Flexible Fulfillment in E-Commerce

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Flexible fulfillment is the modern approach to helping businesses with hassle-free distribution.

Flexible Fulfillment

Flexible fulfillment is a logistics technique that focuses on modifying the preparation of an order to a more sophisticated demand so that orders can be dispatched from any distribution warehouse, storage facility, or shop.

Flexible fulfillment is crucial to implement as a logistics plan because it can react to fluctuations in demand. Companies are working to deliver the consignments under any circumstances because corporations risk losing a portion of their profits to protect their brand’s name, which might get hampered due to the cancellation of purchases caused by the shortage of inventory.

Flexible Fulfillment

How to Achieve Flexible Fulfillment?

Many consumer involvement trends have accelerated in recent years, and consumers have become more comfortable purchasing a variety of miscellaneous items from the comfort of their own homes. While the manufacturers learned how to sell directly to consumers, many retail chains increased the efficiency of their multichannel strategies.

Here are four steps that can help you achieve flexible fulfillment in e-commerce:

Step: 1 Create a Link Between Stocks, Fulfillment, and E-Commerce

The most challenging aspect of developing and maintaining new sales channels is living up to clients’ expectations, an area where delivery services generally struggle to support that. Purchases online and picking up from stores have risen due to the ability of businesses with storefronts to fulfill large orders and facilitate returns utilizing existing services.

However, the option of “purchase online, and pick up in-store” requires coordinated inventory management, ideally linked to an order fulfillment system. Furthermore, because e-commerce accounts for a large portion of sales, those systems should be connected to the e-commerce engine so that customers can check the availability of stocks and the estimated time of delivery of their orders.

Step 2: Introduce New Channels of Fulfillment

Regardless of whether the company has a chain of locations, it is good to consider other fulfillment options. Using the logistics of a third-party provider is a short-term plan and a long-term solution depending on a company’s gross margin and present delivery capabilities.

If a company is bustling with orders and getting active with work, opening new channels will hike the business. In such scenarios, a third-party logistics provider can assist with the shipment of smaller consignments while the company completes the shipment of consignments holding larger values.

Step 3: Provide Consumer-Friendly Features in E-Commerce

There were instances where e-commerce websites launched by companies displayed a tiny portion of goods alongside providing basic e-commerce features. Initially, these companies looked like a new venture dealing with direct selling to consumers or a new strategy for market-specific commodities to open new distribution channels other than direct selling to consumers.

But with the evolution of the e-commerce market, it seems fitting to focus on customer experience by providing user-friendly features such as tracking of shipment, availability of stocks, etc.

Step 4: Automation of Fulfillment

Automation is a logical step that helps monitor the online systems of fulfillment. It allows incorporating the framework of a business so that the system can appropriately deal with new operations while eliminating the outdated processes trying to cripple a business.

Flexible Fulfillment

Benefits of Flexible Fulfillment

Implementing flexible order fulfillment has numerous advantages. It helps companies keep up with the change in the needs and expectations of clients. Flexible fulfillment does not, however, require a specific establishment. You can use e-commerce fulfillment solutions like fulfillment centers to deliver products and add new channels to the business.

Other than this, it also comes with some more benefits, which are as follows:

  • Flexible fulfillment helps minimize any risk that might occur on either expanding or reducing the warehouse space by coming in contact with a third party to handle the delivery management. Since a third party is usually a set of professionals, this allows saving time and money for a business.
  • A fulfillment approach necessitates a physical space for storage and distribution. Still, the methodology of flexible fulfillment allows a company to complete these tasks from the nearest space available or fulfillment centers.
  • Flexible fulfillment allows your company to deliver from every location possible. Rather than investing in a physical space such as a warehouse to exhibit the products, this e-commerce practice makes it easy to share the products over the internet and serve the customers simultaneously.
  • Supply chains should be flexible enough to work through market fluctuations, for which e-commerce companies incorporate a flexible fulfillment system. This also helps in improving customer experience, product distribution, and tracking. Even if a company expands its inventory based on customer engagement, a flexible fulfillment strategy allows modification in the stock on a swivel without harming the smooth functioning of a brand.
Flexible Fulfillment

The Importance of Flexibility in Order Fulfillment Services

Flexible fulfillment helps retailers in upgrading their supply chain management which improves the efficiency of the staff as they are able to locate orders and process them smoothly. The importance of flexibility in order fulfillment, which can reward a retailer handsomely, has other effects:

  • Outside the channel of a business, a merchant serves as a prime link to the consumer. Flexible fulfillment helps maintain this relationship by enabling firms to increase their sales through effectively utilizing resources without needing a discount or a liquidation. It saves the business from defective logistical management.
  • Given the current situation, a consumer’s demand changes constantly. Flexible fulfillment equips the brand to handle a sudden hike in demand for a particular product and protects the brand name from being hampered.
  • Flexible fulfillment enables firms or companies to satisfy their customer’s shipping requirements by ensuring that they have enough stock on hand to meet demand. When product information is up to date, a company can access data to manage growth and sales from any place.
Flexible Fulfillment

How to Use a Flexible Fulfillment Strategy to Reduce Warehouse Costs?

For delivery experts, cutting warehouse costs is always at the top of the agenda while simultaneously focusing on improving quality and customer satisfaction. Running a warehouse is not the simple endeavor it appears to be, and it involves a plethora of operational measures to allow the smooth running of the business.

However, there are specific measures that one can take to reduce warehousing costs using flexibility, which are as follows:

Optimize Storage to Save Space

Understand the measurement requirements of the pickup required for various categories of products. Incorporate racks to organize the inventory by stacking in order and measuring the space required between aisles for the access of machinery. Try to eliminate the corridors not being used to curb the space as it will not require unnecessary maintenance.

Use the Cross-Docking Method

Cross-docking eliminates the middle man. When stock arrives in a cargo vessel, it is swiftly transported to departing vessels designated for client delivery. This saves time and storage and also the cost of labor.

Implement Energy-Saving Measures

Cutting electricity costs can significantly impact the budget, and adding insulation and automatic light controls will add to the savings. Installing windows to harness the sun’s energy will also help lower the bills.

Expenses Associated with Labor Should be Reduced

Try hiring more experienced employees over rookies, who will require a course of training. To increase the efficiency of the employees/laborers, provide them with regular cross-training and supervision about new technologies.

Minimize Spending on a Variety of Machinery

Operating machinery is costly. Try using a single machine for various tasks instead of using separate ones. Schedule regular maintenance with your equipment provider to maintain their conditions.

Flexibility through a Modular Approach to Warehouse Automation

In logistics, flexibility is becoming incredibly valuable. Internal production and distribution solutions should be versatile enough to respond to changes in demand or product turnover when new consumer trends, such as multichannel retail, are redefining warehouse procedures. Companies are looking for supply chain solutions that combine automation and flexibility, since the cost of logistics space room and deliveries of consignments in short windows have increased.

Before actually executing an automated project, it’s vital to establish a business plan to analyze the expansion of customer demand and increase in stock-keeping units in the near future.


Retailers are adjusting their order fulfillment processes to keep up with the rapid development of e-commerce and rising consumer expectations. They are opting for new methods like flexible fulfillment, which is considered a long-term solution.
Flexible fulfillment has been considered beneficial in predicting and preventing the loss of stocks and refilling the inventory as per the customers’ requirements. Incorporating flexible fulfillment strategies allows a company to absorb any sudden fluctuations in the market. This new age methodology also speaks highly about curbing extra expenditures and mechanization of storage spaces, which helps the retailers save extra money that can be spent on better technology and services.
Since flexible fulfillment does not force a business to have a massive establishment, it is convenient for small businesses to run smoothly and profitably. Therefore it can be said that it is indeed a cost-effective cover shield solution for any business.

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It is a strategy which involves utilizing retail sites as distribution facilities, either to ship products to customers or to allow customers to pick up their orders directly from the stores. 

Here are different types of fulfillment strategies which can be used to curb any sort of flux:

  • Using a variety of shipping methods
  • Take advantage of the last tracking details
  • Distribute the inventory within the company effectively
  • Improve operations for reverse logistics
  • Buying online and pick-up in-store should be overlooked

Flexible warehousing is a methodology for utilizing a 3PL (third-party logistics) carrier’s warehouse resources on a flexible basis for all distribution logistics activities such as the delivery of packages, etc.

It is an ability to perform different types of operations from a single machine or vessel instead of switching to another one. This helps in minimizing the cost and time of a business.

The three types of warehouses are:

  1. Distribution center
  2. Automated warehouses
  3. Fulfillment centers

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