Need It Fast? Here Are the Top 5 Places You Can Get Same-Day Delivery

Need something right away but don’t want to brave the crowds at the store, or have a hectic schedule and can’t make a run to the store? 

For those of us who crave instant gratification, these five same-day delivery services have combined the ease of online ordering with the immediacy of brick-and-mortar shopping.

Whether it’s a special occasion gift you’re looking for or you just need to restock your pantry, these 5 same-day delivery providers deliver near you and have you covered with quick and efficient same-day delivery service.

Note: If you’re an FMCG merchant, this article offers valuable insights and includes a separate section on how to empower customers with the convenience of same-day delivery in a business-friendly way while boosting sales conversions and increasing customer satisfaction.

Before We Begin, What Exactly is Same-Day Delivery?

It’s an e-commerce service that delivers a wide range of products, including tech gadgets and personal care items, within 24 hours. Same-day delivery is a popular trend in the industry, with over half of retailers currently offering it and many more planning to do so in the near future.

In fact, over half (51%) of retailers currently offer same-day delivery, and 65% intend to do so in the upcoming 12 months. (source)

Top 5 Places Shoppers Can Get Same-Day Delivery in the US 

1. Instacart

If you regularly order groceries online, you’re probably already familiar with Instacart. It partners with several large grocery store chains and offers same-day delivery in a number of cities.

The company has a network of personal shoppers who will shop for you from more than 500 stores across the nation and deliver your purchases. You can have Instacart deliver to you from any number of grocery stores in your area, like Shop Rite or Tops Markets, or from other retailers such as Michaels, Bed Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods, Costco, Petco, etc. 

Once you’ve placed your order, you can select when you would like it delivered by choosing a specific time that day or having your order delivered within a range of hours.

i. Perks for Shoppers

Membership Fee: Instacart+ members get free delivery on orders over $35 or more per retailer. 

Delivery Fee: Instacart delivery starts at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. 

Fees vary for one-hour deliveries, club store deliveries, and deliveries under $35. There will be a clear indication of the delivery fee when you choose your delivery window at checkout.

All orders must be at least $10 to be eligible for delivery.

ii. Perks for Retailers

By jumping on the Instacart bandwagon, online or omnichannel merchants can reach a wider audience of customers who would not otherwise make purchases from their retailer-branded websites. 

With Instacart, retailers can get their products to market quickly, save on costs, and expand their customer base. 

Once you integrate your inventory into the Instacart platform, customers will be able to place orders for same-day delivery from the retailer’s inventory through the Instacart app or website.

Here’s something to be wary of: 

  • Instacart receives a commission every time a product is sold through its platform. It does so through a revenue-sharing agreement it has with its retailers. The actual amount is determined by the agreement reached with the retailer.

Learn more about partnering with Instacart here.

2. Amazon 

Amazon has forever changed the way we shop online, becoming a necessary part of our daily lives. If you’re looking to get your items delivered the same day, you can enjoy the Amazon Prime service, which is available in select cities and regions across the US. 

However, to be eligible for same-day delivery, you have to have an Amazon Prime membership and place your order before the specified cutoff time for your area.

i. Perks for Shoppers

Membership fee: Orders over $35 that include items marked “FREE Same-Day” are delivered free to Prime members; orders under $35 are charged a $2.99 delivery fee. 

The cost of a monthly Prime membership is $12.99 ($6.49 for students), while an annual Prime membership costs $119 ($59 for students).

Non-Prime members have to pay $9.99 to $12.99 per order. 

ii. Perks for Retailers

Selling on Amazon automatically gives you credibility as a seller. You also get free promotional ad clicks, free shipping to fulfillment centers, free storage, free liquidation, and free return processing.

One of the biggest advantages of having a presence on Amazon is the vast customer base it offers. By selling on Amazon, companies can reach a much larger audience than they would be able to on their own.

3. Ohi

Ohi is an instant delivery platform that enables same-day delivery by working with a diverse category of brands. Customers can place an order with a partner brand and receive it the same day, or within two hours if it’s urgent. 

i. Perks for Shoppers

‘Fast, free, and flexible’: One of the most significant benefits for shoppers is the availability of “fast, free, and flexible” shipping options on e-commerce platforms, which include 2-hour delivery, scheduled same-day delivery, next-day delivery, and nationwide delivery through a vast network of last-mile delivery partners and DSPs.

The cost for same-day delivery varies by brand, but, in general, many brands offer it for free. At the minimum, brands will offer it free over a cart threshold (usually $50-60). 

ii. Perks for Retailers

Unlike other models mentioned here, with Ohi, merchants don’t have to have a physical store to be able to enable same-day delivery. That’s the beauty of Ohi’s plug-and-play instant delivery model and technology. It easily integrates with your e-commerce website on a smorgasbord of platforms, including Shopify, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, etc. 

The Ohi platform offers cost-efficient same-day delivery in as little as two hours by integrating the advantages of micro-fulfillment, omnichannel e-commerce, and technology. This solution can improve your conversion rates and provide a positive customer experience.

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

4. Walmart

Walmart offers same-day delivery on a wide range of products, including groceries, household essentials, and electronics. Customers can place their orders online or through the Walmart app and choose from several delivery options, including same-day delivery. The service is available in select areas and is subject to availability. 

Note that Walmart delivery is different from regular shipping, as items are filled and delivered from local stores—that’s how they get them to you the same day.

i. Perks for Shoppers

Membership Fee: Walmart+ membership costs $98 per year or about $13 a month.

With a Walmart+ membership, you’ll be eligible for free delivery on orders over $35.

Delivery Fee: $7.95 to $9.95, but if you’re a Walmart+ member, you get free delivery on orders over $35. For orders under $35, there is a flat delivery fee of $5.99.

They let you try it for free, for 30 days.

ii. Perks for Retailers

Despite the fact that the Walmart Marketplace did not launch until 2009, has long been a virtual extension of the well-known physical Walmart stores. This allowed third-party sellers to sell on the platform, supplementing the existing offerings from first-party brands.

Walmart Marketplace uses a straightforward, simple pricing structure and charges no setup or monthly fees.

  • You can select the carriers, shipping price, and shipping method when you set up your seller profile in Seller Center.
  • And enjoy ZERO monthly or set-up fees for Walmart Marketplace.

Check it out here

5. Shipt 

Founded in 2014, Shipt has become a household name, bringing all your local stores to your doorstep. Similar to Instacart, Shipt is a one-stop shop for all your shopping needs. It is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Target Corp.

With Shipt, you will have access to a variety of stores and product categories, including fresh foods, household essentials, wellness products, and office and pet supplies. 

i. Perks for Shoppers

Delivery Fee: If you have a monthly or annual Shipt Everyday membership, you get free delivery on orders over $35! 

Orders under $35 for these memberships will have a flat $7 delivery fee added to your total to assist with picking, packaging, and processing your order.

Shipt membership: $10.99/month or $99/year

ii. Perks for Retailers

Shipt Marketplace has added more than 1,000 stores to its same-day delivery service and 2 million more households to its coverage area providing retailers with a convenient way to expand their customer base and increase sales.

Learn more about partnering with Shipt here

Bonus: Shopping plug-ins to help you save money on your next haul

1. Honey automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click.

2. Piggyoffers coupon codes and cash back for your purchases, so you can double up on the savings.

3. CheckmateCoupons from your email inbox and the Web are automatically applied.

4. Ibotta The Ibotta browser extension will calculate and show you the net price of an item after earning cash back. 

5. Waldo AI that gets you money back when prices drop. Waldo works with over 100+ brands, including Amazon, Patagonia, Best Buy, and Nordstrom

How can online retailers enable same-day delivery? 

Retailers can offer same-day delivery to their customers by using a variety of strategies, such as:

1. Setting up fulfillment centers in key locations to facilitate quick delivery and utilizing their own fleet of vehicles for delivery.

Retailers can set up fulfillment using their own resources to provide same-day delivery in several ways, such as:

  • Setting up a micro-fulfillment center: Retailers can set up a small warehouse or fulfillment center close to their customers, which can be used to store products and fulfill same-day delivery orders.
  • Utilizing existing stores: Retailers can use their existing stores as fulfillment centers, which can help them to fulfill same-day delivery orders quickly and efficiently.
  • Utilizing a fleet of delivery vehicles: Retailers can use their own delivery vehicles to deliver products to customers on the same day.
  • Optimizing inventory: Retailers can optimize their inventory by keeping fast-moving products close to customers, which can help them to fulfill same-day delivery orders quickly.
  • Training staff: Retailers need to train their staff to handle same-day delivery orders. This includes training employees on how to pick, pack, and ship orders quickly, and how to handle any issues that may arise during the delivery process.
  • Automating processes: Retailers can automate processes like order processing, inventory management, and delivery tracking to make same-day delivery more efficient.
  • Partnering with local carriers: Retailers can partner with local carriers for delivery, which can help them to reduce delivery costs and improve delivery times.
  • Implementing technology: Retailers can use technology like automated warehouse management systems, route optimization software, and real-time delivery tracking to streamline their same-day delivery operations.

If you do the math, this method is obviously not without costs. So, is there a more cost-effective way to enable same-day delivery to drive incremental sales? 

2. Partnering with technology platform providers such as Ohi

By teaming up with technology platform providers like Ohi, you can unlock the full potential of your business, improve customer satisfaction, boost conversion rates, and increase customer retention.

How is this strategy more business-friendly?

  • Not only will it spare you the costly and tedious process of setting up your own fulfillment centers, but it also frees you from the various expenses and responsibilities of the first option. 
  • Technology providers like Ohi rely on modern-day fulfillment solutions that use 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.

Same-day delivery stats

  • 56% of online consumers between the age of 18-34 years expect to have same-day delivery. Whereas 61% of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery. (source)
  • 96% of customers consider “fast delivery” to mean same-day delivery. (source)
  • More than 25% of shoppers would abandon a cart online if same-day shipping wasn’t available. (source)

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.

5 E-commerce Trends that will Define 2023

2022 was a wild ride! 

Despite the headwinds, US online retail sales hit $735.12 billion (in the 3rd quarter of 2022), and as per a study by eMarketer and Statista, e-commerce sales will reach a phenomenal $6.51 trillion by 2023. (source

E-commerce is unquestionably here for the keeps. Much of the growth we’ll witness this year will likely be driven by the customer’s appetite for connected and seamless experiences, fast delivery, social shopping, etc.  

So, with the calendar turned to 2023, it is crucial for businesses to stay abreast of the e-commerce trends that will set the course for the year.

Here’s a roundup of the hottest trends and topics to help online merchants fortify their strategies and stay on top of their game. 

1. Providing a consistent, seamless omnichannel retail experience will be a bleeding edge in 2023.   

In 2023, frictionless ‘phygital’ retail experiences will pick up steam because customer journeys are no longer linear. Shoppers now engage with brands and shop across a multitude of channels in various ways. 

And they want to be able to move seamlessly between these channels, whether it’s in-store, online, or a combo of both. 

Data from McKinsey shows that omnichannel customers shop 1.7 times more than single-channel shoppers—and they also spend more.

In 2023, brands that provide their customers the best of both worlds will have a competitive advantage over those that stick solely to traditional retail or a singular channel. 

Major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are already maximizing omnichannel retail to provide a seamless and consistent experience. Even smaller retailers are getting in on the action. 

Here are a few ways retailers can enhance the shopping experience through a connected, seamless retail experience: 

  • By offering mobile-specific features such as personalized product recommendations or location-based offers
  • Integrating features such as in-store pickup for online orders, the ability to return online purchases in-store, and delivery speed for both online and in-store 

For instance, Walmart enables same-day delivery on its website as well as in-store. You can order online and pick up your order in-store. 

  • Using data analytics and AI/ML to better understand customer behavior and preferences and to personalize the shopping experience 
  • Offering 24/7 live chat support, personalized assistance via email or SMS, or other services to help customers throughout the shopping journey
  • Making sure that the inventory is accurately reflected across all channels to avoid frustrating customers with out-of-stock items or incorrect availability information
  • Offering same delivery and pickup options across every channel to give customers flexibility and convenience

2. E-commerce sales in 2023 will be significantly driven by mobile commerce.

Smartphones are a go-to option for most shoppers, whether it’s browsing for products, making purchases, or tracking their orders, etc.  

Factors like social commerce catching on and more brands enabling mobile-first experiences will drive mobile commerce sales to $4.5 trillion, or 69.9% of total retail e-commerce sales.

Let’s dive into the details to picture this trend better.

a) Growth of social commerce 

Do you know how much time an average user spends on any of the top 5 social platforms? two and a half hours per day. 

Initially, social media platforms served as a place for shoppers to window-shop. But within the last couple of years, the major social platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and now TikTok have expanded their in-app shopping options, making in-stream commerce a bigger focus. 

“But are consumers actually buying products while browsing social media?”

  • About 1 million users regularly buy from Facebook Shops every month. (Statista)

And, if not experienced, we’ve all heard or skim-read about live selling. Although the US live-selling market is still in its infancy, with major players like Walmart, Nordstrom, and Macy’s experimenting with live shopping on their websites, it is expected to hit $25 billion in 2023.

So, whether you decide to sell directly through social media or not, these channels should not be overlooked in your e-commerce strategy in 2023.

b) The ease of buying that comes with mobile-first experiences & personalization

Mobile is changing the way we shop. The evolution of mobile-first and personalization features like one-click checkout, BOPIS, personalized recommendations, scheduleable delivery options, and mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay, PayPal One-Touch, Visa Checkout, Amazon Pay, and Venmo have made mobile shopping more convenient and accessible compared to a few years ago. 

Mobile devices now make up 71% of all retail traffic, and they generate 61% of online shopping orders. (Statista.)

That’s substantial growth! 

3. Delivery speed and delivery certainty remain a top priority for shoppers.

Whether customers shop in-store or online, they want convenience, speed, and certainty—a behavioral shift caused by Amazon during the pandemic. And this isn’t changing in 2023. 

  •  According to a study by Digital Commerce 360, 80% of online shoppers in the US want same-day shipping options. 
  • Meanwhile, in another study, nearly 70% of consumers said the ability to track orders was one of their top three considerations when buying a product online, and 56% said it was a top consideration when ordering a luxury item. 

Consumers have come to expect quick and efficient delivery of their online purchases, and companies that are able to offer fast delivery options will have an advantage over those that do not.

Fast and convenient delivery options are also proven to boost conversions for businesses. ROI data from Ohi’s analysis of partner brands highlights that brands that delivered orders fast with Ohi’s same-day and two-hour delivery had 30% higher repeat purchase rates than standard UPS/FedEx. 

Here are a few ways businesses can enable fast fulfillment: 

  • Streamline their fulfillment processes by investing in new technologies and micro-fulfillment. (Setting up a distributed network of MFCs is not without challenges. And most businesses simply don’t have the time or budget to manage all this on their own.) 
  • The other way is to partner with a reliable instant commerce partner such as Ohi to ensure that orders are delivered fast, on time, and in good condition. Learn more here.

4. Sustainability will be on your customers’ shopping list. 

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts of their purchases, and this trend will likely influence the e-commerce landscape in 2023. 

A February 2022 survey of 16,000 global consumers found that 51% of people say environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was 12 months ago. (source)

As more customers begin to demand sustainable products and delivery methods, we will see more businesses invest in sustainability. Top brands, including IKEA, Nike, Patagonia, Ralph Lauren, Lululemon, and Chanel, are already taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices.

A 2022 Gartner survey of CEOs found that about 20% of CEOs and other high-level business leaders are also prioritizing social responsibility and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in their organizations. This is the highest it has been in the past 10 years. (source)

Here are some ways businesses can be more sustainable:

  • Sell products made with more sustainable materials.
  • Invest in more eco-friendly packaging materials.
  • Allow shoppers to choose more eco-friendly shipping options such as Ohi’s sustainable instant delivery. It’s green and sustainable, because products are delivered via foot couriers or electric scooters from our distributed network of MFCs, located closer to customers.  

Moreover, Ohi deliveries were shown to be 22x more eco-friendly than next-day air and 5x more sustainable than 3-5 day ground. (Stanford Study)

  • Make it easy for people to recycle items, i.e., Nike’s sustainable and recycled shoes are a great example.
Puma launched ‘Clever Little Bag’ to replace the traditional shoebox, using 65% less cardboard. (source: the packaging cookbook)

5. Post-purchase experience will be a linchpin for brands. 

Make the customer the hero of your story. — Ann Handley

Most brands are so focused on increasing sales conversions that they completely neglect the post-purchase phase of the buyer’s journey. The post-purchase phase is where you make your customers fall in love with your brand and make a repeat purchase.   

Because 91% of customers say they won’t do business again with a brand that left them unhappy. (source)

By focusing on the following elements of the post-purchase experience, online retailers can create a happy and satisfying shopping experience for their customers:

  • Easy and convenient return and exchange policies
  • Providing timely and accurate order tracking and delivery updates
  • 24/7 customer support, and live chat features
  • Personalized communication and follow-up
  • Options for fast and schedulable delivery or pickup in store
  • Sustainable packaging of products
  • Include user-friendly product instructions and documentation within packaging and send out via email. 
  • Ask for feedback via email, SMS, or phone call 

In 2023’s competitive e-commerce landscape, a powerful post-purchase experience will be pivotal for merchants to differentiate themselves from their competitors as well as attract new customers. Nothing works like word-of-mouth marketing. 

In 2023, It’s Go Big or Go Home.

In the end, it all boils down to customers. By understanding and analyzing customer behavior, retailers can tailor their marketing and sales strategies to better meet the needs and preferences of their target audience. This, in turn, will help drive e-commerce growth, increasing customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and overall sales.

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.

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. 

2022 Last Day to Ship
2021 Last Day to Ship
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
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 Ground®
Check for details.
Check 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 deliveries in Ohi metro areas, due to hyperlocal micro-fulfillment centers
  • ‘Pay as you go’ monthly storage fees
  • Fewer 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.