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3 Ways Order Fulfillment Will Change In 2021

Order Fulfillment

The retail world has been turned on its head during the current global pandemic and has created huge unknowns when we look to the future. There does appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the retail industry.


Cracks in some of the retail industry segments have become more noticeable but those cracks highlighted opportunities to further improve some promising trends. Today, we’re going to share some information about the coming e-commerce trends that may make it big in the coming year.


Supercharged Direct-to-consumer Activity


There has been a noticeable shift away from traditional business models in 2020.  While wholesale retail will certainly still exist in the future, other business models will also certainly appear.


Direct-to-consumer activity (D2C) has become second nature to a large segment of consumers because of the events that transpired in the current year. With the pandemic transforming consumer behavior, at least for the near short and medium-term, the e-retail industry could quickly grow from a $3.53 billion last year to a whopping $6.54 billion industry by 2022.


As companies improve their supply chains, much of the improvements will be focused on their fulfillment centers.


Dark Stores


As consumer purchasing behavior changed due to stay-at-home and physical distancing orders, some establishments were forced to close down their stores. Some stores were able to convert their stores into “dark stores” successfully.


Contrary to its somewhat mysterious name, dark stores are not sketchy stores, they are simply virtual stores. These were former stores but are now repurposed as fulfillment centers to improve delivery times to customers. Designed to be a hybrid between and online store and a physical store, these are supplementary to the overall direct-to-consumer business model. These “stores” can take shape as a hybrid space that functions as a fulfillment center but also has an area dedicated to those customers who prefer to shop in-person. They can also not physically exist at all allowing brands to create very specialized, virtual marketplaces where consumers are able to have a strong retail experience.


Multi-platform Order Fulfillment


Vendors and businesses need to be ready to accept and fulfill orders sent from a variety of platforms.


By the end of 2021, 73% of total e-commerce sales are projected to come from mobile devices. The big social media companies know that as time spent on their various platforms increases, they have opportunities to provide direct selling opportunities. The platforms that would directly benefit from this include (but are not limited to) Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and, of course, Google. It would be necessary in 2021 for businesses to have an online presence on these platforms to take advantage of the increase in traffic and to leverage targeted sales.


Additionally, order fulfillment available within the social media platform itself reduces the customer’s risk of losing interest while being redirected to a separate marketplace or order mechanism. Businesses who wish to succeed in these realms will need to proactively review and improve their supply chains, revamp their distribution partner network, and harness new AI-based technologies that relate with retail planning to gain an edge over competitors.