New brands benefit by working with providers that can handle both consumer e-commerce and business-to-business fulfillment, says Austin Kreinz, founder and chief executive officer of Atomix Logistics.
In the digital age, the number of new brands coming online continues to “blossom,” Kreinz says, and company managers need to decide what actions they will keep in house or outsource. Designing and selling the product is the “fun” part, he says. Packaging, warehousing, distribution — the supply chain part — not so much. “The next decision is how quickly are these companies going to scale and how are they going to manage that? Are you going to outsource fulfillment or keep it in house?”
In Kreinz’s estimation, the most successful brands partner with providers that can handle both direct-to-consumer and business-to-business fulfillment operations. In large part, that’s because companies that once may have seen themselves as focused one way or the other are now taking a more holistic approach, selling both B2C and B2B. “They're meeting their customers where the customers want the product, whether that’s on the store shelves or is buying on their online store.”
Looking down the road, Kreinz says better technology will be needed to handle the growing number of returns. E-commerce accounts for 20% or so of retail sales, and that is going to continue, even though in-store sales are beginning to come back somewhat, he says. In either event, returns are likely to increase.
And it’s not news that customers have grown accustomed to ever-faster deliveries. That picture, however, has grown more and more complex. Consumers don’t just want things quicker; they demand tighter delivery windows, proof of delivery, pictures of undamaged packages — and all of that done in a sustainable manner. That clearly requires greater investment in routing and tracking technologies.
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