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Important Ecommerce Logistics Trends For The Remainder Of 2021

July 14, 2021 Published by

warehouse with robot arms packaging boxes

Although we might be nearing the end of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on the Ecommerce industry continue to be felt as businesses adjust to new trends. The impact it has had on Ecommerce logistics, in particular, is significant.

We can’t predict what the future holds, but we can look to current events to get a feel for trends we can expect to affect the supply chain, shipping & logistics landscape. Here’s what our research shows might be the main Ecommerce logistics trends for the balance of 2021.

#1: More Demand For D2C Fulfillment

Before 2020, direct to consumer fulfillment was, for the most part, an offering that catered to instant gratification. However, following the pandemic, it has become a core service for retail businesses.

When in-store shopping restrictions became commonplace in early 2020, many businesses had to quickly scale up their operations to meet demand. This resulted in growth that far exceeded earlier predictions. In fact, Insider Intelligence estimated D2C sales were worth over 17 billion dollars in 2020 – up 24.3% from 2019.

D2C models will likely continue to grow in popularity due to their financial benefits. D2C fulfillment removes the need for middlemen and high overheads, which helps businesses maximize their profit margins.

#2: Branded Shipping Experiences

What we’re about to say might sound like a cliché, but it’s true: Brand is everything. For Ecommerce businesses, using premium packaging continues to be one of the ways they can set themselves apart, especially as more businesses begin to enter the Ecommerce space post-pandemic. A package creates the first impression of a product and helps to reinforce brand identity among customers.

#3: Increased Robotic and AI Automation

When businesses began dealing with high order volumes and demand for same-day delivery during the pandemic, many Third-Party Logistics providers (3PLs) began looking for ways to streamline and improve their fulfillment efficiency. One of the ways we think 3PLs might be able to do so is through automation.

Automation within warehouses can help to eliminate human error and better prepare 3PLs to deal with fluctuations in the labor market and consumer demand. It also frees up human workers to deal with more complex tasks that are cost-effective and have a lower injury risk. Technological advances and lower upfront costs are making robotic and AI automation more feasible for 3PLs to implement. With large online retailers like Amazon starting to use automation for their fulfillment, it’s something we expect to grow in popularity.

 #4: Smarter Returns

Unfortunately for many businesses, product returns are very common. Customers choose to return their products for many reasons, including:

  • Receiving a damaged product
  • Receiving a product that doesn’t match its description and images
  • Receiving the wrong item

Returns are best avoided due to the fact they’re costly and time-consuming. That’s why we predict we’ll likely see many businesses begin to use return management software to improve their return logistics.

#5: Sustainable Logistics

Sustainability is no longer a nice optional company value in 2021, it is a must-have. As consumers continue to learn about the amount of waste and emissions that order fulfillment processes can create, they’ll likely start to clamor for greener logistics practices.

Over half of U.S. consumers say they are willing to pay more for a sustainable product, according to the 2020 CGS Retail and Sustainability survey. As such, we could expect to see many Ecommerce businesses start to use biodegradable or recyclable packaging, renewable energy, and transportation routes optimized to reduce emissions.

You Don’t Have To Fulfill Orders Alone

The bar is set higher than ever for Ecommerce logistics. If you need help with your order fulfillment, be sure to reach out to a 3PL like Fulfillment Works. We can help with many aspects of your logistics from inventory management and kitting all the way to negotiating the best shipping options for you and your customers with all carriers.