eCommerce Post Pandemic

eCommerce Post Pandemic

The COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in major changes in many aspects of our lives.  In addition to the health concerns of the pandemic, many brands have experienced the impact of COVID 19 on their brands, the industry, and eCommerce overall.

Since the onset of the pandemic, many physical stores have closed doors, as lockdowns kept many potential shoppers quarantined at home.  To obtain essential items, consumers turned to online shopping.  According to data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, the pandemic accelerated the pivot from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years.

Understanding emerging eCommerce trends has always been important to long-term business success online but has become much more prevalent in the wake of COVID’s unparalleled disruption of all things eCommerce.

Unfortunately, it appears as though COVID still isn’t behind us just yet. Though life may have begun to return to normal, the lasting effects of the pandemic have become the new normal. Looking back at how COVID affected businesses can help us better appreciate why it’s so important to pay attention to eCommerce trends. Should disruptions to everyday life return, this understanding can prepare us for a second round.

Back in 2019, we had no idea what the following year would bring us, but there were people in the eCommerce world who had considered the trends that might emerge. Let’s take a look back at what the state of eCommerce looked like before COVID hit.

Back in 2019, the Amazon Effect was as powerful as ever. Online retailers around the globe felt the pressure to keep pace with the many ways Amazon continued to grow its revenue. Amazon invested billions into offering 1-day shipping to its Prime members at no extra cost. This was after two-day shipping for Prime members helped it rule eCommerce since that offering was implemented back in 2005.

Amazon’s shipping times were already a massive competitive edge, so making them even faster was big news. Not surprisingly, two of Amazon’s biggest competitors, Target and Walmart, countered with similar one-day shipping plans soon after this news was announced.

In hindsight, these developments could not have come at a better time, as many of us would soon depend on these shipping plans once our usual in-person shopping was no longer possible.

Another trend that picked up steam in 2019 – and also just in time for impending lockdowns – was BOPIS (Buy online, pick up in-store). With BOPIS, customers can shop online, make their purchases online, and then go pick up those items without having to troll the aisles and wait in line to check out. The genius of BOPIS is that any local retailer can offer the service. All they need is a website and an in-store pickup extension to convert customers who want their products right away.

Many grocery stores took this a step further and offered curbside pickup, making it even easier for customers to buy from them. On the other hand, many digital brands realized the potential for having a brick-and-mortar presence as well, prior to the global pandemic. Many of these online companies tested the concept with popup shops, while others jumped right in with legitimate brick-and-mortar stores.

By the end of 2019, there were more than 1,700 stores owned by digital brands all over the country. But once again, this is the kind of business decision that no longer needs to be complicated or expensive.

The first step is to understand how eCommerce can increase efficiency and productivity in your business while also reducing costs.  ABCO Systems has years of expertise in the design and development of eCommerce solutions that can make your eCommerce goals to happen.  You know your product – we know distribution design. Let us help you bring your product to the eCommerce market.

The Top 5 Challenges 3PLs Face

The Top 5 Challenges 3PLs Face

With third-party logistics providers on the rise, it is evident that the unprecedented growth the world witnessed in the e-commerce sector is here to stay.

Keeping up with the fast-changing landscape of the economy presents major challenges for 3PLs.

Here are some of the most notable challenges in 3PL distribution:

1. Meeting Consumer Expectations

COVID-19 has demonstrated exactly how fast consumer expectations can change. As a result, many companies have had to develop e-commerce fulfillment and online delivery options quickly while also adhering to strict operative guidelines. To make matters more complicated, e-commerce giants like Amazon have set the standard for consumers by offering free two-day shipping, accurate and fast order fulfillment, and full visibility of product-tracking.

To keep up, 3PLs can utilize dynamic storage solutions, warehouse automation hardware, and warehouse design consultation services to optimize their storage strategy and space. Solutions providers like ABCO Systems can help 3PLs design their e-commerce fulfillment centers to optimize throughput, drive down costs, and stay efficient.

2. Acquiring + Retaining Talent

A 2019 Report by Inbound Logistics showed that 64% of 3PL providers listed finding, training, and retaining qualified labor as a challenge they face. To stay competitive, providing high-quality service is of extreme importance in a consumer-focused industry. Without acquiring and retaining the right talent, e-commerce brands stand to lose a positive reputation, face slower business growth, and potentially lose money on higher labor costs.

To offset the risks and costs associated with turnover, providers can turn to 3PL warehouse automation solutions that reduce fulfillment times for orders. The right solution can reduce labor costs tremendously, and simplify operations in a way that simplifies the training process, too.

3. 3PL Warehouse Design + Automation

In the dynamic landscape of today’s economy, it’s no surprise that many distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers today are struggling to scale their warehouse capacity to match demand. It is easy for warehouse spaces to become stagnant with outdated setups that past operations once required. To work around the conundrum of changing storage and capabilities requirements, 3PLs can consult 3PL solutions providers for insights on how to optimize their warehouse design and solicit specific recommendations on customizable storage solutions and 3PL warehouse automation hardware that maximize warehouse space and improve order fulfillment operations on a daily basis. Though automation requires a large initial investment, it reduces an operation’s overall cost-to-serve and can improve ROI in less than 24 months.

4. Shipment Visibility + Analytics

Managing inventory from a wide range of vendors can make it very difficult for 3PLs and e-commerce brands to ensure fast shipping times. To meet consumer standards, 3PLs must rely on leading-edge warehouse execution systems to be able to track and record all warehouse operations in real-time.
To continuously manage those expectations, 3PLs must also depend on data analytics to identify and modify inefficient across their operations. By automating their supply chain processes and integrating them with all suppliers, 3PL companies stand to create much more long-lasting relationships with their consumers.

For more information on ABCO Systems’ 3PL solutions visit contact us HERE.

COVID-19 and The Supply Chain

COVID-19 and The Supply Chain

Keeping New Jersey moving forward in a crisis.

Supply Chain works to keep shelves stocked and packages moving to arrive at your door. What it takes to make this happen, is not something the average person usually thinks about.  Even people that have worked in this industry for years probably never realized the full scope of our dependency on them.

Over the past few weeks, we have all heard about how essential our supply chain is to food, medicine, toiletries and all the other items we use in our daily lives.  This is a topic that much of the world never took into consideration until now.  The Supply Chain affects everyone, and yet very few are familiar with the term and how it relates to their daily lives. The convenience of going to the store or clicking a mouse to receive whatever you desire, is the result of a vast network of people and machinery working seamlessly together.

Products from around the world travel to factory floors, warehouses and distribution centers. Some products are then manufactured while others move quickly, like food, from a farm to a network of warehouses and then to your local grocer. Items like produce, meat and fish are moved by trucks, boats and even planes to warehouses and distribution centers where forklifts race to receive and breakdown orders in just the right quantities for your local store. Buyers use software to track usage, predict sales, and stock the shelves. The reason shelves go empty in times of crisis is because the normal buying patterns spike and the supply chain needs time to react. In the short term, the supply is disrupted. During a snowstorm or tropical storm, the disruption is as little as a day. This pandemic is taking a herculean effort to not only meet the needs of our daily lives, but to also support our health care system. Companies like Wakefern, headquartered in Keasby, NJ are working hard to meet the increased demands while aiding the Governor’s office to move hospital equipment.  Some companies have pledged to produce new equipment in their factories, fly planes to move products quicker and share technology to produce equipment faster.

Other items like clothing and consumer goods have longer lead times. Orders for clothing, TVs and seasonal items are predicted and created months in advance.  As these items arrive at the warehousing and distribution facilities, they need to have space to store them until we return to normal levels of use.  These facilities cannot leave the items on their docks clogging up their ability to ship the items that are needed to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.  Many consumers have moved to ordering personal care, pharmacy, and food on-line. This shift has created tremendous demand within these warehouses.

On-line powerhouses like Walmart and Amazon have been shipping at record levels as the buying habits of many have shifted. The web of manufacturing facilities, shipping, distribution centers, and delivery vehicles have been relatively quick to react in the short term. There will be a review of our dependence on critical items that are manufactured outside the U.S. This pandemic will likely lead to a resurgence of American-made, and in many cases, NJ-made products that will shorten the supply chain and eliminate uncertainty. The Harvard Business review reports that the U.S. supply chain contains 37% of all jobs, employing 44 million people.  These 44 million people are working harder than ever to keep New Jersey and our country moving forward.

With all this additional strain being placed on our supply chain it is imperative that companies that support them continue to do so.  From the mechanic that keeps the trucks running, the planes flying and the trains moving to the maintenance person that troubleshoots and repairs a conveyor system in the middle of the night. It is this support structure that ensures these items are getting to where they need to be. Companies like ABCO Systems, located in Belleville, have teams of service technicians repairing conveyors and automation equipment, keeping essential businesses up and running.  Their engineers have even sourced and designed temporary systems to meet the spike in demand.