Red, White and Fulfillment Blues? 8 Tips for More Frugal Fulfillment

July 2, 2015

The heat is rising as the United States prepares to turn another year older (239 to be exact!). With warm weather, vacations and grilling season upon us, everyone seems to be bupopsiclesier than ever. Consumers have less time to wait for deliveries, so maintaining fast and cheap delivery during these summer months can be crucial.

The summer months can be hectic, but use this time as an opportunity to make sure your current fulfillment process is as efficient as possible. Once the holiday season hits (which seems to be earlier each year), there’s no turning back.

Turn your fulfillment blues into fulfillment green with the eight tips below. Some tips involve changes to your operational processes; others offer practical solutions. Implementing even a few of them can yield a positive impact on your bottom line.

1. Find a drop shipper

2. Turn your stores into warehouses

3. Eliminate problem products

4. Develop a multi-distribution center strategy

5. Consolidate your efforts

6. Get the refunds you deserve

7. Pass the baton

8. Package with price in mind

So, where should you start? Dive into four of the top tips below.

1. Turn Your Stores into Warehouses

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, use it for more than just a shopping destination. Consider those shelves full of merchandise as part of an active warehouse. Today’s customer is omnichannel. You should be omnichannel, too. One way to start that integration is to offer in-store pickup for your online items.

Webstore provider Shopify offers a point of sale (POS) platform that completely syncs your webstore with your physical stores. This way, a consumer can make a purchase online and visit the store to pick it up, saving both you and your customer time and money on shipping. Other third-party integrations, such as NetSuite, can help you keep track of your billing and inventory data as well.

2. Get the Refunds You Deserve

The easiest way to make money is to simply claim the money that’s already yours. Did you know that carriers like UPS and FedEx have policies in place that guarantee a retailer a full refund if they’re even a few minutes late with a package delivery? Many retailers either aren’t aware of these policies, or don’t take the time to enforce them. You could unknowingly be leaving money on the table. Companies like Refund Retriever and 71 Pounds, however, will do the work for you by scanning your shipments and helping you recoup your rightful refunds from your carriers.

3. Pass the Baton

In certain circumstances, you should be willing to go the extra mile for your customers. When it comes to fulfillment, you might want to leave that up to the United States Postal Service (USPS) — at least that final mile. Doing so could actually save you a little money on low-weight packages.

Carriers like FedEx and UPS have programs (FedEx SmartPost and UPS Mail Innovations) that deliver your packages to the local post office of the buyer and then let USPS deliver them to the final address. These programs have proven to be a cost-effective, efficient way to deliver (and return) lightweight packages.

4. Package with Price in Mind

Precise and accurate packaging might seem an obvious cost-saver, but many retailers and brands still package their products inefficiently. Take time to analyze the way your products are leaving your warehouses. Are the boxes the right size for the products? Are you using recycled materials for padding? Are you wasting money on paper receipts and other coupons when e-receipts will do?

It’s worth taking some time to creatively brainstorm practical methods you can implement to cut packaging costs. When you’re dealing with thousands of packages each year, a penny or two here and there can produce a windfall in total savings.

Give yourself another reason to celebrate this summer! Saving time and money on your fulfillment strategy as you head into the holidays is a win-win for both retailers and consumers. Review the other four fulfillment tips you should use this summer (and throughout the year).


Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media and blog manager, ChannelAdvisor