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Checklist: How to Create the Ultimate E-Commerce “Post-Purchase Experience”

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Increasing retention rates by just 5% can increase profits more than 25% in some markets. (source: Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company)

In e-commerce, optimizing the “post-purchase experience” – or what happens after checkout – is critical to turning first-time customers to repeat buyers, growing order frequency and AOV, and subsequently reducing operating costs.

Download our checklist to understand best practices relating to:

  • How to set up post-sale communication/engagement
  • How to create a delightful delivery experience 
  • How to offer a high-end customer service and support 
  • How to win customers with gifts and incentives

Ohi Partners with Recharge to Offer Faster and More Flexible Subscription Delivery

New York, NY, and Santa Monica, CA (June 9, 2022)Ohi, the next-generation instant commerce platform that enables brands to meet their customers’ expectations of superfast delivery in under two hours, today announced that it has partnered with Recharge, the leader in subscription e-commerce, to offer faster and more flexible subscription deliveries. The integration will enable the more than 15,000 brands that use Recharge to partner with Ohi to offer an even better user experience to their customers in all 12 major metro areas Ohi serves.

Recharge and Ohi brand partners will now be able to reduce subscriber churn by positioning inventory closer to customers’ doorsteps across a nationwide network of micro-fulfillment centers, allowing subscribers to choose a four-hour delivery window, any day of the week, so they can get their subscription order exactly when they want it.

In addition to providing delivery scheduling flexibility and convenience to existing subscribers, brands will also be able to leverage Ohi’s hyperlocal fulfillment services to increase conversion among first-time subscribers by offering ultrafast, two-hour or same-day delivery to customers on their first order.

“Savvy brands know that subscription services can turn occasional and onetime purchasers into long-term, loyal customers and that pairing subscriptions with instant commerce options makes the customer experience even better,” said Ben Jones, Founder and CEO of Ohi. “We’re thrilled to partner with Recharge to fulfill their brand partners’ ultrafast local delivery needs and enhance their subscription offerings with our seamless and convenient post-purchase experience.”

“We’re committed to helping our merchants accelerate their growth through subscriptions, which turn transactions into deeper and more meaningful customer relationships,” said Leya Leydiker, Director of Technology Partnerships at Recharge. “With this integration, we’re helping brands cost-effectively elevate their subscription services by utilizing Ohi’s nationwide network of micro-fulfillment centers. Our merchants can now reduce their shipping costs and operate more sustainably by positioning inventory closer to their subscribers in major metro areas, so they can meet their customers’ scheduling needs, even last-minute.”

Ohi enables brands to offer best-in-class post-purchase experiences while maintaining control of their brand story, data and customer relationships. The company’s inventory and order management platform provides item-level demand intelligence that lets brands optimally position inventory across Ohi’s network of micro-fulfillment centers, closer to their end customers’ doorsteps. Ohi supports more sustainable e-commerce operations by using reusable, environmentally friendly packaging and offering a carbon-neutral fulfillment option to its brand partners and their customers.

For more information, visit Ohi.com.

About Ohi

Ohi is the leading instant commerce solution for direct-to-consumer and enterprise brands looking to grow their business by enabling powerful post-purchase experiences. Leveraging its proprietary, data-driven inventory management technology and robust micro-warehousing platform to forward position inventory within city centers, Ohi enables brands to offer a premium, environmentally responsible, instant or scheduled delivery experience to their customers.

About Recharge

Recharge is the leading subscription management solution, helping ecommerce merchants of all sizes launch and scale subscription offerings. Recharge’s subscription billing and payment management solutions are designed to help merchants grow by increasing revenue and customer lifetime value while reducing operating costs and churn. Today, Recharge powers subscriptions for more than 50 million subscribers across 15,000 merchants, including fast-growing brands such as Verve Coffee, Bokksu, Who Gives A Crap, Keap Candles, Geologie and Bumpin Blends. Recharge is a remote-first company with more than 500 team members across 15 countries. For more information, visit https://rechargepayments.com/  

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For Ohi:

press@ohi.com

For Recharge:

press@rechargeapps.com

A Straightforward Guide to E-commerce Order Fulfillment

In the world of online retail, your customer experience must be smooth and consistent, especially when it comes to your order fulfillment—the process of delivering your product to your customer. 

Next-day and same-day delivery-once an option that e-commerce stores could choose to offer -is now an expectation in online shopping rather than the exception. Fast delivery is no longer enough, today’s online shoppers now want instant delivery. 70% of e-commerce customers say convenience is one of their top reasons for shopping online. 41% of customers are willing to pay for same-day delivery.  

It follows that a key to any successful e-commerce business is fast and efficient e-commerce order fulfillment services.

Whether you’re trying to set up a new online e-commerce platform or just improving your existing operations, this easy-to-read guide explains everything you need to know about e-commerce order fulfillment.

From the process of fulfilling an order to order fulfillment success strategies and everything in between, we’ll walk you through the basics of e-commerce order fulfillment to keep your customers coming back, boost your brand reputation, and give your business a competitive edge. 

What is e-commerce order fulfillment?

E-commerce order fulfillment is an essential e-commerce business process that incorporates the entire process of receiving, processing, packing, and delivering goods to a customer. It begins from the moment a customer places an order on an e-commerce platform/website and ends when they physically receive their order. 

In certain cases when a customer seeks an exchange or reimbursement of the items, the return process also becomes a part of the order fulfillment process.  

Some retailers and companies take care of the entire fulfillment of orders in-house, while others use a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to shoulder some of the burdens. There is also the option to outsource your order fulfillment to a micro-fulfillment provider like Ohi, to enable two-hour, same-day, and next-day delivery in key metro areas.

What are the steps in e-commerce fulfillment process?

Your e-commerce fulfillment process is something that should be streamlined and optimized to get your orders from the warehouse to your customers’ doorstep as quickly as possible. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all order fulfillment strategy, the broader steps that a product moves through within the order fulfillment process are very similar, regardless of the company size or type.

1. Receiving inventory 

The first step in the e-commerce order fulfillment process is the retailer receiving their products at a nominated distribution location. 

This can either mean receiving the goods first-hand at your place of business or outsourcing to a 3PL provider to manage to receive the stock at an external storage location such as a warehouse or a fulfillment center. 

You also have the option of joining a micro-fulfillment center network, which can work very well if you’re a DTC brand with an urban client base. In this scenario, you can inject inventory into the network at one or more hubs, which are traditional distribution centers that then handle the transfer of your inventory throughout the micro-fulfillment center network (and into all major cities).

2. Inventory storage

This refers to the location when and where orders are logged into inventory and stored ready to be filled.

Ideally, each item must have a Stock-Keeping Unit (SKU) identification code associated with specific storage space. This space can be as small as a spare room or as large as a warehouse, depending on the size of the business and its merchandise. 

Well-managed, organized, easy-to-access inventory storage is essential to the process of e-commerce order fulfillment to mitigate delays in customers receiving their goods.

3. Order processing

Once the customer completes their online transaction, the order is received and processed by the retailer’s e-commerce platform, ready to be filled at the storage facility.

This stage of order fulfillment includes item selection, packing the product/s suitably for transit (including choosing the right packaging to minimize costs and damage), and preparing the order for shipment. 

A few considerations to ensure smooth order processing are:

  • Accuracy: Small mistakes in your order can quickly snowball into logistical disasters or customer disputes that go from bad to worse. Keeping your inventory in fulfillment centers that are close to your customers is helpful here, especially for enabling instant delivery.
  • Supply chain visibility: Knowing how your orders are selected and packed before shipping can help you identify bottlenecks in the fulfillment process.
  • Packaging: Amazon sellers are instructed to select the right kind of packaging for their products, but this applies to e-commerce fulfillment in general. Choosing the right boxes and packing materials can help ensure your orders arrive in good condition. For example, any fragile or hazardous materials need to be identified and given clear, corresponding labels indicating they need special handling. If you are using micro-fulfillment (such as Ohi’s instant commerce solution), you may need little or no exterior protective packaging, since orders only need to travel a short distance to the end customer.

4. Shipping

At this stage, the order leaves the storage location and is shipped to the customer via a variety of methods of transportation. 

Small businesses usually opt to ship their orders via services like UPS or FedEx. Larger brands and e-commerce companies with the resources to do so have access to a wider variety of shipping methods, or often choose to partner with micro-fulfillment services like Ohi, to ensure that each order is accurate and arrives quickly, which can drive increased conversions and improve customer loyalty.

Shipping logistics are a crucial element in the e-commerce order fulfillment process. A 2018 study showed that 83% of US shoppers said that free delivery/shipping was their most important deciding factor when ordering online. The study also showed that shipping costs are a major factor in customers’ online shopping cart abandonment, whereby 54% of shoppers did not proceed with their order because of e-commerce delivery fees.

97% of online shoppers want full transparency when their orders are shipped, including live updates at each step, from when it leaves the fulfillment center to when it’s dropped off. It minimizes the anxiety they have about their orders going wrong – and practically the worst thing you can tell a customer when they ask you how their order went missing is “I don’t know.”

Integrating live-tracking and giving customers SMS and email updates when their order gets loaded onto the delivery vehicle leaves the fulfillment center, starts its transit, and arrives at their location gives them confidence in your brand and makes it more likely they’ll have a positive experience and possibly even leave a positive review for you. It also reduces the burden on your customer service team because it reduces the margin for error that causes complaints and disputes to happen. 

Be sure to also keep your messaging consistent with your live-tracking updates and overall brand guidelines—it’s an essential part of your post-purchase experience.

5. Returns processing

When you are considering your e-commerce order fulfillment process, it is advisable to plan beyond the shipping stage and consider customer exchanges, returns, and reimbursements, too.

A fast, accurate, and hassle-free process for dealing with returns, restocking, and discarding of damaged items, as well as customer refunds, must be established as part of your online order fulfillment service.

This need is inherent in almost every e-commerce business. It’s how you manage it that will make all the difference.

Types of e-commerce order fulfillment

There are a few different ways in which to manage your e-commerce order fulfillment. We’ve outlined some of the most popular here.

Third-party logistics (3PL) 

Many third-party logistics providers will handle the warehousing, packing, shipping, and even return steps of the order fulfillment process for e-commerce businesses.

As businesses grow, outsourcing order fulfillment becomes necessary to ensure all online orders are fulfilled to meet customer expectations.

Using a third-party fulfillment service also tends to speed up order fulfillment as many of these companies use automation technology to complete the process faster than manual completion. Shopify acquired 3PL provider Deliverr this year to simplify their inventory management and offer two-day and next-day shipping for this reason. Similar services from other providers can offer DTC e-commerce brands reliable nationwide order fulfillment capabilities, which they can later augment with instant delivery services (for faster delivery to end customers) via providers such as Ohi.

Micro-fulfillment

Micro-fulfillment involves the strategic placement of smaller-style storage facilities in densely populated areas, or near your target market demographic.

Online shopping and e-commerce platforms are driving the micro-fulfillment center trend, allowing e-commerce brands to forward-position their inventory closer to their customers’ geographic location, reducing the cost of transportation and offering their customers instant delivery.

Ohi specializes in enabling instant delivery for direct-to-consumer brands via micro-fulfillment on its platform of micro-fulfillment centers.

In-house fulfillment

This is a popular approach for larger businesses and e-commerce brands that have the resources to do all their fulfillment themselves, in their own spaces, and within their own management. Doing order fulfillment in-house gives you a higher degree of control over your logistics, but also requires that you store and process your orders yourself.

However, doing your own fulfillment in-house can be very resource-intensive and is therefore beyond the ability of many e-commerce brands to execute. In-house fulfillment requires an extensive network of brick-and-mortar stores and distribution centers (if delivery speed is a priority) and the personnel to ensure reliable and accurate order processing.

Dropshipping

In dropshipping, most of the supply chain process is outsourced for a more hassle-free and hands-off experience. However, you uniquely never actually own the merchandise you are selling.

Dropshipping is when a seller purchases their inventory from a third-party middleman rather than keeping it in stock themselves—they only buy products to fulfill when the customer makes an order. This way, the e-commerce seller doesn’t have to handle the fulfillment logistics themselves. e-commerce stores that make use of dropshipping often work with multiple suppliers to fulfill orders.

Outsourcing your warehousing requires low overhead and smaller upfront investment, but it comes at the expense of losing supply chain visibility and control over the fulfillment process.

How to plan your e-commerce order fulfillment strategy?

To determine which e-commerce order fulfillment process and strategy is going to work best for the nature of your business, there are a few important factors to consider.

Location

To cut shipping costs and keep delivery time to a minimum, it’s advantageous to forward-position your e-commerce order fulfillment centers close to your customers or at least have them in a central location (to ensure consistent, if not fast, delivery speed).

Location is especially important in micro-fulfillment-and it’s also one of its major advantages. 3PL service providers often store inventory in rural areas where warehousing costs are lower. Ideally, DTC e-commerce brands should have access to a national distribution network where they’re able to fulfill their online orders across the country in two days or less.

Delivery time

3-5 day delivery no longer cuts it. We live in an age when customers want their online orders instantly, in minutes rather than days.

In a 2018 study, 53% of shoppers identified speed of delivery as the second most important factor when it came to evaluating online or e-commerce purchases, with 24% canceling their orders due to poor delivery speed.

Customers want their products fast, and because e-commerce order fulfillment begins with the customer placing an order, the management of everything leading up to the delivery phase is just as important as the delivery of the product itself.

Creating a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for any in-house order fulfillment, as well as being clear about any 3PL processes and the estimated timeframes for fulfilling an e-commerce order, can assist in saving time across the board.

With delivery speed being one of the most competitive advantages in the e-commerce order fulfillment industry, it is not surprising that repeat purchase rates tend to be higher for retailers who offer the shortest delivery times.

It’s come to the point where instant delivery is what customers expect, rather than just a nice-to-have option. In the last part of 2020, Target increased its same-day e-commerce fulfillment by 273% over the previous quarter.

To achieve this speed of service, some companies team up with an instant commerce provider like Ohi—we offer businesses the ability to provide instant or next-day delivery that is also carbon-neutral; another big plus for any consumer in our current climate.

Source: ShipperHQ

SKU count 

When devising your e-commerce order fulfillment strategy, you also have to consider how many types of products you sell (your SKU count), and how quickly you can fulfill and ship them.

How many different types of products do you offer? How big or heavy are they? How quickly can you deliver and ship them to the end customer? How quickly does your inventory turn over?

Micro-fulfillment tends to work best with smaller products, smaller inventory variety (and fewer SKUs as a result), and fast-moving inventory.

Customer support

How you support your customers, particularly in an online environment on e-commerce platforms, is central to your order fulfillment strategy’s success. Some things to look out for include:

  • Reply times must be short;
  • Online chat, click-to-call, and SMS text support are preferable;
  • Having an in-app chat is a great way to offer quick support; and
  • Additional and complementary social media customer service is also highly favorable. 

Supply chain tracking

Tracking and managing your supply chain in e-commerce order fulfillment is another important consideration.

The supply chain includes:

  • Suppliers
  • Producers
  • Warehouses
  • Logistical and transportation services. 

Effectively managing the different stages and steps of the supply chain will help you to continue to meet your customers’ ever-evolving expectations. Supply chain management ensures you have all the necessary inventory and logistical means to deliver almost instantaneously and to create an on-brand positive customer experience.

The challenges of e-commerce order fulfillment

Despite the perks that a well-executed e-commerce order fulfillment strategy can bring, several challenges must be addressed within any online order fulfillment strategy. 

Delays in shipping 

Modern consumers expect fast delivery, and where instant delivery is not an option, finding ways to reduce shipping time is the key.

Streamlining your processes and being strategic with your business or warehouse locations are two ways you can do this. In particular, the location of your e-commerce fulfillment centers will dictate how quickly your products can get to your customers.

Most customers also want either free shipping or shipping at a very low cost. This can be achieved by bringing up the price of your products to include the cost of shipping, or by adding free shipping on orders over a certain amount. 

Shopping cart abandonment

The rate of online shoppers abandoning their carts is high, especially when compared with in-store shopping purchases. 

This can be for a variety of reasons, particularly when additional costs are too high (such as shipping), when they’re forced to create a new account, or when your website doesn’t support an adequate variety of payment methods.

One way to combat the high rate of abandoned shopping carts is to create easier online checkout and payment options for consumers. Research suggests that avoiding the requirement for customers to create an account to be able to purchase with you can also reduce cart abandonment on e-commerce platforms.

Source: Feedvisor

Customer service

With the pandemic accelerating the shift to e-commerce and online order fulfillment, the market is much more competitive than it used to be. That means your customer service needs to be spotless for your e-commerce brand to be competitive. 

Creating a positive overall customer experience includes customer service communications options like automated chatbots and a dedicated customer support email.  Having systems like these in place makes ordering from you streamlined and hassle-free, and makes cancellations and returns less likely.

Inefficient returns

Returning orders promptly is just as important to the success of your e-commerce fulfillment as delivering them.

Your fulfillment centers (or at least one of your fulfillment centers or partners) must be able to quickly receive, evaluate, and restock returned goods as well as manage any exchanges that may be required.

Additionally, offering your customers the option of free returns can be a major perk that will help your e-commerce brand stand out.


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.

Ohi Accelerates Expansion with Launch of Ultrafast Delivery in Four New Markets

microfulfillment

Company Grows Its Network of Micro-Fulfillment Centers to Serve Seattle, Philadelphia, Dallas and Austin

NEW YORK–Ohi, the next-generation instant commerce platform that enables brands to meet their customers’ expectations of superfast delivery in under two hours, today announced that it has expanded into four new markets: Seattle, Philadelphia, Dallas and Austin. The company has identified significant demand for ultrafast, hyperlocal delivery of its brand partners’ products in these cities and has grown its network of micro-fulfillment centers to offer quick, convenient delivery options to customers in these areas.

“We’re committed to helping power our brand partners’ growth by providing an excellent, on-brand instant commerce experience that includes quick and convenient delivery options,” said Ben Jones, Founder and CEO of Ohi. “To help our partners reach and convert new customers, and drive loyalty and engagement among their existing customers, we’ve expanded our instant commerce platform into four new markets where our technology has identified exceptional demand for instant commerce.”

With its recent expansion, Ohi now offers instant commerce services in 12 major US metro areas. The company’s inventory and order management platform provides SKU-level demand intelligence that allows its brand partners to optimally position inventory closer to their end customers. Ohi is committed to providing carbon-neutral delivery and its micro-fulfillment centers ensure that e-commerce orders travel only a short distance to arrive at consumers’ doorsteps. Ohi further minimizes its carbon footprint by using reusable, sustainable packaging and bike, e-bike, scooter and foot couriers whenever possible. The company also offers a carbon-neutral e-commerce fulfillment option to its merchant partners and their customers.

“Ohi’s asset-light platform enables us to expand into new markets with minimal overhead costs,” added Jones. “This is just the start of our aggressive expansion strategy that will enable us to provide an instant-commerce experience that covers close to 45% of an e-commerce company’s overall demand by the end of the second quarter.”

Ohi’s instant commerce platform allows brands to offer best-in-class post-purchase experiences while retaining complete control of their brand story, data and customer relationships. For more information, visit Ohi.com.

About Ohi

Ohi is the leading instant commerce solution for direct-to-consumer and enterprise brands looking to grow their business by enabling powerful post-purchase experiences. Leveraging its proprietary, data-driven inventory management technology and robust micro-warehouse platform to forward position inventory within city centers, Ohi enables brands to offer a premium, environmentally responsible, instant or scheduled delivery experience to their customers.

Contacts

MEDIA:
Michael McMullan/Danielle Poggi
Berns Communications Group
mmcmullan@bcg-pr.com/dpoggi@bcg-pr.com

Oh, Hi Dallas 

MFC Announcement

We’re happy to announce that two-hour, same-day, and next-day delivery is now live in Dallas.

The home of America’s team, rodeos, and famous Texas BBQ is now a member of the Ohi instant commerce family!

If you have any questions or would like more information, please reach out to your account manager or contact us here.

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 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.

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