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Top 3 Challenges for 3PL Players in a World of Accelerated Order Fulfillment

Consumer expectations are rapidly evolving and the capacity to meet these expectations is becoming a crucial business differentiator. Customers of the retail and eCommerce sectors increasingly expect faster and more convenient deliveries.

Today, in the world of heightened customer expectations, same-day or 1-day deliveries are becoming the norm. Data shows that:

  • 56% of online consumers expect same-day delivery
  • 61% of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery
  • 49% of consumers say same-day delivery is more likely to make them shop online

If these numbers are not compelling enough, here is the icing on the cake. 96% of consumers consider ‘fast delivery’ to mean same-day delivery.

Third-party logistics providers, better known as 3PL, are increasingly helping businesses ensure that customers receive their orders as fast as possible.

In this blog, we take a look at the main challenges that face 3PLs as the world moves towards accelerated order fulfillment.

Limited floor space

MFCs or Micro Fulfillment Centers are smaller, purpose-built facilities that are close to the customer locations that 3PLs need to accelerate order fulfillment. Unlike large warehouses, MFCs have a smaller footprint and are usually less than 50,000 square feet. Some MFC designs are as small as 2,000 square feet.

As the focus on same-day delivery increases the need for more fulfillment centers closer to the customer rises as well. The space constraints of urban areas need MFC to use space vertically going up to > 8’ ceiling heights. Enabling horizontal and vertical movement in three dimensions to pick and pack products can be a challenge in these small spaces.

Manually navigating the inventory and product placement, picking, and packing in smaller and contained spaces impacts order processing speed negatively. Automation of the picking and packing process with a solution that can operate in smaller and more compact spaces is a challenge that 3PLs need to navigate.

Low throughput

The ability to store a large number of products in a small space, locate them, and pack them fast demands storage and service accuracy. In the absence of automation, 3PLs struggle to accelerate the pace of order fulfillment as they require human intervention to locate and then pack the order. Manual order packing in these small spaces can also be a constraint that impacts operational agility.

Combatting low throughput is now a top priority for 3PLs to enable same-day deliveries. Robust, automated solutions that can navigate small spaces, locate products, and pick and pack them accurately are now becoming essential for competitive advantage.

Limited solutions for small spaces

Automation of MFC is essential for last-mile delivery and same-day order fulfillment. However, most solutions in the market are designed to navigate the challenges and smoothen operations for large warehouses.

Given the space constraints, automation solutions for MFCs need a rethink. Solutions for last-mile delivery have specific needs and have to address the specific challenges of these spaces. As such, these solutions need to be compact and exhibit fast, agile, reliable, and scalable.

The time-to-deployment of these solutions is another challenge that MFC needs to address. Solutions that have a long deployment time and take longer to install, need floor preparation and need heavy material handling equipment. They also need expensive operator stations and do not operate with standard racking. All these impediments make it hard to achieve the ROI fast from the solution.

Automation is the answer

3PLs need their modified fulfillment centers to reduce their fulfillment costs and delivery timelines. MFCs now have to design storage and picking systems to prioritize speed, efficiency, and flexibility. The solutions have to ensure that picking and packing for same-day delivery are completed quickly. Automation solutions have to reduce the time of order creation and order delivery by providing a high throughput.

Effective automation solutions help MFCs ship their orders quickly and help businesses meet high order volumes without worrying about inventory space. The right automation solutions can function with standard racking and do not require expensive operator stations. This ensures that businesses can get the ROI much faster.

Given the time constraints, MFC also needs automation solutions that are fast to install and can enable horizontal and vertical movement in three dimensions. Solutions need to be hassle-free. Solutions that demand floor space preparation or rely on heavy material handling equipment for installation take longer to get up and running. The ROI as such also follows much later.Exceptional, same-day delivery and, as such, last-mile delivery operations are a top brand differentiator today, even replacing product and pricing. Micro-fulfillment centers are emerging as enablers of this. Connect with us to see how Carte+ helps you automate and accelerate order fulfillment and increase operational agility in today’s competitive world.

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