is my order?” calls your CX team will no longer have to deal with.

6. Run holiday promotions and campaigns to kick off early sales.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.” -Elf 

Sometimes all a savvy shopper wants for Christmas is a special offer. And they are a perfect way to kick off your holiday sales.

Launching holiday promotions and campaigns early on will save you tons of time during the busy season, and it will also help you stake some of your customers’ mindshare before your competitors do the same.

Here are a few ways to kickstart your holiday sales: 

  • Run/share holiday promotions across all your channels, including social, email, SMS, ads, and website.
  • Plan an early holiday giveaway. Sephora partnered with GlamZilla, a well-known beauty influencer, as the face of their campaign to drive interest in consumers’ creating their own personal wish lists with Sephora. The campaign has generated tons of user-generated content.
  • Make use of good old email marketing to send out discount and promo emails. Make sure to highlight the offer in the subject line. 
  • Run holiday-themed display campaigns early on because a study by Amazon discovered that display campaigns that ran for 90 days or more performed 20% better.  
  • Create and share gift guides to encourage your shoppers to see your products as excellent gift ideas, and make sure to offer exclusive discounts to get them to buy. 
  • Showcase holiday-themed products on your website to encourage customers to begin shopping early.

Tipsy Elves has already restocked on ‘Ugly Christmas Sweaters’.

‘Tis the season to gear up for the rush  

While most people are out hanging skeletons and cobwebs, the best retailers and brands are already getting plans in place for the holiday season. 

By taking concrete steps to ensure a smooth holiday shipping experience for your customers, you’ll also be in a prime position to maximize your store’s profits and end the year with a bang!


About Ohi

At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

E-commerce Shipping 101: A Guide to Fulfillment Pricing, Costs, and Key Strategies

At a glance, e-commerce order fulfillment and delivery may not seem like the most significant cogs in your business, but that is where much of the post-sale magic happens. You can have the best product in the world, but without an optimal fulfillment/delivery solution, your business will soon be out of the running. 

There is a wide range of fulfillment providers and solutions to choose from, from third-party logistics companies (or 3PLs) and carriers like FedEx to instant delivery platforms like Ohi. Therefore, understanding the spectrum of different fulfillment solutions and how much they will cost you is crucial to your e-commerce success. 

Whether you’re a fast-growing brand that’s ready to expand nationwide or you’re just getting started, this guide will help you understand several of the most popular approaches to e-commerce order fulfillment and how they differ from a cost standpoint.

1. What are e-commerce order fulfillment services?

Fulfillment services entail a bunch of steps carried out by one or more fulfillment companies to get orders delivered to the end customer. 

Typically, if you hire a 3PL or a fulfillment partner, your business will be charged fees for each of these services and will be invoiced as part of the total fulfillment cost. Some services, such as pick and pack, may be further subdivided into different charges depending on your business needs.

Want to learn more about e-commerce order fulfillment services? Check out our straightforward guide.

2. What are e-commerce order fulfillment costs?

Put simply, it’s all the money you’ll spend on delivering an order to the end customer. The cost of fulfilling an order is determined by various factors such as receiving and storing products, processing orders, and shipping orders.

Typically, order fulfillment costs will vary depending on the provider, order pricing models, and any additional services.

The fulfillment fee comprises the following bulleted workflows: 

  • Receiving/storing inventory
  • Order processing
  • Picking/packing
  • Shipping
  • Reverse logistics

Many popular third-party logistics providers charge an additional surcharge on top of the standard fulfillment fee for SKUs that contain batteries or hazardous materials. 

3. How to calculate your e-commerce order fulfillment and delivery costs?

Fulfillment and shipping costs can seem like a black box at first, but understanding how your costs accrue and what each cost is will offer you better control over your budget and enable you to confidently use fulfillment as a growth lever.

In addition, you’ll have a better sense of where and how to distribute your inventory and which fulfillment solution(s) will be the most business-friendly, given your specific product and demand characteristics.

 Let’s take a look at the pricing models for some of the most common e-commerce fulfillment and shipping options out there. 

3.1 Pricing model for traditional 3PLs (third-party logistics companies)

Fulfillment fees vary from 3PL to 3PL depending on the services (you choose), their billing system, and their rates. But some fulfillment companies charge on a monthly or time-based basis, and many others charge on an order-by-order basis. For example, with Amazon, your biggest expense might be storage fees, which are typically premised on bin, pallet, or size and can add up quickly if products are left in the warehouse for an extended time.

A traditional 3PL houses your inventory in their warehouses or fulfillment centers, picks, and packs, and delivers products to your customers. If reverse logistics is a part of your contract, then they manage product returns as well.

speed delivery

When choosing a logistics partner, remember to base your decision on the services a 3PL offers and carefully consider its pricing model. These days, many modern 3PLs deliver orders from several distribution centers to minimize travel time and costs, enabling delivery in 2-5 days, for example. Here’s a leading 3PL’s approach to pricing, for reference:

  1. Delivery fees: These costs will vary based on the following order/parcel characteristics. This variability can make it hard to forecast and plan expenses, especially if there is great variability in the product mix and/or demand patterns:
    • destination 
    • weight and size
    • dimensions 
    • shipping speed, etc. 
  2. Pick & pack fees: These costs are often rolled into fulfillment costs but can be a standalone expense too. The fees will vary from standard packaging (e.g., generic poly mailers and boxes) to branded packaging. 
  3. Storage fees: Storage fees are determined by the amount of space required to keep your items safe in the warehouse. The pricing model may differ depending on the fulfillment provider and the product.
    • The per-pallet pricing model is considered the most cost-effective option. (With monthly rates ranging from $5 to $20.)
    • When you need to avoid ’empty space,’ the per cubic foot of space model is used. (The monthly cost for this particular example ranges between $.30 and $.60.)
    • The per bin model is used for quick fulfillment and costs between $1 and $2.50 per month.

Some other fees associated with fulfillment 

  1. Setup fees: there’s usually a one-time onboarding fee. Some companies charge a flat rate while others base the setup fee on the type of inventory they need to deal with, along with other factors from intake to delivery.

3PLs often calculate an item’s monthly storage fee by cubic foot, which is important to consider if your products are large. Besides that, fulfillment services may charge additional fees for temperature control (cold chain, for example) or fragile items in some cases.

  1. Inventory receiving and intake fees: typically cover the process of receiving a new inventory and sorting it at the warehouse. These fees can be charged in two ways:
    • Per hour
    • Per-unit basis 
  2. Kitting fees (if applicable): the fee associated with bundling individual products into ready-made sets or ‘kits’. Kitting is provided as an add-on by many 3PLs.
  3. Reverse logistics fees: costs associated with restocking or disposing of returned items. Some 3PLs accept returns on your behalf, while some don’t.

3.2. Pricing model of carriers (i.e., UPS/FedEx) 

If you decide to fulfill your own orders and partner with a carrier such as FedEx or UPS for last-mile deliveries, bear in mind that each carrier service provides a smorgasbord of e-commerce shipping solutions with varying pricing, giving you different options based on your budget and requirements. 

Here’s how a carrier typically calculates charges: 

  • Your shipment’s origin and destination 
    • Generally, the farther your shipment needs to go, the more zones it has to travel to reach the end customer, the more you’ll pay to ship it.
    • FedEx, USPS, and UPS create their zone lists by dividing the country into seven shipping zones (as shown in the table below) to calculate the distance a package travels from origin to destination.
    • These zones impact both the cost and delivery speed of your packages. Here’s a breakdown of shipping zones for FedEx and USPS:
Shipping ZoneMile Radius (from origin)
Zone 1 (local)50 mile radius
Zone 251 – 150 mile radius
Zone 3151 – 300 mile radius
Zone 4301 – 600 mile radius
Zone 5601 – 1000 mile radius
Zone 61001 – 1400 mile radius
Zone 71401 – 1800 mile radius
Zone 81801+ mile radius
  • Package type, dimensions, and weight 
    • The delivery service you pick will decide the price you pay.
    • The size and weight of your package also impact your shipping cost.
    • Carriers such as FedEx and UPS calculate prices using either the dimensional weight (dim weight) or the actual weight of the package—whichever is greater.
    • Usually, the bigger and heavier your shipment is, the more it will cost.
  • Other factors that affect shipping rates
    • Shipping/delivery prices can be affected by factors like: 
      • Fuel costs – carriers such as UPS and FedEx apply fuel surcharges to the base transportation rate.
      • Delivery and pickup conditions such as any areas outside the carrier’s range (rural, hard-to-access, or remote), or weather constraints causing the delay.
      • Special handling requirements for products that are fragile, large, heavy, climate-sensitive, or have special storage needs.
      • Holiday package volumes.

Now that you have a better understanding of how carriers price shipping, below is a list of shipping calculators for some of the most popular shipping carriers to help you find the most cost-effective option for your business needs. 

  1. FedEx – Shipping Calculator 
  2. UPS – Shipping Calculator 
  3. DHL – Shipping Calculator
  4. USPS – Shipping Calculator 

But before you choose a shipping carrier, it’s helpful to know the answers to the following questions:

  • Where are you shipping to?
  • Where are you shipping from?
  • What products are you shipping? Are your products heavy?
  • What type of packaging will you use? Standard or branded?
  • Have you determined a budget? Do you intend to offer free shipping, flat-rate shipping, or exact-cost shipping?
  • What do your customers anticipate from your delivery policy? Do they want their order to be insured, or do they have specific delivery deadlines?
  • How will you handle the other aspects of e-commerce fulfillment, including storage, pick & pack, and more? Will you need to team up with third-party logistics (3PL) providers?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can then move on to select a carrier to ship your e-commerce orders—or several, if that’s what you think will work best for your business. Many businesses employ a mix of several carriers to improve coverage, keep an aspect of cost competition between carriers, and optimize delivery speed. 

One important thing to keep in mind with regard to traditional carriers like UPS/FedEx is that despite relatively mediocre delivery speeds (3-5 day ground, for example), prices can quickly get expensive based on distance traveled (related to fuel costs). And if you’re looking to ship expedited via UPS/FedEx, jet fuel costs can often catapult shipping costs into the $100+ range per order, particularly if your products are heavy/large.

That’s why micro-fulfillment based platforms like Ohi exist – to offer instant delivery (2-hour, same-day, next-day) at a reasonable cost. Ohi achieves great speed and efficiency by forward-positioning inventory in major cities, near the end customer.

Need faster e-commerce fulfillment? Choose an instant delivery platform.

If your e-commerce brand already enjoys substantial nationwide order volume, you could be eligible for an instant delivery platform like Ohi’s, enabling much faster deliveries and setting the stage for improved conversions, customer lifetime value, and repeat purchases. A successful e-commerce business is a consistent orchestration of pre and post-sale operations. With delivery standards continuously being raised by the likes of Amazon and customers demanding faster shipping, your direct-to-consumer business might consider adding instant delivery to your existing fulfillment strategy. 

For instance, with Ohi’s instant delivery platform your e-commerce business will enjoy the following:

  • Ultrafast two-hour, same-day, and next-day delivery
  • Simple, flat-rate pricing, regardless of weight, parcel size, etc. for nationwide deliveries, due to hyperlocal micro-fulfillment centers
  • Fixed monthly storage fees
  • Delivery without fuel surcharges (since last mile fuel consumption is very low)
  • Competitive per-order pricing inclusive of pick & pack, last-mile delivery, and live ops/CX support/account management
  • Reduced packaging costs due to micro-fulfillment (i.e.: less travel distance)
  • Keep your current 3PL; Ohi can layer on to your existing fulfillment strategy to provide delivery speed where it matters most.

If you want to learn more about Ohi, get in touch here.  


At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

How to Choose the Right E-commerce Fulfillment Partner

e-commerce fulfillment partner

Order fulfillment can make or break your e-commerce business. It sounds cliche, but a reliable e-commerce fulfillment partner will help your brand delight customers and grow your business. In contrast, a poor e-commerce fulfillment service will cause you to lose your customers and leave your brand reputation in tatters, no matter how awesome your product is. 

So, how do you choose the right e-commerce fulfillment partners? What are the best criteria? 

Before we delve into the essentials to help you make the right choice, here’s a brief introduction to help you understand e-commerce order fulfillment services a bit better. 

What are e-commerce fulfillment services?

Think of an e-commerce fulfillment service as a command center for your e-commerce business that deals with the post-checkout process of delivering online orders to the customer.

However, e-commerce fulfillment is much more than placing a parcel on a customer’s welcome mat. Fulfillment includes receiving and storing inventory, processing orders, picking items, packing boxes, and shipping the items to the customer’s destination, along with the requisite communication to both internal parties and the end customer.

Who would need e-commerce fulfillment partners? 

  • Businesses that run on a direct-to-consumer model and have no high street store or storage facilities
  • Companies that have simply outgrown in-house fulfillment capabilities to the point they can no longer dispatch orders at scale
  • Omni-channel businesses that are looking to add an e-commerce channel 

Typically, most fulfillment services run on large warehouses on the outskirts of cities, but modern-day fulfillment solutions make use of multiple small-scale warehouses called micro-fulfillment centers. These micro-fulfillment centers are set up in metro areas and rely on automation to cater to customers’ needs and fulfill the goals of faster and more sustainable delivery across different geographic locations. 

Difference between e-commerce fulfillment services and traditional 3PLs

Although traditional 3PLs share some overlap with e-commerce fulfillment services, most 3PL companies focus on just providing basic functions of logistics, i.e., pick and pack, warehousing, distribution, etc.) whereas full-service fulfillment centers offer more comprehensive services, including customer support and returns. 

  • Delivery speed – given their model, traditional 3PLs lack the means to enable instant delivery for brands; they can cut down the wait time to two days or one day (next-day delivery), at best. However, cutting down on delivery time is costly for them. But this is where modern e-commerce fulfillment services like Ohi shine; Ohi, for example, is able to provide deliveries same-day and often in under two hours.
  • Cost – 3PLs often charge based on weight, time, and distance, whereas modern e-commerce solutions like Ohi charge a flat fee. Instant commerce solutions often forward-position inventory in micro-fulfillment centers around the country, significantly reducing the transportation and delivery required on a per-order basis, even if the number of dedicated deliveries increases significantly. 
  • Sustainability – another key difference is proximity to end customers, which allows these modern e-commerce fulfillment services to use eco-friendly transportation (walkers, bicycle messengers, and electric vehicles) and reduce the need for wasteful cardboard packaging. In contrast, this is far from possible with a traditional 3PL.

While there are a few patent differences, 3PLs and instant commerce providers like Ohi tend to serve different needs. Because providing two-hour or same-day delivery coverage throughout the nation (including in rural areas) is impractical and unrealistic for any fulfillment service, many merchants leverage modern e-commerce fulfillment providers like Ohi alongside their 3PL in synergy, to offer an incredible instant commerce experience (where available) and reasonably fast delivery elsewhere in the country.

How to choose the right e-commerce fulfillment partner?

According to an eMarketer report:

“The biggest challenges facing retailers today include transportation, scalability, inventory management, order processing speed and accuracy, and profitability.”

You need a fulfillment partner that can reliably provide services to reach and exceed KPIs in all five of the areas above. This guide will walk you through key factors to keep in mind as you go fulfillment hunting for the right e-commerce fulfillment service.

1. Delivery speed

If your customers are like most shoppers today, they expect fast delivery (and will expect it to get faster and faster).

According to PWC’s recent global consumer insights survey, fast delivery is shoppers’ #1 overall consideration when buying online (ranked top three by 41% of respondents).

With the emergence of same-day and two-hours or less delivery options, the benefit or strength of two-day delivery as a competitive advantage has started to wane. This is because these options are no longer considered fast enough by modern shoppers. Therefore, growth-mindset e-commerce retailers are increasingly pivoting to instant delivery, as this is a proven strategy to improve their customer experience and help enhance customer acquisition and retention.

With instant delivery fast becoming the expectation, longer delivery times may propel your customers to shop from your competitors, hurting your business.

2. Warehouse locations

Nowadays, consumers increasingly are not satisfied with two-day delivery. And it’s near impossible to meet the delivery speed needs of today’s customers with outdated fulfillment models that solely rely on gigantic warehouses based in the middle of nowhere, where land is cheap. While this may seem attractive on the surface, consider what that fulfillment approach means for your last mile delivery experience and delivery speed.

If speed is what you’re after, you need to look for a micro-fulfillment-based solution that utilizes small warehouses (or micro-fulfillment centers) in densely populated urban areas, to shorten the time/distance to the end customer. By keeping your inventory hyperlocal to customers, the last mile delivery experience can be extra quick, since a delivery courier can then deliver one order at a time (point-to-point) instead of hundreds of orders by the truckload.

3. Scalability

A good potential partner should be just as focused on your company’s continued growth as you are. Furthermore, they should be flexible and prepared to acclimate and grow with you as your business grows. You should see evidence that they have the capacity (or are actively adding the capacity) to meet your growing order volume in a way that maintains a high standard of operational excellence and your all-important customer experience.

In summary, make sure you team up with an e-commerce fulfillment provider who is flexible, adaptive, scalable, and capable of tackling unprecedented situations and volume spikes.

4. Data tracking

The only way to scale your business is to have complete visibility into your metrics to maximize your efforts on areas of growth and create solutions for bottlenecks discovered. In addition, as a critical component of brand differentiation, e-commerce businesses must be able to provide excellent customer service, which is dependent on having accurate and timely data at their fingertips.

Choose a fulfillment provider that provides these critical data tracking capabilities in as near real-time as possible:

  • Inventory levels for your products (as well as forecasted ordering schedules)
  • Real-time customer order tracking for all your deliveries
  • Real-time inventory order tracking so you know your products are available
  • Analytics for better insights into product purchase trends

5. Order fulfillment technology and integrations

Technology is critical when it comes to selecting the best e-commerce fulfillment provider. The two most important aspects of this are how your online store communicates with the fulfillment services and how they help you with data leveraging.

With the right technology, you can send product orders from your e-commerce platform to your fulfillment provider for distribution without needing additional insight from you or your team. Furthermore, the software automatically updates order statuses and inventory levels in the warehouse and your company’s website. These should be simple, automated processes designed to streamline your operations and ensure that your online store functions reliably.

Look for a fulfillment service that offers these features:

  • State-of-the-art software
  • Automated fulfillment processes and accurate reporting
  • Integrations with the top e-commerce platforms on the market, i.e., Shopify, Magento, etc. 

6. Returns management

92% of consumers in a survey said they would buy again if the product return process was easy, whereas 79% of consumers expect free return shipping. (source)

E-commerce fulfillment entails more than just delivering packages to customers. Many providers also help merchants with receiving returns and processing refunds, referred to as reverse logistics. An experienced third-party logistics provider understands how to manage returned products efficiently. They can assist a retailer in developing a return policy that keeps profit margins way above the red line.

7. Costs

It is reasonable to expect some initial costs associated with offloading your order fulfillment needs to an e-commerce fulfillment service provider. However, when you do so, you will most likely later save a considerable amount on labor, overhead, packing supplies, and other variable expenses down the road. Furthermore, if you choose a modern e-commerce fulfillment solution, such as one that practices micro-fulfillment with fewer overhead costs, like Ohi, you can often benefit from transparent and low flat-rate pricing, as inventory is forward-positioned and last mile delivery is greatly simplified.

It’s important to understand that cost is often overemphasized as a criterion when looking at e-commerce fulfillment providers. By enabling fast delivery, retailers often see outsized ROI via gains in conversion rates and customer loyalty metrics like repeat purchase rates and customer lifetime value, which more than justify the initial cost of enabling these fulfillment services.

‘Modern problems require modern solutions.’ 

Outdated traditional e-commerce fulfillment solutions might still dominate the e-commerce landscape today but will increasingly fail to meet the needs of modern customers who want instant delivery. Look beyond a single 3PL partner approach and consider using a mix of fulfillment partners that together address your customers’ needs.


At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

Does Delivery Speed Matter in E-commerce?

delivery speed matter in ecommerce

Gone are the days when two-day delivery was exciting. Customer expectations and shopping behaviors around delivery speed have shifted. People want everything delivered ASAP, a preference that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions that presented.

As a result, many more e-commerce businesses are building ‘speed’ into their DNA, cutting down on the wait time window by expanding into same-day and two-hour or less delivery coverage.

The playing field is jam-packed with marketplaces racing to deliver orders at an unbelievably fast speed, begging the question, just how much does delivery speed really matter? Here’s a round-up of various studies offering insights on the question. 

The shift to e-commerce was already happening but has been accelerated by the pandemic

People ordered stuff online before the pandemic, but not near the rates we see today. So, what gives? The demand for instant delivery of groceries, food, and other convenience products increased when the coronavirus forced Americans to stay at home. Contactless delivery was a necessary evil that consumers have increasingly come to appreciate, even as the pandemic wanes. More people began shopping online with greater frequency in 2020 and 2021, accelerating the ongoing shift to e-commerce by more than five years, according to IBM’s US Retail Index.

Regardless, these events unfolded a new chapter in e-commerce, giving rise to instant commerce, also called quick commerce, kickstarting the delivery speed trend.  

Expectations around delivery speed are higher than ever, thanks in large part to Amazon Prime

Amazon has always been ahead of the delivery speed curve and is known for having the fastest and most convenient delivery options. This e-commerce giant has subtly shifted consumer perceptions of delivery speed from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have,” and continually pushes the envelope with faster and faster offerings such as its Prime two-hour delivery.

Prime first debuted in 2005, providing two-day delivery as part of its subscription-based membership. Then in 2009, when e-commerce was still in its infancy, Amazon became one of the only major retailers to introduce same-day delivery. Same-day delivery was initially offered across just seven cities and cost Prime members $6 and non-Prime members $15. And within the next five years, customers began embracing same-day delivery, ordering 10x the number of products using same-day delivery. 

Amazon’s logistics clout has disrupted a decades-old market dominated by FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS). Businesses like Amazon and Walmart have followed suit, throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into making same-day or two-hour delivery possible for their customers. 

Image source: Vox

Online shoppers place a premium on convenience and speed.

Interestingly, a survey found that 96% of respondents equated “fast delivery” with same-day delivery, 61% wanted their orders to arrive within 3 hours after checkout, and 25% declared that they would outright abandon their carts if same-day delivery wasn’t an option. 

Meanwhile, Instacart recently reported that 85% of shoppers in a survey by The Harris Poll said they prefer to receive grocery orders in two hours or less.

Shoppers are willing to pay more for faster deliveries

Time is money to many shoppers, particularly to hyper-busy segments such as parents or young professionals. This demographic is typically more willing to pay a premium for convenience. Here’s a rundown of several studies that shows the significance of delivery speed to these online shoppers. 

  • 53% of shoppers in the US showed a willingness to pay a premium price for a same-day delivery window. (McKinsey
  • In 2020, Amazon reported 200 million paying Prime members worldwide, up from 150 million paid Prime members worldwide at the end of 2019. 
  • In fact, according to Statista, millennials between the ages of 25 and 40 and Gen Z between the ages of 18 and 24 are more willing to pay for faster delivery than boomers or Gen X. 
  • According to Delivering on Demand: Consumer 2021 Insights Survey, 65% of consumers are willing to pay more for faster deliveries. 

Call it the “Amazon Effect,” perhaps, but consumers now expect options for two-day, same-day, and even sub-two-hour delivery options at the checkout, and they are willing to pay for it. 

Optimizing delivery speed promise can substantially affect a company’s sales

The recent study “Sooner or Later? Promising Delivery Speed in Online Retail” suggests that optimizing delivery speed promises can significantly impact a company’s sales. The research showed that when the retailer promised customers one day faster shipping, sales increased, profits increased, and customers spent more per order. The one-day faster promise increased sales by 0.73%, profits by 2.0%, and value per order by 3.5%.

Similarly, the research also illustrated that a slower delivery speed promise negatively affected the variables. For example, the data shows that a one-day slower delivery speed could result in a decrease in sales by 0.51%, profits by 2.7%, and value per order by 3.1%. 

Repeat purchase rates associated with 2-hour delivery were even higher than same-day delivery

ROI data from Ohi, an instant commerce provider for DTC brands, shows a strong payoff for businesses that invest in delivery speed.

Ohi analyzed some of its large partner brands that use Ohi’s 2-hour and same-day delivery and found that orders with same-day delivery had 30% higher repeat purchase rates than standard UPS/FedEx. But interestingly, repeat purchase rates associated with Ohi’s 2-hour delivery were even higher: up to 24% higher than same-day delivery and 61% higher than standard UPS/FedEx.

Outcomes observed were similar for customer lifetime value (CLV). Customers who initially ordered with Ohi same-day had 23% higher CLV than orders fulfilled through UPS/FedEx. CLV for Ohi 2-hour delivery was up to 16% higher than same-day delivery and 43% higher than standard UPS/FedEx.

To sum up ‘delivery speed in e-commerce’

So is delivery speed essential to a great overall shopping experience? If your e-commerce business does not cut down on the gap between the checkout and the customer’s doorstep, your customers will seek an alternative brand or marketplace that satisfies their need for speed. Besides, building delivery speed into your e-commerce strategy can put your brand on the path to a frictionless buying journey for your customers, which will help increase your online conversion rates and improve customer loyalty.


At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

Instant Delivery: A Quick Guide for Retailers

instant delivery

85% of online shoppers look for better options when delivery speed is too slow.

Within the last couple of years, delivery speed has become a top priority for online shoppers and a huge opportunity for retailers. The evolving preferences of the savvy shoppers, their increased reliance on online shopping and need for instant gratification have propelled the rise of various instant delivery platforms like Ohi and marketplaces like GoPuff, Instacart. These next-generation platforms take the delivery speed and convenience of Amazon, Walmart, and other retail giants, and deliver a better and faster approach to instant delivery.

So, what is instant delivery, and why is it a must-have for your success as a retailer? 

What is instant delivery?

Instant delivery isn’t a novel concept; many of us have already experienced ultrafast delivery via a quick and easy meal ordered through Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, or whatever your go-to meal delivery app is. 

According to Chris Walk, the Founder and CEO of Omni talk, the idea of instant delivery is based on ‘the universal truth of speed,’ according to which, when given a choice, people will always choose to get something as fast as possible instead of waiting.

Before sub-two-hour delivery entered the game and pushed the reset button on customer expectations, same-day delivery was the fastest delivery option, and 41% of online shoppers happily paid for the service. 

However, unlike same-day delivery, where products can be delivered within 24 hours, instant delivery is an ultrafast delivery that generally happens within two hours or as fast as 15 minutes from the customer’s time of order. 

It is e-commerce fulfillment on overdrive, made faster and better with advancements in e-commerce technology. Instant delivery is very much related to the broader quick commerce model.

Ultrafast delivery businesses like GoPuff and JOKR focus on products meant for immediate consumption that customers frequently want immediately. 

Instant delivery examples you might be familiar with

  • GoPuff – with facilities strategically placed across hundreds of markets, GoPuff maintains an extensive network of driver-partners, allowing it to deliver quickly within 30 minutes. Each brand’s products are sold alongside hundreds of other brands in GoPuff’s own marketplace. 
  • Walmart express delivery – customers get ordered items on their doorsteps in two hours or less. The express delivery is available on many Walmart purchases, including groceries, apparel, electronics, and other essentials.
  • Amazon two-hour – previously just for Prime Now users, two-hour delivery is now available on groceries and many other goods through the Amazon app or website.
  • Instacart delivery – picks and fulfills orders from third-party retailers’ brick and mortar stores in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Ohi instant delivery – Ohi’s hyperlocal micro-fulfillment centers allow direct-to-consumer brands to offer instant delivery in two hours or less.

Instant delivery stats

  • 68% of consumers said fast shipping would lead them to place an online order, according to a February 2021 Digital Commerce 360 survey. (Digital Commerce 360).
  • Around 61% of Nielson IQ’s latest survey participants said they would like to have their orders delivered as fast as possible.(Supermarket News)
  • Meanwhile, 65% of shoppers in another study said they would be willing to pay more for faster and more reliable deliveries. (Business Wire)
  • 55% of customers on average will switch to a competitor that offers faster delivery service. (RetailWire)
  • According to Ohi’s analysis, two-hour delivery is associated with 61% higher repeat purchase rates. (Ohi)
  • 85% of consumers in a study said they search elsewhere for better options when delivery speeds are too slow. (Flexe)
  • The same study also revealed that one of the top two reasons for shopping cart abandonment is that delivery speeds weren’t fast enough. (Flexe)
  • In addition, a 2021 global consumer insights survey conducted by PWC also shows that fast delivery is shoppers’ #1 overall consideration when buying online (ranked top three by 41% of respondents). (PWC)

How does instant delivery work?

Customers and retailers alike love a lightning-quick delivery service. But, have you ever considered how instant delivery services deliver, say, a carton of milk or a pack of sodas so fast?

There are a few different ways instant delivery platforms could operate to deliver your products to your customer’s doorstep in less than two hours. Instant delivery platforms and marketplaces can either run their own dark stores/fulfillment centers or fulfill orders from third-party retailers’ existing brick and mortar stores. Once a shopper places their order, they are fulfilled at the closest fulfillment center or third-party retail store by workers (“pickers”) and delivered by local couriers, often on bikes/scooters.

 Here’s a quick rundown of different models:

1. Vertically-integrated instant delivery model, i.e., GoPuff

In this model, instant delivery platforms like Jokr and GoPuff pick the ordered products from their dark stores or MFCs to deliver typically within 10–30 minutes.

Technicalities could vary; however, here are a few salient features of a vertically-integrated model:

  • These marketplaces run their own first-party MFCs, typically one in each neighborhood, similar to dark stores.
  • Employees pick up orders, and couriers deliver them.
  • Running the first-part MFCs is also less expensive compared to the hefty cost of renting space in retail stores.
  • Following a customer’s order, workers (called “pickers”) fill it at the appropriate micro-fulfillment facility, and a local courier (typically on a scooter or bike) fulfills it.

2. Third-party delivery platforms, i.e., Instacart  

These delivery platforms function on an “asset-light” model. For these platforms to operate, they don’t need to set up fulfillment centers, purchase inventories, or establish supplier relationships before expanding to a new city. Compared to the other two models, these are also far easier to scale. 

  • These delivery businesses do not need fulfillment centers or dark stores to operate. 
  • They pick products and deliver them directly from third-party physical retail stores. 
  • After an order is placed, a personal shopper goes to the store (or multiple stores) to pick up everything, then delivers it to you at your doorstep (typically within an hour or two).

3. Direct-to-consumer delivery model, i.e., Ohi 

This model is specifically for DTC brands or e-commerce retailers that are looking to add a DTC channel. The direct-to-consumer (D2C) instant delivery providers like Ohi provide instant delivery and micro-fulfillment solutions specifically for DTC sellers or e-commerce businesses looking to set up a DTC channel.

Although this model sounds very similar to the vertically-integrated model, they have some dissimilarities. 

  • For instance, under the DTC model, customers will place orders directly on a brand’s DTC website, rather than on a marketplace website/app.
  • The instant delivery service takes care of the back-end order fulfillment functions.
  • These services have dedicated MFCs hyperlocal to the consumer, enabling instant delivery for their clients.
  • In addition to the above, instant delivery platforms like Ohi use eco-friendly transportation for last-mile delivery.

For many direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands, pairing with an instant delivery provider like Ohi is the only viable option to meet their online customers’ demands and stand toe-to-toe with Walmart and Amazon when it comes to delivery speed. The reason is that many DTC-focused businesses lack the network of retail stores needed to pull off instant delivery on their own. That’s where Ohi’s DTC-focused website integrations, micro-fulfillment network, and post-purchase experience centered on instant delivery come into play.  

Here’s how Ohi’s quick delivery works:

Instant delivery vs. traditional 3PLs

All this instant delivery talk begs the question, how are instant delivery platforms different from third-party logistics companies? 

Instant delivery and traditional 3PLs are poles apart in terms of delivery speed, transportation, and approaches to warehousing. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between quick delivery and traditional third-party logistics.

  • Instant delivery typically relies on micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) positioned within densely populated areas, enabling ultrafast deliveries, i.e., within 15 minutes to two hours after placing an order. Whereas traditional 3PLs deliver in 3 to 5 days, their fastest expedited delivery is typically two-day or the next day.
  • Traditional 3PLs rely on massive warehouses, typically as large as 300,000 square feet. On the other hand, instant delivery platforms rely on micro-fulfillment centers that are much smaller – usually 2,000 to 5,000 square feet – located hyperlocal to customers in the densely-populated areas of major cities.
  • Another difference is the form of delivery chosen for the last mile. For transportation, traditional 3PLs rely on bigger delivery vehicles, since orders are delivered in huge batches owing to the increased travel distance. However, because of the vastly reduced distance between MFCs and the end customer, instant delivery providers often use eco-friendly two-wheeled vehicles such as bikes, e-bikes, or scooters.
  • Depending on the size of the business, a typical e-commerce store may have 15,000 or more SKUs. Amazon, for example, has the potential to store about 350 million SKUs, including both fast-moving and slow-moving items. On the other hand, Instant delivery services rely on micro-fulfillment facilities with a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 SKUs (total SKU count for all brands within the MFCs) of typically fast-moving items.

Types of businesses instant delivery works best for?

While it’s true that instant delivery has opened up a lot of doors to brands that couldn’t otherwise offer the convenience and speed of two hours or less delivery, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Here are three factors to help you determine if instant delivery is the right fit for your business:  

1. Brands that have a higher-order volume and lower SKU count 

Instant delivery is a good fit for products with a high order volume or products that sell fast and have a lower SKU count. As instant delivery providers rely on micro-fulfillment centers, a larger SKU count would reduce shelf space, therefore, it is ideal for fast-moving consumer goods.  

With the localized nature of MFCs, instant delivery doesn’t lend itself particularly well to highly specialized items like bespoke crafts, artisan goods, or customized products.

2. Brands that sell consumables or products that are needed right away

Instant delivery works well for products that customers want or need on an urgent basis. Products including food, beverages, beauty, personal hygiene, fem-care, or home-testing kits – the kind of products your customers might find at a local convenience store or pharmacy – are ideal for instant delivery.

3. Brands with non-bulky items 

Delivering bulky items such as large electronics or furniture is far from possible on a bike or scooter, which is the mode of transportation for many instant delivery businesses.

In addition, 15 minutes or two-hour or less delivery services use localized micro-fulfillment centers with a smaller storage capacity. Hence, it would be pointless to cram the smaller space with bulky goods that won’t turn fast.

For this reason, instant delivery works best for non-bulky products that can be packed and shipped quickly without a lot of manpower or special handling. This means that a carton of milk or a can of soda can be delivered with instant delivery; however, bulky items such as furniture, large electronics like TVs, and larger appliances are a no-go.

So, does instant delivery makes sense for your e-commerce business? 

Benefits of instant delivery

1. Cut down on delivery time and last-mile costs

The longer an order has to travel to get to the customer’s doorstep, the more chances for things to go wrong in that last mile, such as order mixups, traffic jams, and other delays.

As opposed to traditional 3PLs, instant delivery companies can get goods into the hands of customers in a relatively short time. As quick commerce businesses like Ohi rely on micro-fulfillment, the last-mile transportation times and costs are reduced considerably, making it more feasible to offer two-hour or less delivery. This converts to a positive post-purchase experience, enhanced consumer satisfaction, and a significant return on investment for e-commerce businesses.

3. Ensure operational excellence  

Instant delivery platforms like Ohi use modern technologies (including AI or machine learning forecasts) to provide your DTC with inventory accuracy and on-time delivery rates that outperform the conventional third-party logistics providers. Platforms like Ohi also integrate with various last-mile delivery providers to make sure your customers get fast and efficient delivery that translates into higher customer happiness and fewer or zero CX support inquiries on late/missing deliveries.

3. Potential for brands to be sustainable

According to Shopify, consumers demand fast, free, and sustainable delivery at checkout. In addition, nearly 72% of customers want brands they shop at to use sustainable packaging. According to another study, around 80% of customers say sustainability is essential. 

Not only does an instant delivery solution have the potential to meet your customers’ sustainability demands, but as mentioned earlier, it can also translate into better delivery and post-purchase experience as well. 

As instant delivery platforms rely on hyperlocal micro-fulfillment centers, there is very little reliance on fuel-based transportation or wasteful exterior packaging materials, which together minimize your brand’s carbon footprint.

Instant delivery providers like Ohi enable their partner brands to offer carbon-neutral delivery to their eco-conscious customers.

Instant delivery is transitioning from a nice-to-have to a must-have

Simply put, two-day and next-day delivery is not fast enough for the modern consumer. Therefore, growth-minded e-commerce retailers are increasingly considering methods of enabling instant delivery, as this is a proven strategy to improve their customer experience and enable enhanced customer acquisition and retention.


About Ohi

At Ohi, we’ve flipped the script for e-commerce fulfillment, transforming it from what is traditionally seen as a cost center into a growth engine. Brands join the Ohi platform to deliver powerfully fast, brand-focused, and memorable post-purchase experiences that enable them to grow. Want to learn more about how Ohi enables instant commerce? Get in touch today.

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