The Business-to-Business eCommerce sector is growing rapidly, and it’s easy to see why. New platforms and technologies make it simple for suppliers in any industry to set up a functional and secure online store, and more and more buyers have come to prefer the convenience of handling their supply needs online. Industry giants such as Amazon Supply have set the bar high, and buyers are expecting the same level of reliability and efficiency for physical product orders.
As more and more business take their supply shopping online, two trends are developing: Acquisition costs are decreasing, parallel to customer migration to online shopping, according to a study from Forrester Research. Once your eCommerce site and online store are set up, on-boarding new customers becomes easy and requires minimal work from your sales team. And that’s a good thing, considering the second trend: Buyers are demonstrating extremely low supplier loyalty. According to a study from Acquity Group, 85% of buyers would switch suppliers for a lower cost option, and those buyers are doing the majority of their shopping and research online.
So while a well-executed B2B eCommerce site can mean low overhead and commitment for suppliers, they’ll have to contend with the fact that their clients have a vast market of competitors to choose from. Furthermore, they’re expected to offer a convenient shipping experience comparable to the biggest names in the industry.
This is where 3PL partnerships come in. By partnering with a third party for shipping logistics, you can keep your overhead lean and provide accurate and reliable service to your clients. Here are a few ways a mid-sized 3PL such as Westset can help you achieve this:
Drastically reduced overhead.
Regardless of the industry, in-house warehousing can account for a big chunk of overhead capital. A 3PL partner can handle all your storage and inventory, and handle receiving and order fulfillment as well. For example, Westset’s recently expanded and renovated warehouse in La Mirada, CA, is fitted with a state-of-the-art storage system, equipped to handle everything from apparel to automotive and industrial products. These storage systems not only use warehouse space efficiently, they make it easy for warehouse staff to accurately and expediently pick and ship product. The savings on overhead can then be passed on to the customer, allowing you to keep prices competitive.
Accurate inventory and fulfillment.
Consumer standards for shipping speeds and order accuracy have never been higher. It may be easy to create an eCommerce website that competes with larger names in terms of security and ease of use, but how can a small-to-medium sized enterprise expect to provide a shipping experience on par with the big guys? By trusting it to a professional, of course! eCommerce technology has come a long way, but so has the technology used in the warehousing and shipping industry.
For example, Westset utilizes GPS technology to map the inventory in their warehouse, while supervisors use tablet computers to direct staff and minimize walk-times. Meanwhile, the staff is equipped with handheld scanners, allowing them to easily identify and inventory packages. This helps the warehouse staff work smarter, not harder (meaning overhead is kept low, with savings once again passed on to clients), and ensure fast and accurate order fulfillment. Returns are a breeze as well, as a quick scan tells the staff exactly how to re-stock the product, and where to ship the replacement.
Knowledge is power
These advanced Warehouse Management Systems don’t just make life easier on the warehouse floor; they also provide 24 hour, real-time inventory and shipping data to the client. Every time a product is scanned, it goes into a cloud-based database, giving you a clear picture of where your products are, or where they’re going. You can easily update your online store if a product is out of stock, or be notified right away when a return is received.
This allows you to stay on top of supply and demand, while ensuring that inventory is managed and delivered on time, every time. Meanwhile, the savings in overhead and the boost in reliability can help your business compete effectively both in terms of price, and keeping your promise to the customer.