Trying to sell your product in today’s hyper-competitive retail world and only utilizing one or two channels is like trying to win a rowing race with one or two oars when the other team has a full crew powering ahead in unison.

Industry leaders predict that Amazon sales will account for more than 50% of all US ecommerce sales by 2021. That leaves the other 50% for you to compete for using your own online store, and with margins that are much more favorable.

And ironically, despite all of the news about the demise of brick & mortar, over 80% of holiday sales last year were at retail stores, not online.

To win this challenge, you must embrace the “new rules of nimble” and develop the retail agility, or “retailgilty”, to seamlessly compete on Amazon AND the other huge online retail Dot-coms like Walmart, Houze, Overstock, Jet and Target. You also need to deploy every possible efficiency in your direct-to-consumer and marketplace businesses. while simultaneously getting your products into the retail stores that already own your potential shoppers.

Marketplaces vs Independent Web Stores

These two go-to-market strategies are very different e-commerce business models. Is your company and your 3PL partner ready to optimize both?

  • When you sell through marketplaces, it’s their way or the highway — especially Amazon.
  • Webstores make their own rules. They have to build their own audience, but you control your destiny from start to finish.

Finding a 3PL partner with the capabilities to manage both of these strategies from one end point can help reduce costs and man power, which are important resources in the early life of a new product.

So what should a manufacturer consider when selecting a 3PL partner?

For starters, you no longer have to pin yourself in by working with a warehouse and distribution company that is an expert at only one or two channels, and isn’t set up for the others. Today, you have to uncover every stone to squeeze out efficiencies and cost savings. Instead of pulling back on R&D, product development or marketing, why not take a look at your “fixed costs” that may not be as fixed as you’ve been led to believe. I’m talking about finding a 3PL provider that supports different channels that your product sells through. Why use one 3PL provider for large national accounts, another for smaller independents, a third for ecommerce, and a fourth for Direct-to-Consumer?

Choose a 3PL with One Centralized Inventory That Serves All Channels

Find a partner that provides Omnichannel support so you can offer your customers a simple yet seamless buying experience across all buying channels. Choose one that can optimize inventory at each location to meet future customer demand. Inventory optimization helps reduce inventory levels, enabling you to benefit from highly efficient turnover and cash flow.

A 3PL provider with Omnichannel capabilities provides flexibility, integrated systems and operational excellence to route and manage all customer orders in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. You’re going to want a range of services — from pallet pick, to a single customized Direct-to-Consumer order, with every option to simplify your business. Efficient, multi-client e-commerce fulfillment centers scale with you during peak seasons, giving you fixed-cost leverage and ensuring that spikes don’t turn into misses. High volumes should be something to celebrate – not fear!

Omnichannel Services Deliver Cost Savings and Efficiency

These are the most important scalable areas which, when utilized with integrated software services and regional distribution centers, can deliver the highest costs savings with maximum efficiency.

  • Ability to ship by the pallet, case, and each under one roof
  • Seamless service across all channels
  • Faster order processing for online orders
  • Improved inventory utilization, velocity, visibility
  • Economies of scale / reduced distribution costs
  • Ability to accommodate business fluctuations/growth
  • Competitive LT, LTL and Parcel freight rates
Now that you have been seen the benefits a best-in-class Omnichannel 3PL partner can bring to a product, here’s a checklist that will help you to vet possible partners. I’ve detailed the services that my company, M. Block provides.

Omnichannel Order Management

Every channel has its own unique order management requirements. Whether orders arrive via EDI, through third party portals like Amazon, or interfaced shopping carts like Magento and Shopify, our powerful ERP system and order management team efficiently manage the dates, inventory, pricing, logistics, and transportation specific to each customer in each channel. M. Block routes orders through our system to the optimal distribution center for picking, packing, and shipping to ensure your customers get their order as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Omnichannel Transportation

Our ability to consolidate vendors into one shipment saves on freight costs, and gets you to shelf faster, improving turnover for you and the customer. Our negotiated freight rates for TL, LTL and parcel freight will save you costs. Our on-time performance and shipping accuracy have earned us awards and expedited “one scan” truck load receipts with some retailers. On direct-to-consumer orders, M. Block & Sons is able to manage same day delivery, and personalization requirements to delight your customers and elevate your brand. Our distribution centers are regionally located helping to significantly reduce transportation costs and providing access to 98% of the population in 2 days via FedEx ground.

Omnichannel 3PL Distribution and Fulfillment

Managing Omnichannel as a third-party logistics (3PL) provider is significantly more complex than handling the same services in one channel only. M. Block handles the diverse Omnichannel requirements by structuring its DCs with multiple storage and picking environments, and utilizing customer-tailored WMS scripts for order processing and replenishment. This allows us to process orders direct-to-consumer, in groups or truck loads by customer in the quickest, most efficient and cost-effective manner. Our reverse logistics efficiently manage defective and clean customer returns.

Omnichannel Value Added Retail & D2C Ecommerce

Manage your value-added services within the same supply chain as your finished goods: kitting and subassembly, re-boxing, display builds, heat shrink wrapping, product inspection, light manufacturing, and ticketing. Our value-added services include bundling, customized packaging and even gift-wrapping for fully-outsourced solutions that you save time, money and headaches.

Your end consumers expect the same quality branded experience of an in-store purchase even when they shop online. Our value-added D2C services, including customized packaging and gift wrap, marketing inserts, bundling, kitting and unboxing cards, make every purchase feel special so you can increase sales and improve customer loyalty. M. Block & Sons’ Omnichannel expertise has you covered, from order through fulfillment in every channel.

So, now its up to you. If you’re ready to turbocharge your retail strategy – I recommend taking a serious look at going all in on Omnichannel distribution. — P.L.